Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stephen Fry- Actor of the Week

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry is truly a national treasure in England. He is part of the culture of Britain at this point. I love him. He is such a wonderful combination of intelligence and vulnerability as well as being a fantastic actor. Comedy is his specialty, having started out in the Cambridge Footlights Club with Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie who both remain his dear friends to this day. Emma Thompson once described Stephen Fry as "90% gay, 10% other" but I say he is 100% fabulous!

His love of all things technological is well documented. He owned one of the very first Apple computers in the 80s and apparently has a collection of mobile phones. He is a regular on Twitter where he mostly hilarious but occasionally likes to bring attention to various charities and causes, the most recent of which is the campaign to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

Stehpen Fry as Oscar Wilde

In the film Wilde, he portrays Oscar Wilde himself. An obvious bit of casting, this one looks fabulous, and yet I have never seen it. Can anyone give us a recommendation? I think I'll hunt this one out. I love Oscar Wilde and I love Stephen Fry.

Oscar Wilde:  In this life there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants. The other is getting it.

Stephen Fry as Inspector Thompson in Gosford Park

In Gosford Park, he plays the hilariously inept Inspector Thompson. There is so much going on in this film but even so, Fry's Inspector Thompson stands out. Comic genius.

Constable Dexter: Sir, someone's traipsed a load of mud in down here.
Inspector Thompson: Not now, Dexter, please.

Constable Dexter: Inspector, there's a broken coffee cup down here.
Inspector Thompson: Dexter, they have people to clear these things up. You get on with your own job.

Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster

Perfectly cast as the all knowing valet Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster, Fry and Laurie seem to be having the time of their lives filming three wonderful seasons of P. G. Wodehouse's dynamic duo.

Bertie Wooster: Tell me, Jeeves, were you always like this, or did it come on suddenly?
Jeeves: Sir?
Bertie Wooster: The brain, the gray matter. Were you an outstandingly brilliant child?
Jeeves: My mother thought me intelligent, sir.
Bertie: Well, can't go by that. My mother thought me intelligent.

Stephen Fry as The Duke of Wellington in Blackadder 3 with Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent

Stephen and Hugh were together again in a few Blackadders. The episode above from Blackadder the Third is entitled Duel and Duality with The Duke of Wellington challenging the Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie) to a duel for taking advantage of his nieces. Of course it ends up Blackadder involved and mayhem ensues.

Duke of Wellington: There's only one way to win a campaign: SHOUT, SHOUT AND SHOUT AGAIN!

Stephen Fry as General Melchett with Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder

Stephen was also in Blackadder Goes Forth as General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett. Hilarious as usual. Must watch this again soon!

Blackadder: Remember you mentioned a clever boyfriend?
Nurse Mary: Yes.
Blackadder: I leapt on the opportunity to test you. I asked if he'd been to one of the great universities: Oxford, Cambridge, Hull.
Nurse Mary: Well?
Blackadder: You failed to spot that only two of those are great universities!
Nurse Mary: You swine!
Melchett: That's right! Oxford's a complete dump!

Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes

As Sherlock's brother Mycroft in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, we get to see a bit more of Stephen than usual. Thankfully for some strategic photography, not too much, as he walks around completely naked in one scene.

Mycroft Holmes: Good evening, Mrs Watson. I'm the other Holmes.
Mary Watson: You mean there's *two* of you? How marvelous! Could this evening get any better?

Stephen Fry as host of QI

When I have a few moments to myself and I need a good laugh, I find a snippet of QI on YouTube. I will warn you if you haven't seen this before, this is one of the most entertaining quiz shows around and will suck you into the Youtube vortex for hours. Feeling brave?

So hopefully this post has given you lots of inspiration for viewing (or re-watching) some of Stephen Fry's work, both period and modern. I know I am going to dig out some Blackadder at the very least!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Parade's End debuts on BBC in UK

Parade's End

BBC literary adaptation Parade's End debuted in the UK last night to distinctly mixed reviews (critics loving it, viewers posting comments not so much). I can't comment myself, being trapped here in Canada unable to see it, but it is being hailed by critics as the "thinking man's Downton Abbey" or "Downton Abbey for grown-ups" the latter being partly in reference to the "two sex scenes in the first six minutes" according to the Daily Mail.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall as Christopher and Sylvia Tietjens 

Parade's End is an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's masterpiece tetralogy of novels by the same name and is a big budget lavish production starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) with screenplay by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) and directed by Susanna White (Bleak House, Jane Eyre). It is a tale of love and betrayal set in the Edwardian years leading up to WWI, a love triangle between a conservative English aristocrat, his heartless socialite wife and a young suffragette.

The supporting cast is just as impressive including Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Anne-Marie Duff, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Palmer to list just a few.

Miss Fox, Mrs Wannop and Horsley

With more depth in it's characters (and less likeability if I read the online comments correctly) it may be a little harder to love for those of us used to the fun fluffiness of Downton. However, if the critics are not leading us astray, it may be worth hanging in through the mumbled upper crust accents and choppy story line to follow this 5 episode miniseries to it's conclusion.

I'll update this post after the conclusion and then review it myself after it airs on this side of the pond on HBO (when that will be, I have no idea!).

Australian actress Adelaide Clemens as Valentine the Suffragette

The actress playing Valentine, part of the love triangle involving the two leads, is Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens who had to prove herself to get the part. Apparently she loved the books so much that she devoted herself to learn the upper crust English accent required for the role.

Janet McTeer as Mrs. Satterthwaite

Jane Austen fans will recognize Janet McTeer (Sense and Sensibility 2008) as Mrs. Satterthwaite, the mother of Sylvia Tietjens. Keep IMDb handy for this miniseries!

Well, here's hoping we get this one over the pond here in the not too distant future. Has anyone heard? Perhaps I have time to read the novels first. Not a bad idea actually. It might help with the supposedly mumbled dialogue!


P.S. Check out the comments below for how to find this online if you aren't in the UK. Apparently it will come to HBO sometime in 2013. Also a great link for an article about the books from The Guardian. I have the greatest readers! And after seeing the first episode on YouTube, I give it two thumbs up. Way up! And although you can't walk away from it for a moment (or you will miss something) I didn't find the dialogue hard to understand. Perhaps my ear is getting tuned to the accents after so many years.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jeeves and Wooster 1990-1993

If you need cheering up for any reason, Jeeves and Wooster is just what the doctor ordered. I was introduced to P.G. Wodehouse's wonderfully funny books by my sister, who gave me one or two during my first year of university. She thought that I needed an antidote for my science and calculus courses. And of course, she was right (she loves it when I say that!).

Jeeves, the all knowing valet for Bertie Wooster

My favourite kind of period piece is one which has good literature behind it and this DVD collection is no exception. Filmed for ITV in the early 1990s, the brilliant comic duo of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie do ultimate justice to the beloved P.G.Wodehouse books.

Already a well established comedy act, these two had their own show, A Bit of Fry and Laurie and so already had the shorthand that a great comic duo requires. Bertie Wooster is a well heeled bachelor who seems to be enjoying his freedom from all responsibility- full stop. His valet Jeeves makes sure he keeps enjoying that freedom, all the while keeping everything just the way Jeeves likes it too!

Jeeves: Travel is highly educational, Sir.
Bertie: I cannot do with any more education, Jeeves. I was full up years ago!

Bertie Wooster plays piano for Jeeves

Hugh Laurie uses the most of his musical talents as well playing 1930s beauties on the piano such as Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher". He gets long suffering Jeeves to help him out with the chorus, and the result is one of my fave scenes in the series.

Bertie: [singing Minnie the Moocher] Hi dee hi dee hi dee hi
Jeeves: [speaking] Hi dee hi dee hi dee hi,  sir!


Bertie: [pausing while playing "Minnie the Moocher" on the piano] Now that is clever, Jeeves.
Jeeves: Sir?
Bertie: That part about "the king of Sweden" and "things she was needin'."
Jeeves: Yes, His Majesty King Gustav appears to have been exceptionally generous to the young lady, sir.
Bertie: No, I mean, it rhymes, Jeeves.
Jeeves: Almost, sir.

Aunt Agatha

Aunt Agatha is one of the dreaded aunts who are always trying to get Bertie respectably married off. And of course that is exactly what both Bertie and Jeeves are trying to avoid. Mayhem ensues as always!

Bertie: But I don't want to be molded! I'm not a jelly.
Aunt Agatha: That is a matter of opinion. 

Aunt Dahlia with the French chef Anatole- Yummmmmmm

Aunt Dahlia was played by four different actresses in each of the four series, but no matter what she looks like, she is always trying to get Bertie to do something he would rather not do.

Bertie: [at the telegraph office] To Aunt Dahlia: I say, look here. This is absolutely impossible. Not to say out of the question. Spode has already threatened yours truly. Sorry and all that. About the cow creamer I mean. Anyway, there it is. Toodle-pip. Your affectionate nephew, Bertie.

Telegraph operator: Is it a code sir?

Gussie Fink-Nottle

Telegram to Bertie-"Come immediately. Serious rift Madeline and Self. Unless you come earliest possible moment prepared lend every effort reconciliation, wedding will be broken off. Reply, Gussie"


Reply from Bertie-"Fink-Nottle, Totleigh Towers, Totleigh-in-the-Wold, Gloucestershire. Yes, that's all very well. You say 'come here immediately,' but how dickens can I? Relations between Pop Bassett and self not such as to make him welcome Bertram. Would hurl out on ear and set dogs on. What serious rift? Why serious rift? Why dickens? What have you been doing to the girl? Reply, Bertie."

Silver cow creamer

My eldest son loves to watch Jeeves and Wooster with me when he is home and even brought me back a cow creamer from a school trip years ago. Not a silver one, but it has pride of place in my china cabinet and I treasure it.

I think I know what we will do the next time he is home from University. Aunt Dahlia here we come!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chariots of Fire 1981

Since I couldn't get the theme from Chariots of Fire out of my head after hearing it almost daily at the medal ceremonies in London, I decided to watch the film again for the first time in 30 years. I was in high school the last time I saw this film, so it was all new again. And it was well worth revisiting.

Na na na na naaa naaah, na na na na naaah...

The story of two runners in the 1924 Olympics, one a religious Scotsman running for the glory of god, and the other a Jewish student at Cambridge, running to prove himself to the world, is especially compelling viewing if you were one of those who enjoyed watching the Olympics.  If you hated the recent coverage of the XXX Olympiad in London, then skip this post and wait for my next one on Jeeves and Wooster.

The Great Court Run at Trinity College, Cambridge won by Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross)

Harold Abrahams, played by Ben Cross is the student at Cambridge who is competing to prove himself to his classmates, his girlfriend and the world. There are class struggles and also some fairly overt discrimination which were certainly present in the 1920s more than now.

Ian Charleston as Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

Eric Liddell, played by Ian Charleston is the religious Scot, born in China to missionary parents, who just loves to run. Originally a rugby player, he switched to running in order to attend the Olympics before he returned to China as a missionary himself.

Harold Abrahams at the finish line

I won't spoil the story for you if you have never seen Chariots of Fire or if it has been a while for you too. But you can't usually go wrong with a best picture winner and this one, based on a true story is no exception. For those fans of period drama, look out for Cheryl Campbell as Eric Liddell's devout sister Jennie. We know her as the long suffering Lady Carbury, mother of Matthew McFadyen's Sir Felix Carbury in The Way We Live Now. Alice Krige who plays the soprano girlfriend of Harold Abrahams, was recently seen as Lady Russell in the 2007 version of Persuasion with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones.

And for your viewing pleasure, find below the clip of the theme from Chariots of Fire played at the Olympic Opening ceremony starring Rowan Atkinson in his Mr. Bean persona. Hilarious, even if you have already seen it. (The IOC wants you to watch it on their YouTube channel so just click on their link)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pride and Prejudice Location- My afternoon at Pemberley

As I am on vacation for the next week, I thought I would dig out an old post for you and relive my day at Pemberley. It was a lovely afternoon three summers ago now, in 2009...

OK, now that I have got your attention with the breathtaking view of Pemberley (AKA Lyme Park, Cheshire), I will take you there.  It was last summer and we had just driven down from the Lakes District and through busy Manchester (yes the same city where Beckham used to play for Manchester United) and found our way to Disley, Cheshire, just on the east side of England's seventh largest city.
At the gate, they gave us a CD to pop into the player in the car which gave an audio tour of the park, with music from P&P, as we drove in.  Very nice touch and I am sick to think that we left it in the rental car!!!
After a torrential downpour (unusual for England-usually a drizzle) during which we had lunch and browsed the gift shop, the sky finally cleared.  It was a Wednesday, and the interior of the house was not open, but I really just wanted to see the grounds and all the outdoor locations of the beloved miniseries as they used a different house for the interiors (I'll blog about that one another day).
The first view you get is not the one above, which is the back of the house, but this:
"I hope you are not displeased with Pemberley."
Excitement building? It was for me.  This drive, of course, is where the Gardiner's carriage was parked when Lizzy was trying to hurry them away.  Maybe this next shot will help to visualize.

Did your heart just skip a beat?  Notice that the sun came out just as we approached the courtyard and peeked through the arch.  Then we walked through and...
I swear I could actually see Mr. Darcy running down those steps in those boots (oh those boots) and buttoning his jacket.  I couldn't believe I was actually there.  Then we walked through to the rear of the building and my husband (The Squire as I affectionately call him) got the beautiful sunny shot which I use for my main blog photo.
"I confess I had no idea Pemberley was such a great estate."
 We had to hurry now, as all the rain delay meant that we were nearing closing time.  We saw the sunken gardens which are just to the left of the walk in the view above.
And then we walked past that glorious rear facade to the stairs...

"Do I ask too much to introduce my sister to you during your stay at Lambton?"

And then at the top of those steps, you turn back for the gorgeous view below.
"We must leave here at once.  Oh I wish we had never come."
We kept walking down this path and around the lake for the shot that everyone remembers as Lizzy's first view of Pemberley.
"I think one would be willing to put up with a good deal to be mistress of Pemberley."
And then the bell rang and we were hurried out of the grounds, back through the courtyard and onto the drive in front of the house again.  So off we drove to the Peaks district and to the next Pemberley (AKA Chatsworth).  But that is a blog for another day...



Related Posts with Thumbnails