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Posts Tagged ‘Nathaniel Parker’

Just passing on a couple of pieces of costume drama news. First off, the bad news is that the BBC is reportedly axing yet another of its few remaining period dramas, Casualty 1906/07/09. The Daily Telegraph newspaper had a report on this, quoting the main star of the series, Cherie Lunghi, who says the BBC is now more interested in making reality shows. I haven’t actually seen this series, but had heard good things about it so am disappointed it is being scrapped.

However, as one period drama bites the dust, another one is getting a second series. Land Girls, set in the Second World War, is set to return. I watched and reviewed the first series, which I found rather soapy although it did have some good moments, and it starred Nathaniel Parker, who is one of my favourites, although sadly he was written out and won’t be in the second series.

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I’ve finally caught up with the five-part series Land Girls, which was shown earlier this year on BBC1 in a teatime slot to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I did enjoy parts of it, and loved some of the actors’  performances, but had hoped for more.

Sophie Ward, Summer Strallen and Nathaniel Parker

On the plus side, it all looks gorgeous, costumes, sets and landscapes alike – the series was made in and around Toddington Station on the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway, a preserved steam line – and the music by Debbie Wiseman is beautiful and haunting. There is a fine cast, with the best-known names probably being Nathaniel Parker and Sophie Ward as Lawrence and Ellen Hoxley, lord and lady of the manor where the girls are based. They both give good performances, as do the actresses playing the various land girls – I think Summer Strallen is especially good as Nancy, a well-spoken office worker who struggles to get used to living on the land, and who gets involved in an affair with Lawrence.

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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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I first became interested in Hardy when I had to study Far from the Madding Crowd for O-level back in the 1970s. It’s a book  I’ve reread many times over the years since then (and studied for other exams), and I still love it . His world view here is sunnier than in late masterpieces like Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Jude the Obscure, but starting to darken, and the title, quoted from Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard, is definitely ironic. The madding crowd is never very far away from woman farmer Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who court her.

Although the 1967  John Schlesinger movie starring Julie Christie, Terence Stamp and Alan Bates is the most famous adaptation of this novel (I have now reviewed that version too), I think the 1998 ITV mini-series is also a  fine production, and it sticks much more closely to the book. It was directed by Nicholas Renton, who also made the excellent BBC mini-series of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters a year later, and, like that production, has a rich, multi-layered feeling to it, with achingly beautiful landscapes and at times an underlying flavour of melancholy.  It’s interesting to see how similar the sleeve of the  British DVD of this production is to the sleeve of the Schlesinger version!

The sleeve of the British DVD of the ITV production

The sleeve of the DVD of the Schlesinger movie

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