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Posts Tagged ‘Julian Fellowes’

Sorry not to have updated this blog lately, but I’ve been busy at work once again! Anyway, this is really to say that I’m still here, and have been enjoying the latest smash hit costume drama, Downton Abbey. It has been drawing audiences of around 11 million in England and Wales alone, after the controversial decision by STV not to screen the show in Scotland.

It’s odd now to think that about a year ago it was being predicted that costume drama would disappear from British TV, and from ITV in particular, as a result of budget constraints. Sadly, it does still seem that TV adaptations of older literary classics are an endangered species, with very few such productions planned in the near future – the BBC is working on The Sisters, based on DH Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Women in Love, and a new version of Winifred Holtby’s South Riding, with a script by Andrew Davies, and that’s about it at the moment. I thought someone was bound to commission a major Dickens adaptation for 2012 to tie in with his bicentenary, but have heard nothing on that front yet – though I’m hoping! (A Tale of Two Cities would probably be my choice, if anyone is wondering.)

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I was excited to hear today that Dame Maggie Smith has now been lined up to head the cast for ITV’s major new costume drama series Downton Abbey, scripted  by Julian Fellowes of Gosford Park fame. Hugh Bonneville will also star, as well as a host of other famous names, and filming is due to start next month, which the series possibly arriving on TV in the UK in the autumn. It’s a co-production with the US, but I don’t know who will get it first. Here are two links to a couple of reports with more details:

 Upstairs Downstairs at Downton Abbey

Ex Coronation St star Rob in ITV1 costume drama

 Despite the confusing headline of the first report, this isn’t the forthcoming sequel to Upstairs Downstairs, which is being made for the BBC, but a different series along similar lines. Judging by the cast, it will be essential viewing!

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Sorry again not to have been around much – I’ve  just had a couple of days away from home and am still behind with reviews I want to write! But, anyway, here is a bit of costume drama news.

This week’s Radio Times in the UK carries the news that Andrew Davies’ new adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s great series of novels The Pallisers has been axed. Davies says the BBC is going downmarket and now only commissioning adaptations of big-name works – he has also been asked to adapt David Copperfield instead of Dombey and Son, which I’m a bit disappointed about as DC has been done so many times already.

I haven’t found the Radio Times article online, but here is a link to another
report quoting the same comments:
I’m mystified by the quote saying that Davies is now adapting Arnold Bennett’s South Riding Just editing (October 6) to say that today’s Radio Times has a correction pointing out that this novel is in fact by Winifred Holtby – and that it was the magazine’s mistake, not his!  This one has been adapted before, but not for a long time, and I will be interested to see it.

On a happier note, the BBC starts showing the new Sandy Welch adaptation of
Jane Austen’s Emma this weekend – I’m really looking forward to it and also hoping it gets brilliant ratings to give TV costume drama a badly-needed shot in the arm.

ITV’s recent mini-series of Wuthering Heights, which I thought was powerful
although flawed in places, did fairly well in terms of ratings (the Radio Times
claims 4.28 million was disappointing, but I would have thought it was pretty
good during the main summer holiday period) and has also sold to networks all over the world. Possibly on the back of that, ITV has now commissioned Downton Abbey, a major nine-part series scripted by Julian Fellowes about a country house in the Edwardian era and around the First World War, which will be about both the family and the servants, as with Upstairs Downstairs – so maybe costume drama is already starting to bounce back.

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The first thing that struck me about The Young Victoria was just how beautiful the whole film looks. The sunlit palaces, sweeping green lawns and, above all, the sumptuous costumes all work together to cast a spell – one I was delighted to fall under. The costumes are currently on display at Blenheim Palace – sadly, I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to see them before the event finishes at the  end of the month, but I’m putting in a link to an article about the exhibition.

Emily Blunt as Victoria

Emily Blunt as Victoria

I’d expected a lot from this film ever since I heard it was being made. It has a fine cast, headed by Emily Blunt in the title role, with other top names including Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter and Julian Glover. There’s also an interesting  up-and-coming director, Jean Marc Vallée – and a top scriptwriter, Julian Fellowes, who won an Oscar for his script for Gosford Park.  The name of Martin Scorsese as a producer was an added attraction, as if I needed one.

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I saw a trailer for the forthcoming movie The Young Victoria today, and can’t wait to see the whole thing – it’s released here in the UK on March 6, no date yet for the US as far as I know. I see that the official website  is now up although there isn’t all that much content as yet. With Julian Fellowes of Gosford Park fame as the scriptwriter, and a cast including Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany, Harriet Walter and other top actors, I have high hopes for this film. I have seen C.R.A.Z.Y., a previous film made by the director, French Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée, which was a powerful drama set in the glam-rock era – not a costume drama, but still very good. Oh yes, and Martin Scorsese is a producer!

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