Pride and Prejudice (1980) Mini-series – A Review

I have been blogging about Jane Austen here at Austenprose for over five years and I have reviewed many books and movies, yet I have held off writing about the one that really turned me into a Jane Austen disciple—the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice. When something is close to our hearts we want to keep it in a special place, so my personal impressions of Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel has remained my own. In this bicentenary year, I think it is time for me to share.

It first aired in five (55) minute episodes on the BBC in the UK in 1979, and on US television on Masterpiece Theatre between October 26 and November 23, 1980. I was a great fan of Masterpiece and period drama and remember being quite excited to watch the new series. I was not disappointed in the first episode—in fact I was mesmerized—and watched the episode again when it aired again that week on PBS. Considering that in 1980 disco music was all the rage and Magnum P.I. and Three’s Company were the most popular television shows, you might understand why this anglophile was entranced by a series set in Regency England with beautiful costumes, country houses, sharp dialogue and swoon worthy romance. I was totally hooked and started reading the novel for the first time while the series aired.

Image of the poster of Pride and Prejudice © 1980 Masterpiece Theatre Now, considering that many of you who are reading this review where not even born by 1980, you might not get the significance of the way in which our entertainment was doled out to us in the those early days. There was the television broadcast, and that was it. In fact there were no VCR’s yet, so you could not tape a video. I had to wait another 10 years before I saw the series again. Shocking, I know. But remember that the Internet would not be born until the mid-1990’s and the concept of streaming video was totally unknown.

On reflection, why did I like P&P 1980 so much when it originally aired, and does it still stand up to the litmus test for P&P adaptations?

Even though the BBC had produced radio and television adaptations of Pride and Prejudice in 1938, 1952, 1958 and 1967 this would be the first time that a US audience would see a television series of Jane Austen’s novel. Some of us had seen the 1940 MGM move of P&P staring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, but it was hardly faithful to the novel and was a two hour theatrical movie. Very little of Jane Austen’s original language had been used and let’s not even begin the conversation about the changes that were made. Now for the first time we could hear Austen’s words and see the plot unfold as she imagined it—well not word for word or scene by scene—but screenwriter Fay Weldon did adhere much more faithfully to Austen intensions than we had ever seen before, nor since. Here is a list of the cast and production team:


  • Elizabeth Bennet – Elizabeth Garvie
  • Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy – David Rintoul
  • Mr. Bennet – Moray Watson
  • Mrs. Bennet – Priscilla Morgan
  • Jane Bennet – Sabina Franklyn
  • Mary Bennet – Tessa Peake-Jones
  • Kitty Bennet – Clare Higgins
  • Lydia Bennet – Natalie Ogle
  • George Wickham – Peter Settelen
  • Mr. Collins – Malcolm Rennie
  • Charlotte Lucas – Irene Richard
  • Mr. Bingley – Osmund Bullock
  • Caroline Bingley – Marsha Fitzalan
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh – Judy Parfitt
  • Director – Cyril Coke

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Bennet and George Wickham © 2004 BBC Worldwide

I will spare you the rehash of the synopsis and cut to the case. This adaptation flies freely by the strength of the screenplay and the interpretation by the director of the actors. They act like Regency era ladies and gentlemen and in the manner that Jane Austen intended. Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet is perfection. She is just as clever and impertinent as her book persona. If she has any defect it is that she is too perfect, appearing too controlled at every moment and not quite as spirited and flawed as one would expect. Her hero Mr. Darcy, portrayed by David Rintoul, is flawed, but that is his strength. He is stiff as a wooden solider, and we hate him until we meet him again at Pemberley two thirds through the story. But, his portrayal is as Austen wrote the character: noble, proud, arrogant, overconfident and infuriating. His transition to an open and engaging personality is a gradual shift which grows as his affection for Elizabeth does. His transformation from an arrogant prig to an amiable gentleman suitor for our heroine is a great character arch well worth waiting for.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Elizabeth Bennet © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Every director wants to put their own stamp on a classic. I cannot condemn Cyril Coke for taking his chance. He does not swerve off the garden path too far. There are two moments that are his creations that are memorable for me. The first was when Darcy hands Elizabeth the “be not alarmed, Madame,” letter after the first proposal. Elizabeth and Darcy meet along a path at Rosings Park and he hands her his letter. She accepts it and takes a seat on a fallen tree and reads it. We hear David Rintoul’s beautiful velvet voice, and perfect diction, as a voiceover as she reads the letter. As he walks away from her, the camera pulls back and follows him. As he gets father away we see both Elizabeth and Darcy in the frame become smaller and smaller. It is quite affective in relaying his presence and driving home the fact that as she reads his explanation of his behavior, and she has her “until this moment I never knew myself” revelation, we are left with the feeling that he has walked out of her life, and now how will she get him back?

The second great moment comes when Elizabeth and her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are touring Pemberley. They think that Darcy is far away in Town. They are in a garden adjacent to the house and Elizabeth is admiring the facade and looks down to see Mr. Darcy’s dog appear around a corner of the building. His master soon follows and walks into the garden and is surprised to find Elizabeth at his home. They have an awkward meeting and Elizabeth is very uncomfortable. Now, Mr. Darcy does not have a dog in the original novel, but this addition of the well-trained spaniel, as proud and contained as his master, appearing as a foreshadowing to Elizabeth was brilliant.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: Mr Collins © 2004 BBC Worldwide

The secondary characters really shine in this production too. Malcolm Rennie as Mr. Collins is just priceless. He is tall and toady and just the perfect smarmy buffoon. Peter Settelen  as George Wickham is such a handsome, charming cad that we want to love him like Elizabeth is tempted to do. There is a scene where he and Lizzy are walking in the garden and all I can concentrate on are his canary breeches! Judy Parfitt gives us an imperious Lady Catherine de Bourgh that is quite younger than I had envisioned in the book, but still as imposing.

Image from Pride and Prejudice 1980: David Rintoul as Mr Darcy © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Since the 1980 P&P aired there has been one major miniseries filmed in 1995 and a movie in 2005. Everyone has their favorite and I have this pet theory why Janeites love one version and abhor another. Everyone seems to bond with the first version that they see, so for those who love the 2005 Keira Knightley version with pigs in the Longbourn kitchen and Mr. Darcy walking across a misty morning glade to find Elizabeth in her nightgown, or the 1995 version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy taking a bath or a dip in Pemberley pond, think long and hard about what Jane Austen wrote about and what she wanted us to experience with her characters, and watch the 1980 version again.

And, what may you ask is the P&P litmus test? Why the first proposal scene of course. If the screenwriter, director, and actors can portray the misguided, passionate tension of Mr. Darcy and the cool indigence of Miss Eliza Bennet in Austen’s masterful scene as well as it unfolds in the 1980 version, then there is hope for the rest of the production.

5 out of 5 StarsImage of the DVD cover of Pride and Prejudice 1980 © 2004 BBC Worldwide

Pride and Prejudice (1980)
BBC Worldwide (2004 re-issue)
DVD (226 minutes)
ASIN: B000244FDW

DVD cover and images courtesy of © 2004 BBC Worldwide; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

123 thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice (1980) Mini-series – A Review

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  1. This was my first P&P. While I love them all, because they all have their merits. This one is my favorite. I was a teenager in 1980. I don’t remember seeing it then. I don’t remember seeing it until the early 90’s when A&E ran it as “A&E in the Classroom”. The show came on in 45 minute segments once per week in the early hours of the am. I caught the first episode, got the VCR to tape it and made sure I was up to see the rest and taped that too. I love how this version stays close to the original.

    As far as P&P video goes my list is like this. 1. 1980’s BBC 2. 1995 BBC 3. 1940 Hollywood 4. 2005 Hollywood . I have all of these and the rest of this 1980s BBC JA series on DVD. The longer you take to tell this story, the better.


    1. So Daisimae, you seem to support my pet theory about Janeites bonding with the first P&P they see. :-) We are also in agreemnet regarding the order of preference on P&P adaptations. Thanks for your comments.


  2. I definitely need to see this version, I hear nothing but good things about it. I’ve seen the 1995, 1940 and 2005 versions and there are things I love about all of them but also things I’d change, such as some of the overacting in the 95, the lightning speed dialogue and wandering round outside half dressed for the 2005 and the costumes in the 1940 one (is it wrong that I quite like the story in that one even though it’s hardly faithful at all?!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are some Janeites who dislike this version, especially “wooden Darcy.” I think he plays the part as Austen wrote it.

      I love the Colin Firth version, now, but it had to grow on me. It is much more energized and sexed up. Not that that’s bad, it’s just a different interpretation of Austen’s story.

      I like the 1940 P&P too. I saw it as a young girl, but it did not “hit” me like the 1980 version did. There are some really funny scenes ie. the carriage race from Meryton to Longbourn by Mrs. Bennet. Greer Garson was lovely, but too old for the part.


    1. Thanks for your interesting review Bess. The costumes are beautiful and distracting. It is really difficult for viewers to watch this older version with it’s inferior production values (filmed in video tape and stage lighting), but one could over look all of that if they enjoyed the dialogue and acting. I did, but not so much you. That’s okay. “One half the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”


  3. Totally agree, loved it since I first saw it back in England and I couldn’t wait until it came out on video (that’s video not a DVD). The 1995 version for me has some character flaws, less than the 2005 which I didn’t like. My husband bless him bought me these last 2 versions knowing how much I love P&P


  4. I have never seen this version of P & P but now that you have piqued my curiosity, Laurel Ann, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.


    1. Jeffrey,

      I too, recommend “The Jane Austen Collection” DVD’s. It contains ALL of her novels that were adaptated for TV in the ’70’s and ’80’s, and they are all good, in my opinion. It is also available at Here’s a link:

      You won’t be sorry!


      1. This is the DVD collection I want to get but I don’t think they sell it in the UK. I’ll have to keep a look out on eBay.


  5. There’s such a contrast between the way Darcy’s letter is filmed in the 1980 version and the 1995 version, with the former focusing on the words of the letter, and the latter showing us flashbacks to dramatize the scenes he describes in the letter. I really like what you say about the way the 1980 version shows Darcy walking out of Elizabeth’s life. It’s more subtle than the later adaptation.


    1. Interesting that you should mention the difference in the letter scene in the 1980 and 1995 versions Sarah. Even though the letter is Darcy’s voice, I have always focused on Elizabeth’s reaction to his explanations. The 1980 version is about Elizabeth, while the 1995 is about Darcy, as we see all the scenes he describes in the letter in a montage. And the added stuff like he and Wickham at college etc. I prefer Austen challenging us to imagine those scenes. I didn’t think it was necessary to show them. Thanks for your insights.


  6. Love this review! We watched this one week in school in 9th grade and it’s what brought me to Jane Austen in the first place too. I still come back to it.


  7. Laurel Ann,
    The Rintoul/Garvie version was the first one I saw as well and, ohhh, I *loved* it! We read P&P in English lit and, then, the teacher treated us to this film on video tape in little increments every day for a week. I couldn’t wait for class! I bought my own VHS copy as soon as I could and, later, got another on DVD… My favorite moment was seeing the way Darcy’s smile transformed his face when he was happy and gazing at Elizabeth near the end. The imposing, very serious David Rintoul played it perfectly, in my opinion — he truly looked like a different man. :)
    Thanks so much for posting about this one!!


  8. My 2008 review at amazon said:
    “This version is “okay.” Just okay. It is from 1980 and the interior lighting is overly harsh and the exteriors are fine but come as a shock. Mr Darcy (David Rintoul) is icy, prideful, aloof — so totally believable — but Elizabeth Garvey as Elizabeth Bennet was somewhat lacking, as she did not show any charisma or anything that would make her a stand out to the likes of a Mr. Darcy. (I almost agree with Miss Bingley’s opinions of this Elizabeth, “For my part, I confess I could never see any beauty in her….”)

    Some of the dialogue was played with, having other characters say the words. Usually with adaptations, I don’t mind this if it serves for flow or continuity, but it seemed to serve no purpose. I enjoy anything P&P and was glad to see this version, but,it won’t be one I watch over and over again. I’d rent it unless you are like me, and just have to have your own copy regardless.”
    I think age has softened me to this film and accepting, forgiving and understanding of the low quality film. I don’t mind it so much to listen to as background and yet, it’s not my first pick to watch when I need my Austen fix. But I still stand by my previous opinions of Rintoul– a stand out! Spot on Darcy. Garvie as Elizabeth? Meh. You nailed it Laurel Ann. Too controlled for my idea of Lizzy Bennet.


    1. Now you have had the opposite reaction than I anticipated Christina. I expected you to be in the “wooden Darcy” camp – but you disliked Elizabeth. The film quality is disappointing and yes, Weldon did put some of Austen’s lines into the wrong mouths. I found myself grimacing at that when I viewed it again recently. Only Janeites would catch that, but it was off-putting. One day there will be an Elizabeth conceitedly independent enough for you!


      1. I love how starchey he is! Total snob. Exactly how I picture Austen’s Darcy. I love the 1995 Lizzy. If only I could cut n paste characters…


  9. I just can’t make myself watch this version. You offer such a nice review, I may have to give it a try. I think it will be hard to get through though, for me, Colin Firth just does Darcy so well.

    Since I do not have a blog, here is my entry for the Pride and Prejudice Bicentennial Challenge.

    This month I completed my 8th selection. ( My goal is (-12, so I’m almost there.) I chose to read Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey (ebook version). Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

    Kelsey Edmundson is a geek and proud of it. She makes no secret of her love for TV, movies, and, most especially, books. After a bad breakup, she retreats into her favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, wishing she had some of the wit and spirit of Elizabeth Bennett.

    One night at a party Kelsey meets handsome Australian bartender Mark Barnes. From then on, she always seems to run into him when she least expects it. No matter how Kelsey tries, she always seems to say the wrong thing.

    After a particularly gaffe-filled evening around Mark, Kelsey is in desperate need of inspiration from Jane Austen. She falls asleep reading Darcy’s letter to Lizzy and awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar place that looks and sounds suspiciously like her favorite book. Has she somehow been transported into Pride and Prejudice, or is it just a dream?

    As Kelsey tries to discover what’s happening to her, she must also discover her own heart. Is Mark Barnes destined to be her Mr. Darcy? In the end, she must decide whether attempting to become Elizabeth is worth the risk or if being Kelsey Edmundson is enough.

    I gave it 4 stars. A very fun, refreshing read. Who wouldn’t want to jump right in to Pride and Prejudice?!


    1. Hi Felicia, there are flaws in this production, but I still think it is the truest to Austen’s intentions. The Firth/Darcy is mesmerizing, but I find that the screenplay shifted the emphasis by building up his part. It is just one interpretation and I still enjoy watching it. I am all about Elizabeth in P&P, even though Darcy has become the pinnacle of the romantic literary hero. It’s all Darcy, Darcy, Darcy! I can’t fight the tide.


  10. I agree with just about everything you wrote, Laurel Ann, and it’s nice to see someone who enjoyed/still enjoys it as much as I do! It, too, was my introduction to Jane Austen, and I was absolutely thrilled when VCR’s were invented. DVD’s are even better of course, and I just watched it again last week. It has held up for me, in spite of the videotape-quality of the picture.

    I completely agree about David Rintoul (*sigh*), but I disagree about Elizabeth Garvie; I think she’s wonderful! The only jarring note in this production, as far as I am concerned, is Elizabeth’s “marathon” from Lambton to Pemberley. It makes no sense. (Similar to the Bath “marathon” in the latest “Persuasion.”) I can overlook it, however, because everything else is so good.

    I also think that Michael Rennie as Mr. Collins is the closest to that Jane Austen character of any of the movies. I didn’t quite agree about your use of the word “Smarmy;” I think that the actors in the OTHER movie adaptations were definitely smarmy — “oily” and rather disgusting is what it connotes to me — but I looked up the definition online, and it fits the character, as you’ve said. But for me, Michael Rennie is definitely Jane Austen’s Mr. Collins! In fact, I think all of the actors and actresses were quite wonderful in their roles.

    I loved Lady Catherine: so superior, and so haughty! “If I had ever learnt, I should have been a true proficient.” One of my favorite lines in all of Jane Austen, and for me, it BELONGS to Judy Parfitt!

    This is too long already, and I want to say more, but I won’t. Thank you for your wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I loved Elizabeth Garvie in this production and the whole series overall-but David Rintoul, who was an excellent Darcy, didn’t quite light the litmus for me. It’s the 1995 version that does it for me on all counts – though I’d love them now to do a newer version. There simply aren’t enough!


    1. Not sure quite what I meant by lighting the litmus, more like light my fire but I think you get the picture … : )


  12. I agree with your reasoning for the favourite adaptation as long as it is an appealing Darcy when you see it, for me in the 90’s it was Colin Firth’s Darcy if I had seen the 80’s version I would possibly not have had the same love affair as I would have viewed him as too old for my age at the time, I think there are many variables that make a person love one more passionately than another despite the story being the same


  13. I fit your theory beautifully, Laurel Ann, because this was my first adaptation and I love it. I was a teenager when it came out and I wanted to be Elizabeth. I’ve watched it since and it seems a bit “stagey” to me in places now (ie looks like a filmed stage play) but that’s the way programmes were made at the time. I love Mrs Bennet, she’s just the sort of silly, fussy woman I imagine from the book, but also fiercely loyal to her daughters. And I love this Mr Collins. He’s a buffoon but not repugnant, so I can more easily imagine Charlotte marrying him. I haven’t watched this adaptation for a while but I seem to remember a hilarious line about Mr Collins’s hat, something about it being a flotation device. I must watch it again! I thought all the actors were good, but I think Penelope Keith was robbed because she would have made a brilliant Lady Catherine.
    (By the way, did you get my emails about meeting up in the UK?)


  14. Someone may have mentioned this already, but this version is available to stream on Amazon Prime for free.


  15. I love this version of P&P and it was the first one I saw too, but it is not my favorite of the movies though it is second. I remember scrambling so I could see all of it and not miss an episode because I wasn’t sure if they would re-air it later. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  16. i agree with your premise about bonding. i’d heard so much praise about the 1995 version and how mind-blowing colin firth was in it that i bought a copy, prepared to shove aside my love for the 2005 version which i saw first. now i still adore colin firth, but this 1995 version left so much to be desired in my book that even he couldn’t sway my vote for best film adaptation. ( i may still need watch him bathe a few times, just to make sure).


  17. This really is my favourite version of P & P, and yes, it was the first one I saw. The 2005 version I cannot appreciate because of details with which I disagree. The 1995 film is excellent, but Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul are the best Lizzie and Darcy ever. Thanks for the excellent review.


  18. Laurel Ann, wonderful review, I agree with you completely! The 1980’s version is my favourite, it’s their voices I hear when I read the book, and yes, it was my first. While I am old enough to have watched it when it was first aired, I didn’t actually see it until several years later when my mum bought the video. I fell in love with it and immediately asked for the book. I’m afraid the other’s don’t come close for me, though I love the 1940’s one because it is a beautiful film inspired by the novel. For me they both have the feeling of the book which is absent in later adaptations and the more theatrical style of the 80’s version doesn’t put me off at all, perhaps because I grew up watching that style. I intend to review the 1980’s one too at some point but I will post this month’s reviews later.
    I agree with cathyallen too, the one low point really is the run to Pemberley, I would love to know why they did that. I think the difference for me with the 1995 one is, although they both added a few humorous points, a few odd lines etc, the 1980’s additions fit with the style of the book whereas the 1995 scenes were meant purely to attract a 90’s audience.
    I started to get the DVD’s when they finally came out and got a lovely surprise, the BBC video’s that were issued and my mum had bought back in the late 80’s had been cut, quite a bit. The 1980’s version I knew word for word but there were whole sections of dialogue I hadn’t seen before and I fell in love all over again.
    Whilst I mostly agree with your theory about it being the first one we bond with, that certainly hasn’t held true for all of the other books, so do you think it is because it’s P&P or because it was my introduction to Jane Austen?


  19. I do agree with your theory on the first-seen version being a sentimental favorite. For a long time, to me that was the 1940 film starring Garson and Olivier. The costumes are dreadful, and it’s full of illogical ideas, like Maureen O’Sullivan being Greer Garson’s OLDER sister, and Lady Catherine only pretending to disparage a match between Darcy and Elizabeth, but I absolutely love Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet, and I’ll always admire Greer Garson’s ability to play just about any age character with merely a small change in her posture and an extra twinkle in her eye.

    The 1980 mini-series — oh, dear. In my memory it was wonderful, and of all versions its theme music is my favorite. After viewing it again on YouTube (do a search on “Pride and Prejudice 1980” within the application, and it will pop up), however, I can’t give it much praise except for the theme music and the EXCELLENT costumes. As another commenter said, there is no emotion in most of the performances — Mr. Bennet comes across as stern to the point of being emotionally abusive, not witty and sarcastic — although Judy Parfitt owns the role of Lady Catherine, in my estimation. She plays her as a spoiled rotten beauty, used to getting her own way entirely, whom nobody has dared to tell off… until Elizabeth Bennet, and by then it’s too late to do her any good.

    My current favorite is the 1995 version, even though the costumes give Elizabeth much too much cleavage and there are other anachronisms like some of the dances that were so out of date they would probably have made Jane Austen roll her eyes. I don’t care. I play the DVD when I feel blue, and it cheers me up. Things in the story work out for the best (mostly), it’s very well acted, by charismatic people, and it takes me out of myself for awhile. That’s enough for me.


  20. I remember watching this series very well (the only thing I’d seen before was the MGM film and I never quite got over the crinolines!)

    I totally agree re the letter delivery scene and how we could see Mr Darcy walking away into the distance getting furhter and further away from Elizabeth, and my thoughts on Rintoul’s performance are the same as yours, Laurel Ann. I didn’t take to him at all until his vulnerable appearance at Pemberley, but I’ve only just now realised from reading your review that that is precisely what should have happened!

    I love both the 95 series (who wouldn’t?) and the 2005 film for different reasons, but if I want to see the most faithful adaptation to the book, this is the DVD I pick up! And I can remember back in the mid-eighties finally tracking down a way to buy the series on VHS video (boxed set). It was ludicrously expensive and was only available on order from the BBC shop, but oh how happy I was to get it!

    Really loved reading this review, thank you!



  21. I have not had a chance to rewatch P&P 1980 yet, so my 5th review for the challenge will be “Lost in Austen” which I finally managed to see.

    In “Lost in Austen,” Austen fan Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) finds herself switching places with Elizabeth Bennett and living the story of P&P. Unlike many of our fictional time-travelers, Amanda has actually picked up some of the social conventions of the time, so the story does not focus much attention on her adjusting to the time, but rather on her trying to make the events of the story come about.

    This is where “Lost in Austen” fails. The premise is that Amanda’s presence changes the events of the story, but in fact she hasn’t actually landed in P&P. Several characters are decidedly different, Lydia in particular is practically subdued and events unfold differently without any interference from Amanda. She does cause some havoc. Amanda knows she’s supposed to curtsey, but doesn’t exactly understand how, fascinating Bingley with her inadvertent show of cleavage. This and her subsequent inappropriate behavior at first repulses and then mysteriously attracts Darcy.

    I thought I would end up not liking this, but I did. It’s obviously meant to be irreverent and fun, a wish-fulfillment fantasy for Team Darcy. Elliot Cowan does an excellent job playing Colin Firth. There is an amusing scene where he submerges himself in the reflecting pool for Amanda.

    My favorite part, though, has to be Amanda telling Mr. Bennet to stop hiding in the library, get off his lazy bottom and be a parent! That was my wish-fulfillment fantasy! :-)

    If an Austen purist like me enjoyed this, I’m quite sure other Austen fans will too.


  22. Personally, I’m a fan of the five adaptations of “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” I have seen, including the recent television spoof, “LOST IN AUSTEN”. But all five adaptations had their own flaws.

    I never bought this belief that the 1980 miniseries was the most faithful adaptation. I noticed certain differences, including the Netherfield Ball sequence, which proved to be rather disappointing; and the circumstances surrounding Elizabeth’s visit to the Collinses. But despite any flaws it may possess, I still enjoyed the miniseries very much.

    [“Elliot Cowan does an excellent job playing Colin Firth.”]

    I thought Elliot Cowan went beyond Colin Firth’s interpretation. To me, he made his own stamp on the Mr. Darcy character.


  23. Great review! I’ve never watched the 1980 version and although I may find it lacking in the romance we experience in the Kiera Knighley movie and the Colin Firth mini series, I think it will be a good look at how Ms Austen intended her audience to view the book.

    My review of ‘Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict’ by Laurie Viera Rigler and my last few months reviews of ‘Lost in Austen’ (2008 movie), ‘The Three Colonels’ by Jack Caldwell, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (BBC miniseries 1995), and ‘The Lizzy Bennet Diaries’ (online mini series).


  24. Thanks for the review I have never watched this version but am going to watch it now, I seem to not fall in the category of what you watch first. I watched the 2005 first and although i enjoyed it i was very disappointed but didn’t know any other version existed. I then watched 1995 and loved it and it is my favorite. My mission is to watch the 1980 and 1940 and see if my favorite changes again, I will let you know.

    Here are my two reviews for this month


    1. Hi Tamara, I am not surprised that you have not watched it yet. Since this is an older version and not a visually stunning as the 1995 and 2005 versions, it is not as popular. But I think that all true Janeites should give it a try. It is close to 5 hours of our Jane after all, and much of her direct language is used. I think we are due for another adaptation.


  25. This is the third version I saw – I watched th 1995 version first, then 2005, and then 1980. I really like Rintoul’s depiction of cold, arrogant Darcy, and Garvie is perfect as Lizzy, very bright and outgoing. I think Ehle’s version of Lizzy is too snobby, judgmental, and arrogant – even hateful in her refusal of Darcy at Hunsford. I think Keira Knightley rattled off her lines like a machine gun!


  26. This was and still is my favorite for all of the reasons you outlined (although it wasn’t the first version I saw). As much as I enjoyed the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version, this one is still the most satisfying for me (the Keira Knightly/Matthew McFadden (sp?) version was a pretty movie, just not P & P to me). David Rintoul is my favorite Darcy of all time, and Mr Collins is played to perfection by Malcolm Rennie. I watch this one at least once a year. Thanks, Sharon!


  27. Hi Laurel Ann
    I hope you do not mind me posting again, I watched the 1980 last night! I could not wait i had to have my share of the conversation. Finished watching it at gone three this morning. I had so much to say I’ve put it in a post. I am in agreement with much you said. Finally the conclusion, it now my favorite! So i seem to be working backwards 2005 version was the first I watched until I saw 1995 which became my favorite and now this has replaced the 1995 version as my fav! Although I doubt the 1940 will take over when I watch it from what people have said.


  28. This is my SECOND favorite version of P&P. None of the film versions stands up to any litmus test in my mind because they stray too far from the book in both context and spirit. The 1980 P&P, while truest to the text of the story, is to me a bit lacking in capturing the spirit of the story. As you said, Garvie is too perfect as Elizabeth. Elizabeth is endearingly imperfect. And I think Rintoul is a bit too stiff as the stiff Mr. Darcy. My preference is for the 1995 miniseries, which, while it takes liberties with the text, is to my mind the version truest to the spirit of P&P. It is by far the funniest version and the one that to my mind evokes emotion from the reader and created for me, an emotional attachment that its predecessor did not.


  29. I don’t know if I buy your theory about the first version you see being your favorite. My first P&P adaptation was P&P40 and, while I really do like it, it’s not my favorite. P&P80 is my absolute favorite P&P adaptation. Here is my own take on this adaptation: While I really do like Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in the lead roles, it’s the secondary characters that really make this version shine. Judy Parfitt is stellar. Priscilla Morgan shows us glimpses of the lovely Miss Gardiner who captivated a young Mr. Bennet. Aunt and Uncle Gardiner are also excellent. They can truly be mistaken for “people of fashion.” P&P95’s Gardiners are frumps and P&P05’s look like farmers. But P&P80’s Gardiners are outstanding. Peter Settelen is a wonderful Wickham. And, given how he’s behaved in real life (look it up — the information is out there), I’m thinking he was born to play this character. I have never liked Mr. Bennet. I think he is a very toxic character, and far from the benign, witty man other adaptations give us. And Moray Watson is the Mr. Bennet I see when I read the book. And I cannot forget Osmund Bullock as Charles Bingley. Other Bingleys are vapid air-heads. This is the only Bingley I can see as Darcy’s best friend. The others? As we say in New York, fuhgeddaboutit.

    I even like P&P05 better than P&P95. Why? For the simple reason that P&P95 is referred to as “the Colin Firth version.” P&P was written mostly from Elizabeth’s POV, and the fact that Andrew Davies, et al., told the audience certain things before Elizabeth knew them is, in my not-so-humble opinion, absolutely wrong. And I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loathe the pond scene. It was the first thing I saw when I turned on P&P95, and I turned it off within seconds. I refused to watch it for 2+ years. And here is my review of P&P95: I truly believe that I make my case coherently and logically.

    I like P&P05 because I think that Keira Knightley showed us the young, playful side of Elizabeth Bennet. Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth was smug and she sneered a lot. I liked Tom Hollander as Collins (he doesn’t look the part, but he does a great job with it), and I understand why some of the other changes were made, and they don’t bother me. Here are my thoughts on P&P05:

    P&P80 has been my favorite P&P adaptation for 30+ years. Maybe some day another adaptation will come along and push it out of first place. But none of the others have managed to do that…yet.. Netflix has it available for streaming, so I can watch it whenever I want even without rummaging for my DVDs.

    As an aside, I really do like the 1940 version. I think that Greer Garson really gets the character. She does “arch” and “sweet’ better than anyone else. Maureen O’Sullivan is a terrific Jane. And Frieda Inescort is a fantabulous Caroline. I even like the modern versions like BJD, P&P:A Latter-Day Comedy, B&P and, of course, The LBD.

    Julie P.


  30. ***Marathon rant-comment! :) ***

    Very interesting reviews and sentiments! Loved reading them all. Just made me want to re-watch this version again and see if my feelings have changed. Being, as I am, a member of the spoilt, younger 90’s generation… Must make an effort to re-evaluate!

    I suppse the sensation could be likened to the very first time we as children/toddlers first hear a composition by, say, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, Schubert, Chopin/what-have-you (you know, composers whose work everyone and their mother have an opinion on, often conflicting ones, when hearing it performed by different musicians and artists) – often times, that very first hearing will set the tone for how we like the piece to be played. We become prejudiced to all over variations. It will become our standard – the ‘original’ way (nonsense, I know). Anything else that deviates too far from that will feel strange to us, the pace might make us uneasy, the feelings aren’t conveyed the same way etc. When in fact, Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 is just as exquisite as Rostropovich’s only in its own way – even though you heard the latter’s version first and the former’s somehow feels ‘off’ the first couple of times you hear it. But given a chance, you’ll notice the good in some of the other performances out there – over time.

    My first P&P adaptation was the 1995 version. It was sweet, surprisingly loyal to the book and just the delightful amount of satirical caricature and familiarity about the characters that the actors/entire crew managed to get through (not to mention the settings, they got those spot on!). I’d never felt that Austen’s P&P took itself too seriously. And voilà; neither did the 1995 BBC production! Having said all of the above, it is precisely why I’m one of those who most passionately cannot stand the 2005 one. Not one thing clicked – it was pure, unadulterated dislike and frustration. They missed the essence of Jane Austens ‘voice’ (for me anyway). Huffing, puffing, sighing and moaning my way through it. Too serious, far too many tantrums and door slamming, too hacked, dialogue delivered as if they had Shakespearean pretentions of the most ill-conceived sort reserved for notoriously overacted tragedies, too many random scenes added in to vamp it up for what they must have thought an illiterate generation of teens with an attention span of 0 who probably never had and never would read the actual book…(oh, this part of the rant gan go on…and on… and on! stepping on toes all the way *apologetic*). Even the Garson/Olivier wartime-budget-piece from 1940 sits better for some reason; think it was by the grace of the principal actors, because everything else was just hilariously off – clothes/props, plot, added characters, era, accents… – one unholy hodgepodge, but at least they got the spirit of the story right! :)

    It’s comparable to the feelings stirred by the numerous adaptations of another well-loved classic; C Brontë’s Jane Eyre where everyone’s got their ‘definitive version’. If we’re to look at the mini-series made of it, my first of that bunch was the 2006-production with Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson; it had been sexed up, simplified, indignities suffered before and after Thornfield conveniently smothed away, some characters rearranged etc. But it was entertaining, engaging, rather ‘cosy’ and the scenery+environments (shot at Haddon Hall?) were just darkly romantic enough. Ergo; I could live with it and felt like I’d be happy to re-visit that version anytime I wanted a J E-marathon. Then I stumbled across the 1973 and 1983 adaptations. Both almost exactly verbatim in their loyalty to the book! The only bits and bobs cut out or compressed were those that ‘could be spared’ due to time constrictions and budget. They too, like P&P of the 80’s had been taped on that horrid BBC video ( =poor image, light and sound quality, 95% shot indoors). It was a bit of a shock to the system, I’m ashamed to say it, but the initial shock was purely cosmetical; e.g. the male leads… esp. the ’73-one! Cringe, shiver and gasp! Though Dalton’s Rochester of ’83 did eventually grow on me. After having sat through them though, with a mind open to the craft, enterpretation and details – the funky, lacklustre mists melted away. Just had to reset my mind to accept a different sort of presentation – one more akin to theatre angles, acting and production, rather those of motion picture/modern BBC-big-budget-show-offs. Actors more prone to rapping out lines with a bearing more natural on stage rather than on screen. Once that was done – there was no contest! Sure, none of the razzamatazz, studied scores, ambient sounds and effects, swooping cameras, beautiful lighting, breath taking nature etc – all very basic – but still, they managed to be the most ‘acurate’ versions hitherto made. Today, the murky, ‘cheap’ and simple 1983-version is my ‘definitive’ go-to, but still – just because I saw it first, and for all the feel-good scenery – the 2006 clings on and sort of shares the space. Logically, I don’t agree with much of it, but it’s still up there…

    **Oh Lord… just looked up and saw a massive wall of text. So sorry!


    1. I agree with you. I have a feeling that I saw 1940s P&P first and that is partly why I’m sneakingly fond of it but its so far from the story (although retains the spirit) of P&P that I don’t think that one could remain anybody’s favourite version. I would also agree that the 2005 version is much less fondly drawn and more cinematic. It’s a shame actually, as once I got over the shock of the changes and the speed-talking there were a lot of good things about it, including my favourite Mrs Bennet; I thought Brenda Blethyn was fantastic as Mrs B.

      You raise an interesting point re. Jane Eyre, I think I’ve seen the Welles version, the Ruth one that you mention and a more recent one who has a very tall lady cast as Jane. Of these, the Ruth Wilson one was my favourite, but I haven’t yet tried the 70s/80s versions. It sounds like I need to do this with both my Austen and Jane Eyre.


      1. Brenda Blethyn’s Mrs. Bennet is slightly more restrained than the likes of the ’95 and ’40 (ah the hysterics :) ), but a good one I def. agree. Bearing in mind that script… Couldn’t warm up to Knightley’s Lizzy though. And the bond between the members of the Bennet family was non-existent. Very cold version…

        Would definitely recommend an odyssey through the older mini-series’ versions :) Fairly rewarding. Be warned though; they might not sit comfortably the first (couple of) time(s) if you’re not used to that particular style. Just don’t give up! Working my way through P&P ~1980 now, and it’s a task at times. Struggling with some of the portrayals. This Lizzy… hm… needs time.

        Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre of 2011 (Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender) was beautifully done as far as cinematography/art direction goes – perhaps even the most striking of them all. As far as the entire movie, interpretation and story goes though; meh… not quite. Then again, it is harder to cram these types of stories into a reasonably timed movie – which is perhaps why mini-series often do better as they allow for time and space to work the material justly. Especially when you’ve got hoards/gaggles of women (perhaps a man or two?) who almost know every line by heart and suffer great fits whenever a line or two is axed or changed, never mind entire chapters and storylines.


  31. “And I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loathe the pond scene.” Yay, Julie P. I thought I was the only one!


    1. You are definitely not alone in hating the pond scene!

      And it’s great to see so many people like the 1980 version. :D


  32. Pingback: Peter J Verdil
  33. I fit right into your supposition LaurelAnn. My first version was 1995 and I fell in love with Lizzy and Darcy. I watched the 1980 version and couldn’t help asking WHAT would Elizabeth see in that Mr. Darcy? He actually kind of frightened me! His turnaround for Lizzy is not enough for me. And the 2005 movie is a nice movie if yiu don’t think of it as P&P.


  34. *OT*
    While on the subject of Austen-movies; has anybody seen a good version of Mansfield Park they could recommend?

    I’ve seen two – ’99 + ’07 – and neither have been any good. Yes that is very subjective. :) But Fanny Price is always portrayed as this overly active type – running and skipping everywhere (Fanny skip-a-doodling? Really?). Then the scripts take far too much artistic freedom with the original material – perhaps because it’s one of Austen’s most sedate novels and it’s tempting to vamp it up? Anyway, if anybody knows of a version they’ve found close to the sentiments of the book – please share!


    1. The version the BBC made of Mansfield Park in the 1980’s, while certainly not perfect, is much closer to the book than the later versions.

      It stars Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny and it’s definitely available on DVD.


  35. My review for Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange
    Kindle edition 2011– Robert Hale Limited ISBN – 978-7090 9296 – 4

    I thought this book which is my sixth review for the Jane Austen Challenge was an extremely good read. The way Amanda Grange looks at aspects of Pride and Prejudice and nudges me the reader to think more deeply about Mr Darcy and the other characters is very clever.
    For example we know from Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice that Jane Bennet is staying at Netherfield Park with the Bingleys and Darcy because she develops a cold while riding to visit the Bingley sister’s and it starts to rain.
    Jane takes to her bed and she could be feeling lonely away from home. Darcy realises the value of sisterly affection displayed when Elizabeth comes across from Longbourn to visit her sister and sits with her .We also see how good Charles Bingley is as host looking after the comfort of Jane and her sister. By contrast the coldness and spitefulness displayed towards Jane, Elizabeth and sadly towards each other by the sisters, Caroline Bingley and Mrs Hurst means that they do not appear to want to go out of the way to help anyone not even a sister. Charles Bingley begins to shine and come out of Darcy’s shadow and for me emerge as an excellent, pleasant and caring host at whose house, guests would like to stay.
    I really liked the way Amanda Grange extends the diary to cover the time before the action begins in the novel Pride and Prejudice so the reader gets the back story to Georgiana going to Ramsgate and also the reader gets to enjoy the time after the two couples have got married.
    We see the story of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s viewpoint as Amanda Grange adds to the story with asides from Darcy and with Darcy’s thought processes and I liked that.
    While Darcy is visiting his aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Kent , we begin to see the gradual change in Darcy’s thought processes as at first he recognises how shy and uneasy he feels in the company of strangers and he reacts to Elizabeth’s explanation to Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam when all three of them are at the piano which Elizabeth has been playing. They talk of Darcy’s behaviour at the Meryton assembly. Did I really come across like that I can hear him thinking as he thinks about the first ball when he refuses to dance with Elizabeth even when Bingley offers to introduce them to each other.
    “In her (Elizabeth’s) eyes, my refusal to dance became ridiculous, and I saw it so myself, for the first time. To stride about in all my pride, instead of enjoying myself as any well-regulated man would have done. Absurd! I would not ordinarily have tolerated any such teasing, and yet there was something in her manner that removed any sting, and instead made it a cause for laughter.”
    I enjoyed reading about Colonel Fitzwilliam and Darcy pondering the importance of coming from good ancestry and being able to trace the family tree back to find an impeccable pedigree as opposed to trying to get on with people and help them feel at ease. Gradually Darcy really begins to work out what is really important to him.
    It was amusing to me to read about Darcy trying to immerse himself in the balls held by various families so he can get over Elizabeth and meet a girl from a “good” family. The girls from these respectable families seem to be mega boring compared with Elizabeth whom he still seems to think about frequently despite working so hard to be with other people. I laughed aloud at poor Darcy struggling with making polite conversation and getting little help from his various dancing partners.

    I think the only bit I found myself disliking was the format of the book on my Kindle with loads of blank pages in my edition of the book. This meant of course I was turning pages over at a great rate to find the next month in the diary. A minor distraction and maybe I would have liked some illustrations or something to liven up these dull pages but this would have put up the cost of publication.


  36. This month, I reviewed the 2008 movie Lost in Austen for the P&P Challenge:

    I think you’re right about the sentimental connection to the first one you see. I first saw the 1995 version with my mother, and I’ve loved it ever since. I didn’t really like the 1980 version when I first saw it, but it grows on me a little more every time, I think. Also, your litmus test is completely right! Everything pretty much follows suit with the first proposal.


  37. I saw the 1995 version of P&P as a child and years later I saw the 1980 version. I love them both! The 1980 version is charming. I love Elizabeth and Darcy’s portrayals. Mr. Collins matches the description in the book perfectly. There are some odd aspects about the movie — like Lizzy walking to Netherfield through the rain to visit Jane. Still, this is a great adaptation. I must admit that it and the 1995 version are the only adaptations of P&P that I like.


  38. Thanks for fixing the sign in Laurel Ann!,

    Here are my May reviews:

    Lost In Austen

    I am automatically less critical of something that sets out to be an alternate version, rather than a faithful adaptation because it is essentially not pretending to be something it really isn’t. I find it ironic then that Lost in Austen is, at least as far as the characters are concerned, a far better adaptation than the most recent versions of Pride and Prejudice.

    Slight spoilers though I won’t be too specific… It has a very well chosen cast who to my mind, portray the characters beautifully, I could almost wish they would reprise them in the next BBC Adaptation. Even Elizabeth, who takes a very different part, is believable, though I do doubt anyone from that era would adapt quite so easily to ours… I much preferred her in either guise to both Keira Knightly and Jennifer Erles.

    The main character, Amanda, is much more what I would have expected the heroine from Austenland to be, she’s modern, with modern manners but trying her best to fit in amongst a story she really loves… whilst completely destroying it. It’s funny, light hearted and enjoyable all the way through even if it does get a bit silly towards the end.

    I liked the twist with Wickham’s character but not what it did for Georgiana’s, and I did not like the plot between Mr Collin’s and Jane, including poor Charlotte’s ultimate fate. But that’s really the worst I can say of it, even the infamous dunking scene was funny, and far more appropriately done in this version than the one it was taken from. It reminded me of the Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

    Overall, very enjoyable and I would recommend it unless you really don’t like to see your classics deliberately messed with.

    Book review: Fault or Virtue by April Karber


  39. Thr 1940 version was the first I saw on TV when I was about 12 it inspired me to read the book. I don’t remember seeing the 1980 version when it oiriginally aired even though I was a huge Masterpiece Theater fan at the time. I found the 1980 version on you tube a few months ago and have since watched it numerous times. After seeing the 1995 version this one is visually well blah lighting etc but of course that was typical of the time. The two scenes mentioned Eliza seeing Darcy dog at Pemberly and the scence after Darcy gives her the letter are wonderful.
    However the scene where Eliza runs to Pemberley just about ruins it for me.
    Also when LCdB comes to Longbourn the scene is played indoors instead of in the prettyish kind of wilderness . Also the Nethedrfield ball scene which I always felt was pivotal was so underplayed. And talk about too much bosom Eliz gown was way too lowcut in this scene as were some of those worn by M Bingley. Also near the end the servant brings Elizd a note from Darcy to meet him again not sure why that change was made. Some of what I find lacking in the performances are probably due in large part to the directing.


  40. I have thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed Laurel Ann’s wonderful review and all the insightful comments offered above and agree with so many of you! It inspired me to re-watched this 1980 edition and I enjoyed it so much more! I do agree that Garvie is the very best Elizabeth, that Rintoul portrays probably the most accurate Darcy, though I do prefer Colin Firth, and I much prefer this Mrs. Bennet to the 1995 edition! Mr. Bennett was just a bit too harsh for my taste, however. The way some of the words/statements came from the wrong people spoiled it for me, and I also really didn’t care for the scene of running to Pemberley about the Lydia disaster nor the note and the way they did the ending. After Laurels’ delightful comments on the scene of Elizabeth reading Darcy’s letter as he walks away… and out of her life, I was impressed with its artistic and powerful effect!

    My reading challenge for this month was, “Dear Mr. Darcy” by Amanda Grange… The retelling of “P&P” in letters. I found it interesting to enjoy the story from this perspective, reading Darcy’s interchanges with his cousins, learning more about the Binglys, and the addition of the Sotherton family as intimate friends of the Bennett girls. It added a new dimension to the story and insight into the characters, and I feel Amanda Grange does a wonderful job!


  41. My introduction to Jane Austen was through this version on Masterpiece Theater in 1980 as well, and I have long suspected that we prefer the first version we see; so your bonding theory makes total sense to me. I absolutely loved Elizabeth Garvey in this role. (Of course, I thought David Rintoul was fantastic, too!) I’ve never cared for the 1995 version, although that Elizabeth sings beautifully, better, I suppose, than Elizabeth Garvey did. I’ve never even watched the whole thing through. I have a friend who was born after 1980 who couldn’t stand the BBC version–didn’t care for Elizabeth Garvey–and loved the 1995 version. In the last few weeks I’ve taken up writing a P&P spinoff; so I’m reading the book over again. My hat is off to you for defending the BBC version despite your self-acknowledged bias toward it. I might pluck up the nerve to follow your example!


  42. I only saw this version this year, three months ago, in fact. I always try to compare any P&P movie/tv series/re-do against the book rather than against each other, since that is the template each production should go by. I can always find something to like about anything P&P related, save the ones too far off the scale to even be labeled P&P (think the 1940 Olivier/Garson movie, or P&P and Vampires). That said, I love David Rintoul’s Mr. Darcy. He was so perfectly stoic and seemingly arrogant and uncomfortable – I thought him a terrific representation of Austen’s character. I think the 1995 A&E version of P&P made me love Colin Firth, but the 1980 BBC miniseries made me love Mr. Darcy.

    Here’s my May review for the P&P Bicentenary Challenge – His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley –


    1. ” I think the 1995 A&E version of P&P made me love Colin Firth, but the 1980 BBC miniseries made me love Mr. Darcy.”

      What an excellent way of putting it!


  43. I support your theory as well. The first P&P I saw was the 1995 version when I was a teenager and it is far and away my favorite version of the tale. I love it and think it is perfection.

    That being said, I enjoyed this version as well. I watched it for the first time a few years ago and thought it did an excellent job of bringing the book to life. It is definitely a classic.

    Why have I not joined this challenge yet? I was just sadly thinking the other day that my reading is sadly void of any Austen related books this year for some unknown reason. I will hopefully have a blog post up sometime this month to join in the fun. I loved the S&S bicentenary challenge.


  44. I wholeheartedly agree with you about everything except for one thing: we did have a VCR (top-loader, chipped out of stone) and I watched that series over and over until the tape quality started to suffer. Garvie and Rintoul are who I picture when I reread P&P, they are so perfect in their roles. And this Mr. Collins was the best, most true to the book version.

    I’m planning on gushing about this version later in the summer. In the meantime, I have finally finished the second sequel by Linda Berdoll. I liked the first better than the second.


      1. Oh yeah. We were early adopters. In fact, I think my mother still has that VCR in the museum that is her basement. What I particularly remember is fast-forwarding through Alistair Cooke and watching his head dancing all over the place.


  45. It is a trust universally acknowledged that friendships forged over a love of Jane Austen last forever!

    Pride & Prejudice (2005) with Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen): Jacinta and I were excited that a new theatrical version of Pride & Prejudice was hitting the big screen. Not only did we see it once, but hopped into 
    another theater to catch the end of a second showing. The cinematography gave depth to the novel unlike any other adaptation.  That being said, the cinematography  was the only redeeming quality of the movie! Knightley was totally unconvincing as Elizabeth Bennett. The scene when Elizabeth received Jane’s letter regarding Lydia’s scandalous elopement was appalling. 

    A broader question – is the portrayal of the Bennett’s living and working on the family farm, fitting with the country gentlemen that Austen would have experienced? Our thought is that this depiction misrepresents what Austen originally intended in characterizing the Bennett family’s wealth situation.


    1. I saw P&P05 9 times in the theater. I still love it. The house used for Longbourn in this movie is a real house that had a real gentleman and his family living in it during the period. And, while the book states point blank that the Bennets have a working farm, it doesn’t tell us how far the farm is from the house, so this version is perfectly plausible for me. There are a lot of things I don’t like about it, but each adaptation has things I don’t like. The 1995 version of P&P has the most unlikable things about it for me. I don’t hate it, but I don’t squee over it either. And it’s certainly not definitive in my book.


        1. For the gazillionth time, the pig wasn’t in the kitchen.

          Over at, someone posted a floorplan of the house, and there was some sort of passageway and that’s where the pig was.

          No offense intended (truly), but people will use almost any excuse not to like this movie. Yet many of these same people tell me they adore S&S95, which butchers that book at least as much as P&P05 does, if not more. After all, S&S95 leaves out anything that shows just how awful Willoughby really is, and quite a few people who don’t know the book think he’s a sympathetic character. They omitted several characters, and made others more important than they were in the book (such as Mr. Palmer and Margaret). P&P05 does not leave out an equivalent major scene from the book, nor does it omit characters who have an effect on the story.


          1. I’m one of those who like the ’95 P&P mini series (and not because of Colin Firth’s wet shirt escapades, I assure you :) – was too young for that sort of nonsense) – but never took to the ’95 version of S&S much for the same reasons you state. It was beautifully made as period movies go. Lovely settings, colour and lighting. But for staying true to story and sentiments, the ’81 mini series still holds its own, i.m.o. Even though the budgets for those oldies never come any where near more modern productions. Not to mention the stagey tendencies. But if you’ve missed the ’81 S&S, and you like adaptations to stay close to the books, give it a go! :) Though they did scratch Margret Daswhood from the script entirely – children, time constrictions and budgets… ah the havoc they wreak on productions!

            * As an aside; P&P of ’05 still makes me break out in fits and hives ;-P Must have an EpiPen at hand just in case it comes on during a freak zapping-incident on a lazy Sunday evening. But then again, how dull it would be if all Janeites were to agree on everything! We wouldn’t have all of these versions of films and books to enjoy (or enjoy hating).


            1. I have no problem with people who hate P&P05. I do, however, have problems with people who make up reasons to hate it (people are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts), as well as those who denigrate my intelligence for not hating it. I’m not saying that anyone here has done either, just that it has been done at other sites, and I am sick and tired of it. I don’t bash people for thinking that P&P95 is “definitive” (which it certainly isn’t, and I can give lots of reasons why) and I really appreciate it when people give me the same respect.

              As for S&S, I actually like S&S 71 a lot too (it’s the one with Joanna David as Elinor, Robin Ellis as Edward and Patricia Routledge as Mrs. Jennings). They omit Margaret too, but they don’t turn Mr. Palmer into a memorable character, and they don’t turn Willoughby into a pitiable, misunderstood character.


              1. *long post!*
                Well that’s a bugbear if any, no matter what one’s discussing, I can understand the frustration.

                Art however does appeal more to our personal and highly subjective, feelings. And just the fact that we de-code, reconstruct and connect to what we read in our own individual ways I suppose is the culprit when we suddenly see the world we’ve had in our own minds when reading something we loved, translated into, say, a movie – having gone through the process of being minced through someone elses subjective process. When what we see doesn’t correlate or even offends, by being too far off from our own experience that made the work special, it will not be that world we fell in love with = dislike, dissapointment, even hatred. Or the other way around, that world can suddenly come to life in (almost) the precise way you yourself imagined it = happy days. As you’re aware, emotions are far more urgent and explosive than reason – and reactions to things we love are often emotional knee-jerks. All parties would have to walk away, cool off and come back aware of themselves and determined to have as reasonable and factual a discussion as possible. However, internet forums promote more knee-jerk than cool reasoning ;-) And when the subject is art – something inherently subjective… Oh Lord… *fetches smelling salts*

                Interesting that you mention the ’71 S&S, I sort of stopped at the ’81 as it was fair enough. The 70’s style big hair and dull colouring put me off of watching it. There was a ’71 version of Persuasion I had just seen, and however much closer it was to the book than its newer counterparts (haven’t seen the ’95 one with Ciarán Hinds as that man in equal measures scares and creeps me out), I just couldn’t help but feel depressed by all the brownish/dead hues, dull and depressing haze, wrong props and furniture etc. Ann Fairbank+Bryan Marshall together were easy to fall in love with though :) But see, that’s me – what for many others might seem as silly things you could overlook, affects my overall experience and the way the story will make me feel. And that’s as subjective and far from factual and reasonable as you could come :) Might have a try with the ’71 S&S this summer though.

                Ps. As for the romantic crooks of Austen, like Willoughby & Crawford, who are truly detestable… I think they might sometimes be portrayed as pitiable because there are readers who do feel pity for the self-sabotaging wretches. They did both fall in love (in their own way), and Austen’s punishment for their selfish wickedness was that they’d have to live with the fact that they’d ruined their chances of happiness in life through their own wreckless/selfish actions. Rubbing a bit more salt to their self-inflicted wounds were that they’d also had to live with the knowledge that the object of their love moved on with someone else and grew to be happy and prosperous. Ouch. If not pitiable, that is pitiful. And sad… for them. But ‘bed made, lie in it’ does spring ot mind :)


  46. I nearly walked out of the theater in 2005. The only thing I liked about the Keira Knightley movie is the soundtrack.

    As for the Rintoul/Garvie version, I bought the tapes in the late nineties, and I’m sorry to say I could hardly finish them, I was appalled by the acting, the sets, the script. I don’t agree that it is the most faithful adaptation, some of the changes were really puzzling, and there was no spirit, no sparkle evident in the adaptation. My first impression was that I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit, I’m afraid.


  47. Read and reviewed Loving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley in May –

    Delightful read from Nancy Kelley ~
    Tears, tissues and triumphant romance
    as Georgiana and Kitty make their anticipated debut but not without
    forays into intrigue, espionage, and duplicity! that kept this reader wanting to know more…

    All perfectly timed and resolved with a delicious ending!

    THANK YOU, Nancy, for extending our passion for Pride and Prejudice
    to include Georgiana and Col Richard Fitzwilliam’s stories..


  48. I’m one of those who like the ’95 P&P mini series (and not because of Colin Firth’s wet shirt escapades, I assure you :) – was too young for that sort of nonsense) – but never took to the ’95 version of S&S much for the same reasons you state. It was beautifully made as period movies go. Lovely settings, colour and lighting. But for staying true to story and sentiments, the ’81 mini series still holds its own, i.m.o. Even though the budgets for those oldies never come any where near more modern productions. Not to mention the stagey tendencies. But if you’ve missed the ’81 S&S, and you like adaptations to stay close to the books, give it a go! :) Though they did scratch Margret Daswhood from the script entirely – children, time constrictions and budgets… ah the havoc they wreak on productions!

    * As an aside; P&P of ’05 still makes me break out in fits and hives ;-P Must have an EpiPen at hand just in case it comes on during a freak zapping-incident on a lazy Sunday evening. But then again, how dull it would be if all Janeites were to agree on everything! We wouldn’t have all of these versions of films and books to enjoy (or enjoy hating).


  49. I have not seen this version since it aired on Masterpiece, but I remember loving it. And this is the version that turned my husband into an Austen fan and reader. I will have to look for it to watch again.
    I love the Colin Firth (note I don’t say Jennifer Ehle) and Keira Knightley versions also. Each has its charms and defects. I would watch a new BBC or equal calibre version every year, if one were produced.
    But the 1940s movie is horrid.


  50. This is my absolute favorite version for all the reasons listed above and many more. I was thrilled when PBS showed it on US tv but in those days, you could only watch it once or twice, so it had to live on in fond memory.
    There were VHS players at that point but the prices ranged from $600 and up. Luckily for me, my son’s 8th grade class mate had one; I called the boy and asked him to tape P&P for me (on a $25 blank tape). All he could get were the last 2 episodes but I was delighted to have anything! Finally that March I broke down and bought my own recorder (and it was over $600). It was worth every penny to see this wonderful production! I won’t even say what I had to go through to buy the BBC tapes that came out a few years later; they are still available on DVD and contain all 6 novels which aired on the BBC in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

    I remember reading somewhere that Fay Weldon said she used over 90% of Austen’s words; the rest consisted of moving phrases around and a small amount were in Weldon’s own words.


  51. I have watched the 80,95 and 2005 versions and the 80 one is so far the one i believe the best. The acting is superb, the period clothing right on target and altho Darcy is abit stiff, he is still an interesting charecter. Lastnite i watched the 2005 version and was quite unhappy with it for several reasons. The 95 version was by far the funniest and had the best Darcy but there are a few minor complaints. The 05 one had the worst Darcy for me, in particular the scenes where he claimed once his favor is lost it is gone forever and the scenes where he argues with Lizbeth only shine when he is truly enraged. His performance was so dull and the Lizzys father in that one is a bore as well, no fun in his voice, no endearing qualities to make him standout. The camera angles when dancing were dreadful and the extreme closeup of Darcy afterwards make him look like a giant. Very bad directing. The mother in the 05 version had the voice and mannerisms but they didnt use her at all! Why not? Uggh, that film frustrates me to no end that the best actors (charlotte, lizzys mom, deberg, bingly all do not have enough scenes and the mr collins is too short, too young, and looks more afraid of miss deberg than happy with her company. Especially when he introduces elizbeth, he keeps looking paranoid to see her approval. The role of mr collins should be the man who is delusional into thinking miss deberg actually loves his company not scared out of his wits. I suppose this review is more of my complaints of the 05 than the 1980 and for that i apologize and i digress it was my true feelings. I love the 80s and 90s versions for different reasons and would gladly watch either with eagerness. The 05 i would only watch to mock and laugh at its bad acting. I have several more complaints about the 05 one not being true to the period but i supposed i have flamed enough. Before this summer i was a Dark Shadows addict but now my girlfriend has me completely hooked on Jane Austen films and there is no hope. Yes ladies, even men watch these films lol. The 1980 is splendid and i hope people who love the 95 and 05 will give it a chance because alot of the bbc classics of the 80s were acted as stiff as mr darcy, but it is no less a classic nor entertaining but more a product of the way films were made at the time.


  52. I’ve watched the 1980 version on YouTube recently. What I do like is the portraying of the fondness of Mr Bennet for Lizzie. I found it therefore disappointing that there was no scene of him expressing his worries about Lizzy marrying Darcie.


  53. I posted this elsewhere, re: the 1980 version, but had HAD to post here, as it definitely applies. :) Thank you so much for your thoughtful blog!

    I think your theory is correct – my very first viewing was the 1980 version, and I loved it. I just rewatched it for a second time a few nights ago and was still charmed. While I had some quibbles with how robotic David Rintoul’s Darcy was, I think the level of control was an interesting choice, up against Elizabeth Garvey’s spritely Lizzy, whom I absolutely loved in the role. She was just the right touch of intelligence, wit, manners with occasional unbridled impertinence. If I had my way, I’d like to see a pairing of Garvey and Firth. But still, I don’t like to discount one over the other. Having acted, there’s so much going into creating a world, from direction to acting to the style of the screenplay. The 1980 version shows us Elizabeth’s world, and the darkness, and even boredom. There are long shots of waiting in shadow, and her pensive monologues were (in my mind) a positive addition to the story telling, keeping Austen’s prose true to their original form.

    It’s interesting that with every retelling, the story gets more and more emotive! From 1980, to 1995, to 2005, I see a bit of Bronte elements creeping in. (And I love Bronte.)

    So for me, the 1980 version is rather special. But do I love 1995? Absolutely. Did I enjoy 2005? Very much so. I think the strength of the work makes a compelling performance, regardless of what favorites we might harbor with each retelling.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and not feeling the need to truly trash on one over the other. I can’t wait for another version to come out. Mr. Darcy is the gentlewoman’s crack, after all! (How romantic of me.)


  54. Oh this 1979 version has always been my favourite ever since I first watched each episode when first aired on the BBC. When I was finally able to video it I watched it many times. My sisters and I know the dialogue by heart. Every actor was perfect in their role especially Lady Catherine, Mr Collins and Mrs Bennett who is so often played as a hysteric. This one was a very well observed and funny portrayal. David Rintoul is my definitive Mr Darcy, so haughty and proud but gradually piqued by Lizzie’s character. Elizabeth Garvie is also my perfect Elizabeth Bennett, always observing, always offering an opinion. The best thing though is the adaptation by Fay Weldon. She allows Austen’s words to speak for themselves especially in the crucial proposal scene. And Weldon comes up with the words Austen doesn’t go into in the final scenes and rounds it all off perfectly with Mr Bennett saying “send in any gentlemen that call for Kitty or Mary as I am quite at leisure”. A joy!


  55. I like this version very much. I’ve enjoyed ALL of the version of “Pride and Prejudice” very much. But . . . I am at a loss as to why this 1980 version is considered the most faithful.

    Fay Weldon’s changes in Austen’s tale seemed most obvious in the segments that featured Elizabeth’s visit to Hunsford, the Collins’ home in Kent and the Netherfield Ball. I was especially disappointed with the Netherfield Ball sequence. It seemed so rushed.


  56. You may be interested to note that it is not always one’s first version of P&P that stays with them. My first screen P&P was the 1940 movie. I was shocked & chagrined at the shifting of the story, both in time (as shown by the 1830’s Romantic Era costuming) and in tone: Mr. Bennet was not nearly as sarcastic and curmudgeonly, nor, more notably, was Lady Catherine. Yes, it was cute of them to have made her “only pretending” to be nasty so she could scout Lizzy’s true feelings for Darcy, and it fit with the overall more gentle tone of the movie, but all of that was an insult to the book. It was my second P&P that I loved, because it made up for all the deficiencies of the first: the 1980 miniseries.

    I was never more pleasantly chocked by a production in my life. It was as if they had peeked into my brain for the pictures I had conjured, and put them on the screen. Every actor hit every note of a natural and believable performance; no stiltedness, so exaggeration. I freely admit that the costumes do no better than any other well-done historical production: you can always tell the era in which a costume is reproduced, either by the colors available, or the patterns; I tend to forgive that if the proper effort is made.

    I tend to wax a little effusive when discussing Elizabeth Garvie, because she, out of all the Lizzies, most embodies the description in the novel: she is not supposed to be classically beautiful, but have an attraction that blooms through wit & liveliness. I was particularly pleased that the director cast a group of women who could actually be mistaken for sisters. In the 1995 movie, the girls looked about as different as you could get and still be in the same race! I have to say that the ’95 version is my least favorite, due to that casting choice, the overacting done by at least a few of the cast (which may not have been their fault; you never know what a director has told an actor to do) and all the many additions to the movie that were not in the book. I found them unnecessary and even tedious.

    In closing, I adore the invitation to comment; right out of Lady Catherine’s mouth!! LOL!


  57. Hi Laurel

    Thank you for the thorough review. I really enjoy reading it and cannot agree more. 1980 version is always my favourite.

    I recently visited Renishaw Hall, shooting location of Pemberley. Walking around the ground, imagine the TV scene, it was exciting. I do not think the interior of Pemberley was shot in Renishaw Hall. I visited the House itself, could not find the long gallery of portraits. A little disappointed. Nevertheless, I like the visit as It has been my wish to view “Pemberley” one day.

    This is a kind of thing that a P & P fan will do.

    Bell from Singapore


  58. I am an American but was living and going to high school (lower 6th Form/ first year of A-Levels) in England in 1979 and kept hearing from the other girls speak about the BBC production of P&P that was running on tv at the time…it ruined me for life!!! I am a hard-core anglophile, Jane Austen fan, and ended up pursuing and earning a degree in British Lit at university. Upon retiring from my first career, I am now teaching English in a high school. P&P is the book my senior English class is reading this year and much to my great surprise and joy, my students are eating it up with a spoon! I had to give the class lots of background lectures supplemented with videos before we started the book but we are off and running now! Once they finish reading enough chapters, I share this 1979 adaptation of P&P with the class. I told them to ignore the old-fashioned staging and such but I was choosing this production of P&P because this is THE ONE adaptation that stays truest to the book. We discuss what bits of the book have been cut and how they have cleverly inserted other bits and pieces of the book into the production in a different order or perhaps having a different character speak the words than the book, etc. and the class is loving it!

    They are talking about the book outside of class too – WOO HOO!!!! They even got playfully “upset” with one student who revealed a spoiler in their weekly reading that they hadn’t gotten to yet!

    Once we finish the book and this BBC series, we will look at snippets of some other versions produced and discuss how modern sensibilities have influenced the way the characters are portrayed as well as the tweaking of the story (and see which versions they prefer and why) then we’ll wind up the year viewing movies such as Austenland and Bride and Prejudice…it has been such a fun class to teach!

    The story and characters have been such a hit with the class and the kiddos were so excited to tell me they saw Mr. Darcy in an ad during the Super Bowl last week (apparently Will Farrell traveling through history or some such thing???)!!!!! I am so excited they are connecting the dots and are recognizing Jane’s influence on and in our culture today! I have told them that once they finish reading and know the original P&P, they will see references to this book/story/characters EVERYWHERE…it is so exciting as a teacher to pass the love of this P&P and Miss Jane herself onto my students, and definitely, this adaptation has helped them so much! (And of course, this was my introduction to P&P so of course, this is my first love….)


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