Posted in costume drama, tagged Brendan Coyle, Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, ITV, Jim Carter, Julian Fellowes, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Rob James-Collier, Siobhan Finneran on November 28, 2010|
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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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This is just to say that I’ve now seen Glorious 39, Stephen Poliakoff’s latest movie, a period drama-cum-thriller set among the English aristocracy as war is breaking out. However, I’m not going to write a full review as I really didn’t like it at all and was disappointed, and I prefer to spend my time writing about the productions which I admire. The story seems to me to start well in the first half hour or so, but then becomes increasingly ludicrous and starts to turn into a bad horror film. I won’t give away the various plot twists, as they are supposed to come as a shock, but will just say I didn’t find them or the characters at all believable.
It’s a pity – I’d been looking forward to it as I’ve liked many of Poliakoff’s previous films, especially Close My Eyes (1991) and the mini-series Shooting The Past (1999). It also has a great cast, led by Romola Garai and Bill Nighy, with a good role for Julie Christie as an eccentric aunt. David Tennant and Hugh Bonneville both have fairly small parts – Tennant plays an MP who warns against appeasing Hitler, giving a powerful speech at a dinner party- and their scenes are probably the best in the movie. The costumes, Norfolk scenery, and music are all beautiful, and there are also some gorgeous cats in many of the scenes… but it’s all dragged down by the script. I just kept thinking of The Remains of the Day (1993), which deals with similar material, looking at fascist sympathisers in high places before the war, but does it immeasurably better.
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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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Posted in costume drama, George Eliot, tagged Andrew Davies, Barbara Hershey, BBC, Daniel Deronda, Daniel Evans, Edward Fox, Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Dancy, Jamie Bamber, Jodhi May, Robert Hardy, Romola Garai, Tom Hooper on June 22, 2009|
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After watching the Andrew Davies version of Middlemarch, I was keen to see his other major George Eliot adaptation, Daniel Deronda. Unfortunately, as with so many of the other films I keep writing about, it isn’t available on DVD in region 2 –though it used to be, and I’m using the sleeve of the deleted DVD as an illustration since I prefer it to the region 1 sleeve. So, once again, I had to buy on import.
Watching this not so long after Middlemarch, it struck me just how many similarities there are between the two dramas, and, of course, also between the two source novels. Both have a heroine and a hero who are not romantically destined for one another, but who become friends and whose stories sometimes counterpoint one another. Both also show the central characters constantly hemmed in and pressured by other people’s expectations.
In Daniel Deronda, Daniel and Gwendolen meet in the series’ opening scene, at the casino in Monte Carlo, and, looking at this beautiful young couple, you might well think they are going to end up together – but, in fact, their stories are about to fork off in very different directions, only occasionally intertwining.
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