Thursday 22 November 2007

Thursday telly musings

I really have nothing to add to the loud and universal acclaim which has greeted the new BBC production of Cranford . It is an absolute gem – easily on a par with the brilliant Bleak House two years ago.

The Observer ran a feature on Sunday called ‘Hang on to your bonnets and bustles . . .’ , in which writers, directors and actors picked their favourite TV costume drama ever.

Not many surprises, and three mentions of my own personal favourite, Roger Michell and Nick Dear’s Persuasion, with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds (the latter in his full and gorgous prime). I have to declare an interest and confess that I fell very deeply in love with Mr Hinds’ Captain Wentworth in 1995, having already been long infatuated with the character since my first reading of the book. Never has a Jane Austen adaptation been so real and rooted – the clothes are clothes, not ‘costumes’, the women have wayward hair (no hairspray) and no makeup, the men’s coats are caked in mud around the hem, and the interiors have a lived-in feel to them, rather than looking like a carefully styled National Trust property.

The others were the usual suspects – all much loved and fondly remembered (by people over a certain age): The Forsyte Saga; the Alan Bates Mayor of Casterbridge; Brideshead Revisited . . .

The Barchester Chronicles (which brought Alan Rickman so brilliantly to our attention); Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth, white shirt . . . lake . . . sigh . . .); Testament of Youth and the recent Bleak House, so wonderfully aired in short soap-length instalments to reflect the way that Dickens wrote and published the novel.

I’m sure we all have our favourites – possibly some not on the list above. The Observer wants to know what we all think and is asking that we pick our favourite British TV costume drama (their definition is that it must be set before 1950 - a tad scary for viewers more than a decade older than me to discover that their early years have been consigned to the 'Costume' section of the Wardrobe Department!).

All you have to do is email the Observer with your nomination, writing ‘Costume Drama’ in the subject field. As with the World Book Day poll, by nominating your favourite, you will automatically be entered into a prize draw – in this case the winner gets the top five costume drama boxed sets of DVDs. The closing date is 5 December.

Spooks on Tuesday, so was glued to the small screen again. It’s tosh, but it’s such hugely compelling and thought-provoking tosh that I love it. Lots of people seem to be landing on Musings because they’ve Googled the words ‘Rupert Penry-Jones’. Well, I can well understand why anyone might Google those words, or indeed murmur them wistfully from time to time when they think nobody’s listening. If I write them twice in one post, maybe I’ll get twice as many hits? Let’s give it a go: Rupert Penry-Jones.

Finally, don't forget to watch The Genius of Photography tonight. It's quite a testament to the genius of good television documentary programmes.


60GoingOn16 said...

I'm going to show my age now - well, no secret really - and plump for the 1956 BBC TV serialisations of David Copperfield and Jane Eyre. I can see them now, all grainy and black and white but fixed in my memory. They provided my introduction to Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë and triggered an incurable addiction to the Victorian novel and to classic serials.

I can't remember who appeared in David Copperfield and, sadly, every single episode is missing from the BBC archives. But I can tell you that Daphne Slater played Jane Eyre and that Stanley Baker was a brilliant, brooding, Rochester.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time recalling precise productions but have seen some wonderful BBC children's classic dramas, my favourite being The Children of Green Knowe and the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia).
I too have a crush on Kieran Hinds, so manly (don't tell me, it's probably not pc to say that).
BBC radio 4 is running a serial of Domby and Son at the moment.