Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Buchan’

Dame Judi Dench, Lisa Dillon and Dame Eileen Atkins as Miss Matty, Mary Smith and Miss Jenkyns.

First of all, sorry to have been silent – I’ve been busy again, but have been watching costume dramas even though I haven’t been writing about them! Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favourite 19th-century authors and I’m now planning to have a season on my blog about adaptations of her work, starting with Cranford and its sequel and then going on to North and South and Wives and Daughters.

There were also 1970s adaptations of all these books, which I would love to compare with the more recent versions, as well as a 1964 Mary Barton and a 1982 version of her novella Cousin Phillis – but sadly none of these are ever repeated or available on video/DVD, so it seems unlikely I’ll get the chance to see them unless the BBC starts delving into its archives.


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I’ve now seen the whole series of BBC1’s new costume drama series, Garrow’s Law: Tales from the Old Bailey,  written by Tony Marchant, who has previously adapted Great Expectations, and directed by Peter Lydon. I enjoyed it a lot but can’t think of much to add to what I wrote here after the first episode, so I’m updating/expanding this posting instead of writing a whole new one. I do hope there will be a second series as the ratings were pretty good, around four million, and the drama seemed just to be getting into its stride when it was all over.

Aidan McArdle, Andrew Buchan and Alun Armstrong in a courtroom scene

I think Andrew Buchan in particular is excellent in the title role as pioneering 18th-century barrister William Garrow, who fought to make sure defendants were properly represented and not assumed to be guilty without a fair trial. I’d only seen him in one or two smaller parts before this, but in this drama he has an intense presence, and he makes a good combination with Alun Armstrong as his instructing attorney, Southouse.


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If you were wondering what to do on Sunday nights now that Emma has finished its run, the good news for UK viewers is that BBC1 is immediately following it with another historical drama. (Not sure when you will get this series in other countries.) Starting this weekend is Garrow’s Law, a four-part series based on the life and work of William Garrow, a pioneering 18th-century barrister at the Old Bailey who, from what I’ve read about this series, introduced the concept of cross-examination and was the first lawyer really to fight cases for the defence.


Andrew Buchan and Alun Armstrong

Andrew Buchan, who played Jem Hearne in Cranford and St John Rivers in the most recent Jane Eyre, takes the title role as William Garrow, with Alun Armstrong and Rupert Graves also starring. The writer is Tony Marchant, who has mainly scripted contemporary dramas but has done adaptations of Dickens’ Great Expectations and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in the past.

I thought I’d pass on links to a few sites for people interested in knowing more. The BBC has a site with a lot of information, and there is also an independent fansite, similar to those set up for some other recent costume dramas. The legal and historical consultant on the show, Mark Pallis, has set up a blog at WordPress giving background on the cases featured in the show, and Clive Anderson wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph about Garrow’s place in legal history.

I’m going to watch the show, but am hoping I find it easier to follow than Channel 4’s 18th-century legal drama City of Vice, where I found myself getting hopelessly lost every week…

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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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