Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Matthew Macfadyen- Actor of the Week

Matthew Macfadyen
Matthew Macfadyen has been fun to watch as a period actor over the last decade. He has played bad boys, awkward geeks, milquetoasts and leading men. He is certainly not afraid to stretch his acting chops. So...lets see what he has been in, and lets do it chronologically.

Matthew Macfadyen as Sir Felix Carbury
In the Andrew Davies adaptation of Anthony Trollope's masterpiece The Way We Live Now, Macfadyen plays the bad boy Sir Felix Carbury. He is marvelous in this role as he rides a roller-coaster of emotion. I hated and loved his character at the same time. And I must say, he does look wonderful in those boots!

Matthew Macfadyen in Spooks or MI5
I know MI5 isn't period, but Matthew's character of Tom Quinn was so instrumental in his career, I had to mention it. I am not normally a spy show kind of girl, but this show is so well done and with such great actors (Peter Firth, Rupert Penry-Jones, Richard Armitage, Hermione Norris, Keeley Hawes and many more)!

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy
As a Mr. Darcy for a whole new generation, Matthew Macfadyen managed to get a shy awkward spin on Mr. Darcy that made us unable to stay angry with him for his proposal speech in the rain. So cute! Pride and Prejudice- the muddy hems version is what I call this one.

Matthew Macfadyen as John Birt in Frost/Nixon
As John Birt in Frost/Nixon (well known in the UK as the Director General of the BBC in the 1990s) Matthew Macfadyen shows that he is not afraid of doing some character work and looking...well...a little less handsome than usual. He also bares his bottom in this film. I may have to rent this one again!

Matthew Macfadyen as Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit

As nice guy Arthur Clennam in Little Dorrit he really gets to show us what a great actor he is. Lots of screen time in this, one of my favourite period miniseries ever! I love him in this one.

Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood
As the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood 2010 he was almost unrecognizable. I liked this film, although it's not really my preferred historical period. Personally, I'm more into the Georgian to the Edwardian period. I wish I was more into the 13th century and then I would watch more of Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in BBCs Robin Hood. If anything could get me to watch Robin Hood, it's RA! Sorry Matthew.

Matthew Macfadyen as Philip in Pillars of the Earth
Matthew plays a monk in Pillars of the Earth, Prior Philip of Kingsbridge, where a cathedral is being built in the 12th century. This dramatization of Ken Follett's historical novel set in the era of King Stephen is quite good and Macfadyen's portrayal of the earnest and naive Philip is notable.

Matthew Macfadyen as the middle aged Logan Mountstuart
In Any Human Heart, Matthew Macfadyen plays the middle aged version of Logan Mountstuart. There is no lack of drama in this alternately heart breaking and uplifting miniseries. Macfadyen does a marvelous job of playing the main character drifting through the 20th century.

Matthew Madfadyen as Athos in The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers unfortunately bombed at the movie theater. I think it was trying to be too many things. Very difficult to update this classic with all kinds of special effects and not to lose the heart of the story. Oh, well.

I look forward to Matthew's performance as Oblonsky in Anna Karenina later this year opposite Keira Knightley again and directed by Joe Wright.

Well, here's to more wonderful roles for this talented actor. Looking at these photos, you can see the variety of roles he has played in the past and I'm sure he has many more to come. I'd love to see him do more films with his wife Keeley Hawes as well. I thought they were great together in Death at a Funeral.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer
This is one of my favourite TV shows ever. I can watch this anytime even if I have seen the episode a few times before. I just stumbled upon one I had never seen last night (PBS is still running them on Monday night where I live). It just makes me smile!

Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer- As Time Goes By
For anyone who has never seen this show, Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer) and Jean (Judi Dench) were lovers many years ago during the Korean War. They are separated by a misunderstanding but meet again by chance when Lionel needs a secretary from Jean's firm to help with his book "My Life in Kenya". He takes her daughter, Judith, out on a date and discovers she is Jean's daughter. The two reunite and fall back in love.

Alistair and Lionel- As Time Goes By
If you are a fan, you know that half the fun of this show is the witty banter between Lionel and Jean and the rest comes from interactions with the rest of the regular cast. Philip Bretherton plays Alistair Deacon, Lionel's smooth talking book publisher who is constantly annoying everyone, especially "Li".

Moira Brooker as Judith
Moira Brooker plays Jean's daughter Judith. She is twice divorced and always on the lookout for a good man. She doesn't work too hard at the office possibly due to the fact that the boss is her mum.

Jenny Funnel as Sandy
Sandy lives with Lionel, Jean and Judith by about the second season. She is like another daughter to Jean and keeps the office running like a top. She is also on the lookout for a man and we see her dating a variety of "interesting" characters.

As Time Goes By Reunion Special
This wonderful series ran from 1992 all the way to 2008, the later episodes being reunion specials. We follow our main 5 characters, plus Madge and Rocky, Penny and Stephen, Mrs. Bale the housekeeper at the country house and Lol Ferris the gardener. Funnily enough, Tim Wilton who plays Lol Ferris is Mr. Gardener from Pride and Prejudice 1995.

Jean and Lionel- As Time Goes By
So if you have never seen this show, you now know enough to pick up at any episode and enjoy it. A pot of tea every Monday night and a cuddle on the couch for me! Ahhhhh!

P.S. If you love this show too, please comment below with your fave episode, character or line from the show.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Georgette Heyer- Will the BBC or ITV take her on?

Georgette Heyer Venetia
It occurred to me after some late night Twitter action that there is a distinct lack of Georgette Heyer dramatization. Heyer wrote some absolutely cracking "Regency Romance" during the period of 1921-1972. An obvious fan of Jane Austen, she was a stickler for historical accuracy but also had a wonderful story telling ability.

Georgette Heyer Devil's Cub
If you have never cracked open one of her books, you have a lot of fun ahead of you. If you are already a fan then you probably wonder as I have, why she has been neglected by the venerable BBC and the upstart ITV networks who have done so well with their recent period dramas. Surely her books are ripe for adaptation to the screen! Shall we call Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995, Wives and Daughters) now? Or do you think Sandy Welch (North and South, Emma 2009) would do a better job on the screenplays?

Georgette Heyer Regency Buck
If you think this is a good idea, please leave a comment below, along with your suggestion for the first of her works to be dramatized. I will list her Regency/Georgian novels below to help jog your memory as to which is your fave. And then I'll do some lobbying across the pond!

Thanks for your help, my wonderful readers! (And thanks to C. Allyn Pierson for planting the idea in my head via Twitter)

And here is what we have from 1959 my friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Amr Waked and Ewan McGregor
OK, not a period drama but it's my blog and I loved Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. And I just wanted to get the word out to all of you with similar taste in film so that you can enjoy it too. Wasn't that nice of me? (wide grin) And don't get put off by the title. It's a RomCom and it's funny!

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor
It's rare that I exit a movie theatre with a big smile on my face, but that is the kind of feel-good film this is. Will it win any Oscars? Possibly not. Would it be a great film to take your spouse, friend or even parent to see? Absolutely. All ages were loving this one! And there is something about Ewan McGregor that just makes you happy. I think it's that big goofy grin of his. And Emily Blunt is charming.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked
Kristin Scott Thomas is even funnier in this one than she was in Four Weddings and a Funeral. She is just a hoot! I have to see this one again just to see the interaction between her character and her teenaged son. Hilarious!

Amr Waked as Sheikh Muhhamed is a wonderful talent, and actually from Egypt but then the actress who plays Dr. Jones's Scottish wife is actually English, so there you go.

Ewan McGregor as Dr. Fred Jones and Emily Blunt as Harriet Chetwode-Talbot
There were two familiar actors with smaller parts in this one. Tom Mison (Mr. Bingley from Lost in Austen) plays Harriet's boyfriend and military man Capt. Robert Mayers and Hugh Simon (Malcolm Wynn-Jones from Spooks/MI5) plays a Cabinet Minister who can sort of fish. Both are brilliant especially Hugh, or "Malcolm the tech guy from MI5" as he's known in our house.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
The scenery and cinematography is gorgeous. So if you need an uplifting fun film this month, go and see this one. It's a keeper!   I'm off to buy the book (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday) as I've heard it is pretty amazing too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen- time traveling Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen and time travel...can it be done? Absolutely. And it works really well. For those of us who are perhaps a little too familiar with Pride and Prejudice, Lost in Austen is especially fun.

Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price in Lost in Austen
Amanda Price: It is a truth generally acknowledged that we are all longing to escape. I escape always, to my favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. I've read it so many times now the words just say themselves in my head and it's like a window opening. It's like I'm actually there. It's become a place I know so intimately, I can see that world. I can...touch it. I can see Darcy. Whoa...(slams book shut)...Amanda! Now...(opens book again)...where was I?

Pemberley garden in Lost in Austen
Amanda Price: I'm not hung up about Darcy. I do not sit at home with the pause button on Colin Firth in clingy pants, okay? I love the love story. I love Elizabeth. I love the manners and language and the courtesy. It's become part of who I am and what I want. I'm saying that I have standards.
Frankie: Oh, you have standards, pet. I hope they help you on with your coat when you're 70.

Lost in Austen Country Dance
Mr. Bingley: Darcy regards all forms of sudden locomotion as emblematic of ill-breeding. Hunting, tennis, rising precipitately from a chair...
Mr. Darcy: When Miss Price and I dance, sir, there shall be nothing sudden.
Amanda Price: I can't dance this sort of dance.
Mr. Darcy: Nor I. Together we shall make a shambles. But we shall do it with such authority that everyone will stare at us to learn the step. 

Wet shirt Darcy in Lost in Austen
Amanda Price: [after Mr. Darcy emerges from the water] I am having a bit of a strange post-modern moment here.
Mr. Darcy: Is that agreeable?
Amanda Price: Oh, yes. Yes.

Wickham in Lost in Austen
Amanda Price: Wickham. You are a bastard, but you are the right bastard at the right time.
Mr. Wickham: One does one's best.


Amanda Price: Hear that sound, George? Duh-uh-uh-uh! That's Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer.


This is a lovely cheeky little bit of fun and I love Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Bennet. Gemma Arterton was adorable as Lizzie Bennet with a pixie cut and a mobile phone! And I'd love to see more of Tom Riley (Wickham). I think I liked his character the best.

So if you haven't yet seen this one it's a great bit of fun. And watch out for Tinkey Winkey. I loved that bit.


N.B. If you are watching with younger viewers, there is one scene where Amanda lifts her skirt to reveal her "landing strip" or "standard pubic topiary" as she calls it, to Lydia. It would likely go straight by a pre-teen without registering but I know some of my readers might be sensitive to this. It's just there for a laugh and to demonstrate the cultural chasm over two centuries, but they probably could have left this out. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dan Stevens- Actor of the Week

Dan Stevens
OK, I admit it. I have a soft spot for the English intellectual actor. What is it do you think, the Oxbridge posh accent or the wonderful witty banter when interviewed? Am I alone ladies? Here we have another cutie from Cambridge (Emmanuel College/English Lit) Dan Stevens, who is riding the Downton Abbey wave of popularity at the present. He does seem to be a truly decent guy. He gives the "I'm not really posh" line that we hear regularly from Hugh Grant, however he is happily married with a young daughter and so seems to be a decent guy- very like his character Matthew Crawley from Downton!

Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility 2008
Most of us got our first glimpse of Dan as the sexed-up Andrew Davies version of Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility 2008. Infinitely preferable to Hugh Grant's stiff necked Edward in S&S 1995, we had him chopping wood in the rain (wet shirt) to get us interested. A very good outlet for the pent up frustration of the character as he wrestles with his conscience and his libido at the same time! Oh, poor Edward.

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey
As the utterly likeable Manchester lawyer Matthew Crawley, Dan really upped his profile. When he became heir to the Downton Estate, even Mary started to view him differently, but when he returned for season 2 all buff and in his uniform...well...phwoar!

Dan Stevens in uniform as Captain Crawley

Do you agree? A bit edgier, no? Anyhoo...he has lots of fans now and we look forward to seeing him in Season 3. I wonder what American Granny Shirley MacLaine will make of him?

Dan Stevens in Vamps
As the love interest of NYC vampire girl Krysten Ritter in this year's Vamps starring Alicia Silverstone and written and directed by Clueless genius Amy Heckerling, I want to like this one but the early buzz is not good. And the tag line is "NICE GIRLS SUCK". Rats!

Dan Stevens and Domenic Cooper

More promising is the reunion of Dan with S&S alumni Domenic Cooper and Hattie Morahan in Summer in February. It is billed as "A true tale of love, liberty and scandal amongst the Edwardian artists' colony in Cornwall" and is in post-production due out later in the year. Fingers crossed.

And here he is in a BAFTA interview being adorable and demonstrating a bit of that posh Cambridge accent.


So let's hope for more wonderful roles in the future for this supremely talented young man!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wentworth Woodhouse- The Real Downton Abbey!

Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, England
I am most of the way through the book Black Diamonds, The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, by Catherine Bailey and I just had to share the story with you.

This is the REAL Downton Abbey, and it's even in Yorkshire! The country seat of the Fitzwilliam family, this is the story of the house, the family and the fortune made from the local coal mining industry. It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction...well, this is one story which HAS to be filmed. And since the house is now standing empty, waiting for repairs and a 200 million development deal (hotel, museum, wedding venue etc) now would be the time to film it!

Black Diamonds- The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey
There is so much in this book I hardly know where to start. Love, money, greed, backstabbing, betrayal, lies and even a connection with the Kennedy family. And best of all, one of the largest houses in England as a backdrop. Thankfully, author Catherine Bailey is also a film and television producer who read history at Oxford. If there was ever a woman to bring this story to the screen, she is the one. But when?

I bet you can't read just one chapter. Un-put-down-able! And the Fitzwilliam family make the Crawley family seem heroically well adjusted. Seriously!

I won't spoil the story for you. But I will be getting in touch with Catherine Bailey to beg her to write a screenplay. Seriously!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gillian Anderson- Actor of the Week

Gillian Anderson
Gillian Anderson is a wonderful chameleon actress. She switches effortlessly from English to American accent, as she was brought up on both sides of the pond. She is not afraid to make herself look less than glamorous, although she has been voted one of the sexiest women on the planet a few times. And refreshingly, she just doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks of her. I have to say that I admire her a lot!

Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-Files
Although I wasn't a big fan of the show, you could not have lived through the 1990s without appreciating the fact that a huge audience were hooked on Scully and Mulder of The X-Files. Gillian was only 24 years old and a total unknown when she got the part of Dana Scully in 1993. Winner of an Emmy, a Golden Globe and 2 SAG awards for this role, she was a great strong role model for young women.

Gillian Anderson as Lily Bart in The House of Mirth
In her first period role, she rocked the part of Lily Bart in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. This is sitting in my DVD collection waiting to be watched again. This winter just hasn't been long or cold enough to watch all the films I need to see. This one will move to the top of the pile however. It is wonderful!

Gillian Anderson with Rob Brydon in Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
I have not yet seen Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I understand it is a bit unusual to say the least. A vehicle for the comic duo of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, it's a film-within-a-film about the essentially unfilmable novel Tristam Shandy (the 18th century "metafictional" novel). Anyone out there seen this one? People seem to either love it or hate it! I'll bet Gillian was good however.

Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock in Bleak House
I can however, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically recommend Bleak House, in large part because of Gillian Andersons amazing portrayal of Lady Dedlock. "Bored to death..."  If you haven't seen this stellar BBC production of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, you MUST see it. As it is a miniseries, you have to break it up over a few evenings, but you will have a hard time tearing yourself away from this one. Here is the link for my review of Bleak House.

Gillian Anderson and Tom Hollander as The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Any Human Heart
In the relatively small role of The Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson) in Any Human Heart she was, again, amazing. The miniseries was pretty good but not anything I really have to watch again soon.

Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Castaway in The Crimson Petal and the White
As a brothel owner in Victorian London, Anderson is almost unrecognizable. It looks like she had a bit of fun with this role and why not? This is a wonderful series but a bit gritty (OK, a lot gritty) so if that's not your cup of tea, take a swerve on this one. If you don't mind a bit of grit (and nudity) this one is awesome!

Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham in the latest BBC Great Expectations
As she was so good as Lady Dedlock, she was a natural for the role of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. The Brits have seen this one already (and loved it) but we get it soon on PBS Masterpiece. Click here to read my teaser about The Battle of the Miss Havishams.

So there is a little look at Gillian Anderson and her forays into period drama. I'll bet there is lots more to come from this talented lady. Yay!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sense and Sensibility Poetry

Sense and Sensibility 1995

No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch'd from all effectual aid,
We perish'd, each alone;
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulphs than he.
"The Castaway" (1799), lines 61-66
William Cowper 

 Is love a fancy, or a feeling? No.
It is immortal as immaculate Truth,
'Tis not a blossom shed as soon as youth,
Drops from the stem of life--for it will grow,
In barren regions, where no waters flow,
Nor rays of promise cheats the pensive gloom.
A darkling fire, faint hovering o'er a tomb,
That but itself and darkness nought doth show,
It is my love's being yet it cannot die,
Nor will it change, though all be changed beside;
Though fairest beauty be no longer fair,
Though vows be false, and faith itself deny,
Though sharp enjoyment be a suicide,
And hope a spectre in a ruin bare.

Sonnet VII
Hartley Coleridge

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

Sonnet 116,
William Shakespeare

Of things vnseene how canst thou deeme aright,
Then answered the righteous Artegall,
Sith thou misdeem'st so much of things in sight?
What though the sea with waues continuall
Doe eate the earth, it is no more at all:
Ne is the earth the lesse, or loseth ought,
For whatsoeuer from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide vnto an other brought:
For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.

The Faerie Queen excerpt, 1590
Edmund Spenser

Well you can tell what sort of mood I was in tonight can't you? (Heaving heavy sigh of satisfaction.)

Thanks so much to Jane Austen, Emma Thompson and some of the great English poets.



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