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Posts Tagged ‘Wuthering Heights’

Classic literary adaptations on TV might be in short supply at the moment, but there are two feature film versions of the Brontës’ novels due for release in 2011 – a new Jane Eyre directed by Cary Fukunaga and a new Wuthering Heights directed by Andrea Arnold. I’d be more excited about adaptations of works which haven’t been brought to the screen so many times already – but, nevertheless, will look forward to seeing both of these, especially the new take on Jane Eyre, as it is one of my favourite novels and I’ve reread it many times over the years. I loved the Sandy Welch version with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, which I hope to re-watch and review soon, but am always game for a new version too.

Seeing the trailer for the new Jane Eyre reminded me that I hadn’t yet got round to watching the most recent feature film version, from 1996, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt, although I bought the DVD some time back. (I didn’t see it on release because my children were small then and it was hard to get out to the cinema.) I’ve now watched this one and have rather mixed feelings about it – my main problem being, perhaps surprisingly, that it felt too reined-in and not passionate enough. I have always remembered the sensuous romance of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, and I suppose I expected something of the same atmosphere in this adaptation – but this is a far quieter film, with much of the emotion kept so far beneath the surface that it all but vanishes.

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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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Just a quick taster of a few coming costume drama attractions on British TV this autumn and winter … these are nearly all BBC series or films, with one from ITV. I don’t think Channel 4 has announced its autumn season yet, but will hope to post something about that as and when it does.

The most eagerly awaited series has to be the new Sandy Welch adaptation of Emma, and there has also been a fair bit of information about a Cranford follow-up in store at Christmas – here’s a link to a fan site on the series -  but there are also several other goodies to look forward to:

Desperate Romantics – on BBC2, a major new six-part series about the Pre-Raphaelites, apparently starting later this month – written by Peter Bowker who scripted  Blackpool (not really a costume drama but I loved it) and also the latest version of  Wuthering Heights.  Starring Aidan Turner, Rafe Spall, Tom Hollander, Samuel Barnett.
There is already a fan site for this series which has brought together a lot of info, interviews and pictures.

Garrow’s Law - on BBC1, a four-part 18th-century legal drama inspired by the life of pioneering barrister William Garrow, starring Andrew Buchan, who was in Cranford, and Alun Armstrong.

Small Island - two-part drama on BBC1,  adapted from Andrea Levy’s novel and set in 1940s Jamaica and London. Starring Ruth Wilson, who took the title role in the Andrew Davies version of Jane Eyre, with Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Ashley Walters and Naomie Harris.  

Land Girls - new BBC1 daytime drama about the Second World War, with an impressive cast including Nathaniel Parker and Christine Bottomley – this is apparently being shown in September:

Enid Blyton, Gracie Fields and Margot Fonteyn - three one-off dramas for BBC4 which all look to have really impressive casts, especially the first of these, which stars Helena Bonham-Carter as Blyton, with Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson. The Gracie Fields film stars Jane Horrocks of Little Voice fame, and the Margot film stars Anne-Marie Duff, who played Queen Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen – other casting hasn’t been announced for these two yet.
As well as the general press release, here’s a link to another release with more detail about the Enid Blyton drama.

Wuthering Heights -  on ITV, this adaptation has already been shown in the US but not over here – it is supposed to be coming up here this autumn or maybe at Christmas, and is adapted by Peter Bowker, starring Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley. There are rumours this could be the “last ITV costume drama” – I certainly hope not, and I find it very hard to believe that will be the case in the medium to longer term!

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Good news for costume drama fans in the UK. It had seemed as if the new ITV version of Wuthering Heights might not be shown here until next year because of the credit crunch – but, according to an article in today’s Daily Mirror, it will be shown here before Christmas. So something to look forward to amid all the doom and gloom!

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There was a report in yesterday’s Sunday Times which said that ITV is cutting back heavily on drama because of a slump in revenue, and that costume dramas are likely to be hard hit.

Apparently ITV has already scrapped a new production of A Passage to India - I didn’t know about that, but have belatedly found a Guardian report I missed in December – and also won’t be making any more episodes of Sharpe.  Also sounds as if the showing of ITV’s new Wuthering Heights, which I think has already been shown in the US, could be further delayed in the UK.

With the BBC also reported to be cutting back on costume dramas, there could be a bleak patch ahead for those of us who love them – although I do suspect this could all change again as soon as one of these dramas turns out to be a smash hit!

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A Happy New Year to anyone who stops by to read this blog! I’ve been trying to find out what costume dramas are coming up at the cinema and on TV in the coming year. Here are details of a few I know about, though there are doubtless many more in the pipeline .

Lark Rise to CandlefordA new season of this has already started on BBC1, following on from the Christmas special. Must admit I’m not a big fan of this show, as I find it too sweet and chocolate-boxy – but clearly I’m in the minority, as it gets great ratings. I’m not sure when this will turn up in the US and elsewhere.

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