Friday, January 17, 2014

BBC Love

Dear Friends,

Ahh, to all my fellow BBC/Masterpiece Theater lovers, how amazing is it that the world has embraced the nerdiness?  Perhaps we should right a direct "thank you" note to PBS?  Or maybe to the Duke & Duchess for openly loving Downton Abbey?  And now shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock are having their heyday too...I just LOVE it!

But perhaps the best thing about BBC films is that every ten minutes, you can exclaim, "Hey, it's...!!!!"  It seems to be an unspoken rule that they must be cast in at least 5 movies with each other.  Can't you just picture all of our favorite British actors hanging out around a big pot of tea & gossiping about all of the directors they've worked with?

Here are my Top-10 favorite British-miniseries of all time, ranging from current to obscure.  Many are available online for rental or watching----perfect for wintery evenings snuggled up inside.

10.  Jane Eyre (1983)

Long before he was a villain in The Rocketeer, or playing James Bond, Timothy Dalton played Mr. Edward Rochester.  One of Britain's most-loved gothic love story, and another beloved "Jane".  A lesser-known actress, Zelah Clarke is lovely as Bronte's governess-turned-heroine.
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9.  Daniel Deronda (2002)

George Elliot's Victorian love story focuses on unique issues of ethnicity and religion.   Truly, Mirah Lapidot, penniless and pure of heart, is a heroine we can all cheer for.   Hugh Dancy is charming as the title lead, Romola Garai is perfectly poised throughout, and Hugh Bonneville plays the villain with flair.  Lord Grantham who?
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8.  Mansfield Park (1999)

A controversial film, this BBC adaptation takes quite a few liberties...and though I feel Ms. Austen herself would not approve, the chemistry between Johnny Lee Miller's Edmund and Frances O'Connor's Fanny is palpable.  There are a few bits that are a little questionable & difficult to watch (implied abuse), but the acting is superb.
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7.  Persuasion (1971)

Oh Persuasion, my very favorite of all Jane Austen's novels. I found this edition at a going-out-of-business sale at a video rental store as a teenager.  It still has a spot on my shelf, in all it's VHS glory!  The hair and costumes are wonderfully '70s, but Ann Firbank plays Anne Elliot as I will always imagine her --- full of regret but still a strong, independent, free-spirited soul.
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6.  North & South (2004)

Based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, this adaptation stars Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.  It is a unique story as it examines the differences between Northern and Southern England during the height of the Industrial Revolution.  A brooding romantic lead, lots of sidelong glances, and also starring Brendan Coyle in a role you'll love just as much as Bates himself.
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5.  Downton Abbey (currently airing season 4)

Julian Fellowes, he is a master of the BBC.  Also known for Gosford Park, this series has millions of fans both in it's native England and around the world.  Starring some of my favorite actors (Dame Maggie Smith!), and with such gorgeous sets and costumes they have inspired Downton Days, Downton Parties, & even new Downton Teas.
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4.  Sense & Sensibility (1995)

Ang Lee's beautiful adaptation of Sense & Sensibility stars Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson as the eldest Dashwood sisters.  Kate Winslet was still a lesser-known actress at the time, but quickly took off after she later took on a tiny movie called Titanic.

Fun Facts:
Won 4 Oscars, 2 for Emma Thompson who both starred and wrote the screenplay.
Alan Rickman (Col. Brandon), Emma Thompson (Eleanor), and Hugh Grant (Edward) would later star together in Love Actually.
Alan & Emma would go on to play roles in the Harry Potter films as Snape and Professor Trewlaney.
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3.  A Room With A View (1985)

Merchant Ivory's A Room with A View is one of my favorite novel-to-film adaptations of all time.  Helena Bonham Carter was only 19 at the time she played Lucy Honeychurch in her first major role.  She is absolutely lovely.  Maggie Smith also stars, in a hilarious role as a fussy, nervous chaperone.
(Available on Netflix Instant Play!)
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2.  Wives & Daughters (1999)

This is one of those glorious aforementioned BBC-films, with familiar faces from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and more.  Michael Gambon is brilliant as a man struggling to keep up with the world and all of its changes.  It's also one of my favorite on-screen romances --- not head-over-heels love, rather admiration and affection created from quiet moments over time.
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1.  Pride & Prejudice (1995)

Did you have any doubt?  Of course this 5-hour adaptation of Jane Austen's most-loved novel would be #1.  Colin Firth embodied Mr. Darcy in a way that captured even the most modern of hearts, and Jennifer Ehle was the Lizzie Bennett we have always loved.  P&P singlehandedly revived the BBC movement, & starred an actress directly related to Jane herself.  I think she would have heartily approved.
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Also Recommend:
~ The Grand (1997)
~ Lark Rise to Candleford (2008 - 2011)
~ Land Girls (currently airing)
~ Persuasion (both 1995 and 2007 versions)
~ Sense & Sensibility (2008)
~ Jane Eyre (both 1996, 2006 versions)

To Watch:
~ Upstairs Downtstairs (1971)
~ The Paradise (currently airing on PBS)
~ Death Comes To Pemberly (coming soon to DVD)


I'd love to hear your favorites, too!  Comment below or tag us online!

Until Soon,
Sara / "Jane" xx

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