Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Garrow's Law- Sexy Lawyer from the late 18th-century!

Garrow's Law
Garrow's Law is a period legal drama that truly rocks. Even if you aren't a fan of modern legal shows, this is one you really need to see. A dramatization of real-life Georgian lawyer William Garrow, this follows trials at the Old Bailey in London when our legal system was in its infancy. Garrow was very modern in his approach to law, and apparently introduced the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" as legal counsel for the accused.

Andrew Buchan as William Garrow
Andrew Buchan as the titular Garrow is absolutely riveting,and he wears that waistcoat really well I must say. Does he not also look smashing in a cravat? (rhetorical question- all men look better in a cravat)

You may recognize Andrew Buchan as Jem Hearne in Cranford, or as St. John Rivers in the 2006 Jane Eyre. But this series really lets him show what a great actor he really is. And there is a bit of humour thrown in to the script to keep it lively.

Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah Hill
Lyndsey Marshal plays Garrow's love interest Lady Sarah Hill. She is basically a legal groupie, who enjoys hanging out at the Old Bailey watching the drama in the courtroom and ends up getting interested in the handsome barrister as well as the cases in which he is involved.

In real life, Sarah Dore was the mistress of Arthur Hill (Viscount Fairford) not his wife as is portrayed in this series. She did have a son with Hill, before moving on to become involved in an "irregular relationship" with William Garrow. She gave birth to two of Garrow's children before finally marrying him in 1793.

Lyndsey was seen most recently as Mabel the lady's maid in Julian Fellowes' Titanic and also as Cleopatra in the miniseries Rome and Ethel Montacue in The Young Visiters.

Alun Armstrong as attorney Thomas Southouse
Alun Armstrong (who you likely recognize as Flintwinch in Little Dorrit or as Inspector Bucket from Bleak House) is the perfect choice for Southouse, a Cheapside attorney to whom Garrow was articled as a young man. Armstrong's Southouse is a great foil for the headstrong, aggressive Garrow, often trying to rein him in when he gets too confrontational. Alun Armstrong apparently found the more subtle Southouse a pleasant change from the broader cartoonish Dickensian characters he has recently played.

There are only three series (seasons) of 4 episodes each at this point in time and BBC has no plans for a fouth series at this time. But the 12 episodes are each wonderful and well worth seeing more than once.

Any other fans of Garrow's Law out there?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Antiques Roadshow UK- My little weakness

Antiques Roadshow UK
Can you hear the single trumpet theme song of Antiques Roadshow UK in your head right now? If so, then you are one of the Antiques Roadshow addicts too. I'm glad I am not alone!

Why do I love Antiques Roadshow so much? Well, after finally figuring out how to use the DVR that I have had for a few months now I ended up with about 8 hours of the Roadshow recorded. So I had a marathon session last night which included 2 pots of tea and some chocolate I'm afraid. It is partly the history of the objects and the locations that pulls me in. That and the fact that I am inherently nosy, and I admit it makes me feel as if I am rummaging through other people's homes to see all of their treasures.

Fiona Bruce, the new presenter of Antiques Roadshow
Fiona Bruce is the new presenter of Antiques Roadshow. Apparently it is the new trend to have a sexy female presenter on shows from the UK these days. I admit that I was more fond of the previous male hosts, Michael Aspel (2000-2007) and Hugh Scully (1981-2000) but I'll try to keep an open mind.

Henry Sandon ceramics expert on Antiques Roadshow
My favourite expert has to be Henry Sandon. Who knew that one man could wax so poetic about ceramics and porcelain? He just loves his job and it's a joy to listen to him.

Paul Atterbury, expert on 20th century art and design
Paul Atterbury, an expert on art, decorative arts and design of the 19th and 20th centuries is a fount of knowledge and never seems to get stumped. He lectures and writes books on art and design, but admits that his most enjoyable activity is the Antiques Roadshow.

"Appearing on the Antiques Roadshow is an important and enjoyable part of my life. It appeals to me because I like meeting people and hearing their stories. Even though the Roadshow days are long and tiring, they are always exciting. Each item is a new challenge and a voyage into the unknown.”

Bunny Campione with her teddy bear
Bunny Campione is always fun to watch as she often does dolls or teddy bears or unusual miscellaneous items. This is her beloved teddy bear Hector in the photo above.

Lars Tharp with a large carp!
One of the many characters on Antiques Roadshow, Lars Tharp is often whipping his glasses off and holding objects just inches from his nose for closer inspection. Go Lars!

Antiques Roadshow at the Bowes Museum
The locations all across the UK where they film the Roadshow are also a big draw for me. My recent viewing stint included Brighton, The British Museum, Hever Castle and Chatsworth. And they always do a nice intro about the location to start off. How could you not love this show?????

OK, now it's confession time. How many of my readers are also known to spend (waste?) the occasional hour watching Antiques Roadshow when they should really be doing something else. Come on...

If it makes you feel any better, Robert Pattinson (famous vampire from Twilight) recently said that he wanted to be a presenter for Antiques Roadshow as he watched it when he was a child in England. “I would love to be presenting the show when some little old dear from Burnley comes in with a genuine Picasso or Rembrandt worth £5million.” I think we would all like to see that too Robert!

And although I like the PBS American version, I LOVE the BBC UK version. I guess it is more exotic from this side of the pond.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tom Wilkinson- Actor of the Week

Tom Wilkinson is one of those actors who pops up all over the place and you spend 15 minutes trying to remember his name and which other films you have seen him in. And I mean that in the best possible sense. He melts into a role and you forget who the actor is while you are watching him at work.

Tom Wilkinson as the dying Mr. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility
Although it is a small role, as the dying Mr. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Tom Wilkinson made quite an impression on me. How could John Dashwood not fulfill his promise to his dying father? For shame!

Tom Wilkinson with his friends and his gnome in The Full Monty
As the garden-gnome-loving Gerald in The Full Monty, Tom Wilkinson is hysterical and tragic all at the same time. When he is in the "dole queue" as the Brits say, I always burst out laughing when he starts his dance routine with the twirl at the end. Donna Summers Hot Stuff will always make me think of Gerald and his garden gnomes!

Gaz: Y' know Dave, it's a thought...
Gerald: Ha! I could just see Little and Large prancing around Sheffield with their widges hanging out. Now that *would* be worth 10 quid...
Gaz: Don't be so bloody daft. We were just saying...
Gerald: Widges on parade! Bring your own microscope! 

Tom Wilkinson as Hugh Fennyman in Shakespeare in Love

Tom was brilliant as Hugh Fennyman, "the money" in Shakespeare in Love, and he is the ultimate theatre groupie. His money buys him a role in the play, that of the apothecary. In the role of a very serious but very bad actor, his small part is unforgettable.

Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.

Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Chasuble and Anna Massey as Miss Prism
In The Importance of Being Earnest, Tom Wilkinson plays Dr. Frederick Chasuble, the romantic interest of Miss Prism.

Dr. Chasuble: Charity dear Miss Prism, charity! None of us are perfect. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. 

Tom Wilkinson as Pieter Van Ruijvin in Girl with a Pearl Earring
Tom Wilkinson was wonderfully evil as Vermeer's patron in Girl with a Pearl Earring. He looked like he was having some fun with this character and in fact was one of the best parts of this lovely but rather uneven film.

Van Ruijven: (Leering) Ripe as a plum, still unplucked.

Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin in John Adams
OK, case in point. Who amongst you would have recognized Tom Wilkinson from this photo alone? He brings Benjamin Franklin to life in John Adams.

Benjamin Franklin: You are a guest in Philadelphia. Fish, and guests, stink after three days.

Tom Wilkinson as Joe Kennedy Sr. in The Kennedys
In The Kennedys Tom was great as the hard nosed, hard driving head of the Kennedy clan. Don't mess with Joseph P. Kennedy.

Tom Wilkinson as Graham in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Tom seems to be channeling his inner child in the new film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I can't wait to see this when it comes out in a few weeks. His wife, actress Diana Hardcastle has a small role in it as well (as Carol) so it must have been fun to take a trip to India as a family.

Jean: How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don't?
Graham: The light, colours, smiles...all life is here.

So all I can say in conclusion is that Tom Wilkinson is HOT STUFF BABY! Any other films that you really enjoyed him in? He's been in quite a few...

P.S. Couldn't find a good photo of him as Seth Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit, but that was one of his best! And he is now filming The Lone Ranger as bad guy Latham Cole, with Johnny Depp as Tonto. I don't know whether to be thrilled or worried about the latter!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Jane Austen Book Club meets The Jane Austen Film Club

Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton in North and South
When Maria Grazia asked me to write a guest post for her blog My Jane Austen Book Club, I knew which photo I would lead off with. For any of you who don't know Maria Grazia too well, she has another blog Fly High which often features items about Richard Armitage, to the delight of those of us who share her taste in men.

Anyhow...I have a blog called The Jane Austen Film Club (I know, eerily similar) which I have been writing for about 2 years now. I am an optometrist during the day, so this is a part time gig for me. How, I hear you ask, does a Canadian optometrist decide to start blogging about period drama? Well, it all started with these two people:

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice 1995
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were in a photo similar to the one above which was plastered on the front of our weekly TV guide in 1995. As someone who had grown up avidly reading and watching Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, my interest was piqued. I was also the mother of two young boys aged 4 and 1 at the time, so I needed a bit of television which didn't involve Winnie the Pooh.

And the rest, as they say is history. I taped the series on our old VCR, and subsequently wore out the video tapes. Thankfully, there were more films and mini-series on the way!

Sense and Sensibility 1995
By the time I heard that Sense and Sensibility was coming out, I had already devoured Jane Austen's wonderful book Pride and Prejudice, which is what many of you did after being captivated by Jennifer and Colin. For Sense and Sensibility, I had time to read the book first before seeing the film. With the book fresh in my head, I remember thinking what a genius Emma Thompson was to transform such a wonderful book into such a wonderful film. I was thrilled when she won the Oscar for her screenplay.

Persuasion 1995

Well, you can see where this is leading can't you? Again, like many other females in the 1990s, I was delighted that Hollywood and the BBC were anticipating the needs of an emotionally frazzled working mother by pumping out film after film that seemed like they were made just for me! Sigh!

Emma 1996

Even the big Hollywood movie makers were getting in on this phenomenon. Jane Austen was the new "It Girl" 200 years after she had written her books!

But, back to the story of my blog. As my children grew, so did my book and video (then DVD) collection. My two weaknesses are books and films and Amazon and IMDb were just enabling me! When the internet came along, I noticed that there were a lot of Jane Austen related blogs, but not many on the film adaptations of her books and other 19th century novels. And then I got a laptop!!!!

Wives and Daughters 1999
So finally, I stopped writing in my head (usually in the shower) and started writing on my new laptop. And then my sister suggested a blog instead of a book or a website which were my first ideas. So this blogging thing has been a journey for a woman with no writing experience, but just a lifetime of reading and enjoying film adaptations of my favourite books. I will admit that I prefer to see a film version first before I read the book. The book is always richer and often easier to follow after seeing a film version (especially with Dickens' many characters).

The Buccaneers 1995
Along the way, I have discovered other brilliant authors like Mrs. Gaskell and Edith Wharton and George Eliot and the Brontës. Charles Dickens and Anthony Trollope have become my friends along with Thackeray and Hardy and P.G. Wodehouse. So many great books and so many great films! I get teased by my readers sometimes that I love ALL period drama and am not critical enough. I guess I am just so happy that they are making these films and mini-series AT ALL and I think even the worst period drama is better than the best reality TV. But I do have my faves of course, as do you I am sure.

I love the fact that my readers are always making suggestions of films I have yet to see. If only there was more time in the day!

Anne of Green Gables 1985
So if you would like to join the fun at The Jane Austen Film Club, come on by and add to the conversation. There are so many of us period drama junkies living all over this amazing planet and as far as I can tell, they are all really great people!

Thanks again to Maria Grazia for this opportunity to blather on about my favourite topic. It keeps me sane. And if you haven't read her hilarious account of going to see the village where the Vicar of Dibley was filmed, go take a look here.

Jenny Allworthy

P.S. Don't forget to visit Maria Grazia's My Jane Austen Book Club to see all of her other wonderful Austen related posts. Cheers!
P.P.S. Many thanks to my big sister for her encouragement and occasional editing and guest blogging. It has been a lovely way to spend time together.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Tamzin Merchant as Rosa Bud (groan) and Freddie Fox as Edwin in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

PBS aired The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the "tale of an opium-addicted choirmaster with an erotic obsession with his nephew's teenage fiancée", this past Sunday. I have been thoroughly enjoying Dickens Month on PBS Masterpiece and so watched this with high hopes but no expectations particularly, as I have never read the unfinished last novel of Dickens nor had I ever seen a film adaptation of this story. And I think that is likely why I loved this so much!

Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant and Freddie Fox in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

You see, the problem with adapting The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the screen, is that you have to come up with an ending for it as well because poor Dickens had a stroke and died before he was able to finish the book. So how it ends is really the mystery!

Gwyneth Hughes (writer of Miss Austen Regrets) had to decide whether to use endings that had already been written for the story by others, or whether to come up with one herself. She opted for the latter, saying of Dickens "you feel the presence in the room but you can't allow yourself to be frightened by it. You've got to be inspired by it... try to imagine that Dickens is quite amused and not going 'silly cow what are you doing?'"

Matthew Rhys as the opium addicted choirmaster John Jasper
So in order not to spoil the film for you, let me just give it my recommendation and let you see it for yourself. I have heard a few disappointed reviews from people who have read the book and are dissapointed with the ommisions and changes that Ms. Hughes made. However, I had no such concerns. I thought she did a great job and it came off as very Dickensian.

I have to say the acting was top notch but there are a few that stood out. Ron Cook as Durdles the stonemason was a hoot, constantly referring to himself in the third person- spot on as a Dickensian "character". As was David Dawson as Bazzard/Datchery. He was hilarious and riveting as the spy from London in this story.

Alfie Davis as "Deputy" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
But Alfie Davis, as Durdles's workhouse ragamuffin assistant "Deputy", stole my heart. OMG this kid is adorable! Honestly, it is worth seeing this film for the gorgeous scenery of Rochester and for impish Alfie alone.

So go ahead and catch this online at Masterpiece on PBS before the middle of May. You won't regret it (unless you have read the novel!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Celia Imrie- Actor of the Week

Celia Imrie
What a joy to have Celia Imrie as my Actor of the Week. She has been in so many of my favourite films that I had a hard time deciding which ones to feature.

Celia Imrie Fighter Pilot Bravo 5 Star Wars Phantom Menace

If you didn't know that Celia played the first female fighter pilot in Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace, don't feel bad. I had no idea either! Apparently George Lucas made her remove her lipstick. No lippy for fighter pilots?

Celia Imrie as Una Alconbury in Bridget Jones's Diary

Of course I will always think of Celia as Una Alconbury in Bridget Jones's Diary. She was perfect as Auntie Una, the meddling best friend of Bridget's mum.

Una Alconbury: You career girls. Can't put it off forever. Tick-tock, tick-tock


Una Alconbury:  Come and look at your gravy, Pam. I think it's going to need sieving.
Pam Jones:  Of course it doesn't need sieving. Just stir it, Una.

Celia Imrie in Calendar Girls- bigger buns!

In Calendar Girls, we will always remember Celia as "Bigger Buns" which is apparently what some fans shout out when they meet her in the street. Actually, as I was starting this post I told my husband I was featuring Celia Imrie he said he'd never heard of her. All I had to say was "Bigger Buns", and he replied "Oh, her!"

Celia Imrie as Mrs. Meyrick in Daniel Deronda
As the lovely Mrs. Meyrick in Daniel Deronda, we get to see Celia as a Victorian matron. Small part but very well done I think. I am reading Daniel Deronda now and I have her voice in my head as I am reading.

Celia Imrie as Mrs. Quickly in Nanny McPhee
Celia must have had a lot of fun playing the way over the top character of Mrs. Quickly in Nanny McPhee, chasing Colin Firth all over the highly coloured set. The food fight looked like a good time too!

Celia Imrie as Lady Glenmire in Cranford
In Cranford, Celia plays Lady Glenmire, not quite the grand lady that the Cranford crowd was expecting and she gives them quite a lot to talk about when she marries one of the few men in that village! Naughty, naughty!

Celia Imrie at the premiere of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I just can't wait to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This has been out in the UK for months, but we don't get it in North America until May 4th. I know I am going to end up buying this DVD! It looks like such fun from the trailers.

Celia Imrie as Grace Rushton in Titanic
I will be watching Titanic the TV miniseries again this weekend as I quite enjoyed it (despite what some critics and viewers are saying). Celia's character of Grace Rushton is a "new money" first class passenger who is snubbed by the aristocrats she is trying to impress. She is very concerned about her Pekinese Suki especially when the ship starts sinking.

So did I manage to cover all of your fave Celia Imrie films? Or would you like to add one or two to the list? I would have added the character of Mrs. Miller in The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling but I couldn't find a photo of her. She starred in Tom Jones with the father of her teenaged son Angus (Benjamin Whitrow aka Mr. Bennet from P&P 1995). And it is a gem if you have never seen it! Any others I missed?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Claudie Blakley- Actor of the Week

Claudie Blakley
Claudie Blakley is already a treasure of the English stage and screen. She has a face which can be period or modern as the role requires and we have enjoyed her talent in quite a few in the past few years! She is the daughter of Alan Blakley of The Tremeloes (Silence is Golden always makes me think of Colin Firth in Love Actually!)

Claudie Blakley and Jeremy Northam in Gosford Park
Most of us first saw her as Mabel Nesbitt in Gosford Park. She was lovely as the glove manufacturer's daughter whose husband treats her badly after her fortune disappears. I rather loved Mabel with her green dress that Maggie Smith poked fun at.

Fenella Woolgar, David Tennant and Claudie Blakley in He Knew He Was Right
As the hilariously nutty Camilla French in He Knew He Was Right, competing with her sister Arabella for the affections of Reverend Gibson (played to a tee by David Tennant) she gave this miniseries some much needed levity.

Camilla: You don't touch me! I'll stab you in the heart! And her, and him, and then myself! And then you'll all be sorry!

Uncle: Well that's a great deal of stabbing my dear. You'd best get on with it.

Claudie Blakley as Charlotte Lucas
In Pride and Prejudice 2005, Claudie absolutely nails the character of Charlotte Lucas. I love the story that her confrontation scene with Lizzy about Mr. Collins was written by Emma Thompson, who is given a thanks credit in the film, for additional dialogue. This scene really sounds like Emma Thompson doesn't it?

Elizabeth Bennet: Charlotte!
Charlotte Lucas: My dear Lizzie. I've come to tell you the news. Mr. Collins and I are... engaged.
Elizabeth Bennet: To be married?
Charlotte Lucas: Yes of course. What other kind of engaged is there?
[Lizzie looks shocked]
Charlotte Lucas: Oh, for Heaven's sake! Don't look at me like that Lizzie! There is no Earthly reason why I shouldn't be as happy with him as any other.
Elizabeth Bennet: But he's ridiculous!
Charlotte Lucas: Oh hush! Not all of us can afford to be romantic. I've been offered a comfortable home and protection. There's alot to be thankful for.
Elizabeth Bennet: But...
Charlotte Lucas: I'm twenty - seven years old, I've no money and no prospects. I'm already a burden to my parents and I'm frightened. So don't you dare judge me Lizzie. Don't you dare!

Charlotte Lucas with feather
And surely I wasn't the only one who was absolutely transfixed by the feather in Claudie's hair seeming to be alive as she walked into Lady Catherine de Bourgh's drawing room. I rather love that scene now.

Claudie in Bright Star
Claudie was lovely in Bright Star as Maria Dilke, wife of Charles Wentworth Dilke. This is a lovely film, which never fails to make me cry.

Jem Hearne and Martha in Cranford
As Miss Matty's beloved servant and friend Martha in Cranford, Claudie Blakley gives one of her many brilliant performances. I love this photo of Jem and Martha having a cuddle and a serious chat.

Claudie Blakley as Cynthia Lennon in Lennon Naked
I did not see Lennon Naked, but this photo of Claudie as John Lennon's first wife Cynthia makes me want to see it. Can anyone recommend this?

Emma and Robert Timmins in Lark Rise to Candleford
Opposite Brendan Coyle in Lark Rise to Candleford, Claudie Blakley is absolutely perfection. Sigh. She has given us a gift hasn't she?

So here is another supremely talented English actress and we look forward to more brilliant work from her. Thanks Claudie!



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