Premiering Sunday, August 25 on ITV, Sanditon will be the first television series inspired by Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel.
Jane Austen fans in the UK have much to celebrate. Austen’s seaside Regency drama is being given the red-carpet treatment by the co-production team of Red Planet Pictures in the UK and MASTERPIECE PBS in the US. Adapting and continuing the eight-part series will be veteran period drama screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Sense and Sensibility (2008)), and a cast of accomplished and emerging British actors will portray the lively and diverse characters that Austen established in her novel, with a few additions to the roister as well. The new series will air on eight consecutive Sundays at 9:00pm August 25 through October 13, 2019.
Inset of the first page of the manuscript that would later be titled Sanditon: “A Gentleman & Lady travelling from Tun-bridge towards that part of the Sussex Coast which lies between Hastings & E. Bourne being induced by Business to quit the high road, and were overturned in half rock, half sand toiling up its long ascent.” Via Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts
Sanditon was written in 1817 when Austen was seriously ill. She was only able to finish twelve chapters and about 24,000 words before her poor health prevented her from completing it. Four months later she would die on July 18, 1817, of what is generally believed to be Addison’s disease. The manuscript was passed down through family members until it was donated in 1930 to King’s College in Cambridge where it now resides. The fragment of the novel is classified as one of her minor works. Continue reading
The highly anticipated release of Love & Friendship, filmmaker Whit Stillman’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, arrives this Friday, May 13 in Los Angeles, New York and Paris with national release set for May 27, 2016. Early praise for the film is more than encouraging: “FLAT-OUT-HILARIOUS. Jane Austen has never been funnier.” – The Telegraph; “Whit Stillman and English novelist Jane Austen make for a delightful pairing in this comedy of manners.” – The Star.com; “Kate Beckinsale magnetizes the screen.” – Variety.
We have long been a champion of Austen’s Lady Susan. So much so we dedicated an entire blog event to it in 2009, A Soiree with Lady Susan. For those who have not read this delightfully wicked novella by Austen written in the 1790’s and published posthumously in 1871, I highly recommend it. Besides changing the title to Love and Friendship, (also the title of one of Austen’s juvenilia), Stillman has added his movie magic and adapted the story into a screenplay.
Here is a description from the distributor Roadside Attractions:
Humorous and witty, devious and scheming, or Downton Abbey with laughs, LOVE & FRIENDSHIP is an adaptation of young Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, believed to have been written in the mid 1790s but revised up to a fair copy prepared in 1805 and finally published by her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, in 1871. Continue reading
“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love” … with Downton Abbey all over again. The final season starts in less than one month on Masterpiece Classic PBS on January 3, 2016. My anticipation of another season of great drama, romance, and witty retorts runs high.
I am, of course, paraphrasing The Christmas Waltz; the famous 1954 holiday song written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne for Frank Sinatra. There is nothing like listening to Christmas carols to make me sentimental. Coupled with the fact that this will be the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey, one of my favorite period dramas on television, and I am ready for a double shot of brandy in my eggnog.
Despite my melodramatic angst over the conclusion of the Crawley family and their servants’ story, fellow Downtonites can revisit the fabulous plots, locations, and characters by reading the final companion volume to the series, Downton Abbey – A Celebration, by Jessica Fellowes. This is her fourth large and lavish book spotlighting the phenomenally popular, award-winning television series. And, it truly lives up to its title—a jubilant fête worthy of her uncle Julian Fellowes’ vision of portraying the changes in the British aristocracy through the Crawley family and their servants from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 to the Jazz Age of 1925. Continue reading
Captain Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner). Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS
Last week in episode 6 of Poldark, we had the “Pride and Prejudice Poldark Edition,” in which talk of frocks, balls and beaus resounded with snappy repartees and witty retorts, in true Jane Austen style.
This week in episode 7 of Poldark, it’s just another day in Cornwall when an epidemic strikes the community, tragedy befalls the Poldark family and a rip roaring shipwreck sends more than a ship to the bottom of the sea, in the thrilling and heartbreaking 2 hour season 1 finale.
Side Note: Masterpiece Classic chose to combine episodes 7 and 8 of the UK broadcast into one episode. This will be confusing to some. Do not be alarmed. Both episodes are included.
(Fair warning. There be spoilers ahead)
“Where’s Verity?”—Elizabeth Poldark
While George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) reminds Ross Poldark’s (Aidan Turner) business partner Sir Jonathan Tressider (Mark Seaman) where his true interests lie in light of the debt that he owes to Warleggan Bank, Verity (Ruby Bentall) makes her move (finally) and elopes with Captain Blamey (Richard Harrington). Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller), the narcissistic cad that he is, does not take the news well. He is convinced that Ross aided them in their plans. His wife Elizabeth (Heida Reed) questions his rash accusations, defending Ross proclaiming, “I stand up for no one, but it’s the merest justice not to condemn people unheard.”
Jud (Phil Davis) and Prudie (Beatie Edney) leave Nampara in Poldark. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS
“Don’t bend ye brows at me girl. You ain’t nothin’ but a trull from Illugin.”—Jud Paynter
Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS
Last week in episode 5 of Poldark everyone was reckless and bold—gambling on their future and love. Miner Mark Daniel married a questionable woman, Ross began a copper smelting company, Demelza played defiant matchmaker and Francis had a meltdown after losing his mine in a card game.
This week: The Pride and Prejudice Poldark edition. In which talk of frocks, balls and beaus resounds with sparkling repartees and retorts, echoing Jane Austen’s prose.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS
“You’ll never get it Ross.”—Francis Poldark
“Justice for all.”—Francis Poldark
“Fair wages would be a start.”—Ross Poldark
With the image of the shirtless and buff Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) scything his field in episode three still fresh in our minds, the scene of his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) attempting the same sends an entirely different message. Moral fortitude vs. weakness has won the day. Taking the initiative and rebuilding your life has paid off for Ross. Will his cousin rise to the challenge? The omen that Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) foretold of the dark and fair Poldark, “The stronger rises as the weaker falls,” has flipped in the five years since Ross’s return. The only ammunition that Francis has left to wound his cousin is sarcasm and doubt. Continue reading
Captain Ross Poldark in His Majesty’s 62nd Regiment of Foot regimentals (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS
Getting the historical details correct is so critical in period drama today. Gone are the days when Greer Garson could wear a hoop skirt in the 1940 Pride and Prejudice and get away with it. The production team of the new BBC/PBS Poldark, at Mammoth Screen Ltd., have stepped up to the mark depicting late eighteenth-century Cornwall, warts and all. Advising them in this monumental task is lecturer, author and historian Hannah Greig who joins us today to answer a few questions about her role in the production of Poldark and the historical context that it is set in.
An illustration “A Beauty in Search of Knowledge” derived from a print by John Raphael Smith, 1782 (c) British Library
LAN: Welcome Hannah. One has visions of historians entrenched in musty library stacks secretly pining for their favorite reference librarian! Besides teaching and writing, you have carved out an interesting niche as Historical Advisor for films, television and theatre. This seems like a very glamorous job. Can you share with us what your duties are, what a typical day would be like, and what kind of questions are asked by the production team? Continue reading
Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), new dad, bad-ass miner and wavering lover.
Last week in episode 4 of Poldark the scandal mongers were in high dudgeon after the marriage of Ross to his kitchen maid Demelza, Uncle Charles’ death forced his son Francis to become more than a lawn ornament, Demelza Doolittle discovered that becoming a lady is hard work and Ross had an epiphany–he loves his wife!
This week everyone is RECKLESS AND BOLD—gambling on their future and love: Mark Daniel in his choice of bride, Keren; Ross in his new business venture, Demelza in her defiance, and Francis with his livelihood. The only person who is nonplussed is George Warleggan.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett), a player on more than just the stage, one suspects.
“I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.” — Keren Smith as Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well
Two new important characters have entered the Poldark sphere: Dr. Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett). While Dr. Enys (in this screen version) is Ross Poldark’s (Aidan Turner) amiable army buddy arriving in Cornwall to study miners lung ailments, Keren is a seductive siren, an actress performing in a traveling troop who captures the heart of miner Mark Daniel (Matthew Wilson). Did any other Shakespeare fans recognize her soliloquy during the stage production? It is Helena’s lament for her love Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well by Shakespeare—a very interesting selection for the screenwriter to choose. I will not say more, lest I spoil it for everyone. Mark agrees to Keren’s demanding terms for a marriage. He has four days to prepare a home for her or she leaves. Anyone read Why Men Love Bitches? She might have ghost written it. Just sayin’. Continue reading
“They like you.” proclaims Demelza to Ross. No kidding, sweetie!
Last week, episode three of Poldark began with Ross re-opening his family copper mine, Demelza catching his eye while dancing at a local villager’s wedding, Jim’s trial for poaching ending badly, and Ross, after a hellish day arguing with Demelza while trying to resist the temptations of the flesh, succumbing to said temptations, ending in their surprise nuptials. Whoa!
This week, as the scandal of their wedding rocks the community and sours Ross’s business venture, Uncle Charles joins the blessed above (or below), and Verity instructs Demelza on becoming a lady. A first Christmas together for Romelza is shared with the dreaded Poldark family at Trenwith, resulting in a revelation for Ross.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Prudie (Beatie Edney) and Jud (Philip Davis), servants of Nampara
“One minute she is skiverly scullery kitchen maid, the next she be Mistress High and Mighty.” — Jud
“Do you think it not as strange to me as it is to you? Do you imagine I ever looked for or expected it? Come to think of it, it is more your fault than mine.” — Demelza
“How be that then?” — Jud
“Tis you that raised me up and taught me all I know. So If I am fit for better than I hoped, blame yourselves for educating me.” — Demelza
The whole community is shocked by the news of Demelza and Ross’s marriage, including his caustic family, the scheming Warleggans (who smell a profit to be made from society’s prejudice), and the two Nampara servants, Jud and Prudie, who finally confront her. I just love how Demelza (clever girl) turns the sword around and points it firmly back at her former fellow servants while complimenting them at the same time. Touché! Continue reading
Ross! Just say yes to the dress, already!
Last week in episode two of Poldark we saw Ross and Elizabeth’s sexually charged dance at the assembly ball reveal their continued attraction, the wile Warleggans planting seeds of destruction and Demelza, cleaned up and earning admiration from her employer.
This week in episode three we witness two weddings and a scything.
Fair warning. This episode is packed with so many plotlines that even this most astute fan needed to take extensive notes. In addition (if you did not blink) we witnessed a mine opening, scurrilous gossip, two births, a near fatal heart attack, more scurrilous gossip, a court trial, accusations of sin, said sin actualized, and of course, more slithering on the sidelines by those dastardly Warleggans.
(there be spoilers ahead)
“Are the rumors true do you think? — Dr. Choake
“Well, he’s a damn fool if they are not.” — Horace Treneglos
Rumors are afoot in Cornwall. Captain Poldark may have employed the13 year-old Demelza with honorable intensions to save her from beatings and starvation, but society can only see the scandal in it. Are these comments telescoping what will come now that she is 17 and a beautiful young woman?
Rev. Odger (Jason Squibb) lays on the implied guilt to Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner)
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Heida Reed as Elizabeth Poldark
We were mesmerized by last week’s premiere of Poldark on Masterpiece. Even though it was a front loading fest—to get us up to speed on the characters and lay of the land—the energy and tension really propelled our interest (and admiring gaze) toward what promises to be a swash and buckle summer.
This week in episode two, Ross dances, George wiles and Demelza washes her hair!
BRIEF RECAP (there be spoilers ahead)
A scandalous suicide and closure of another mine shocks the community, bringing the dangers of running a mine close to home. Undaunted, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is determined to reopen Wheal Leisure, his father’s derelict copper mine. After discussions with friendly banker Mr. Pascoe (Richard Hope), they are hopeful to acquire investors in the scheme. Ross asks his cousin Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller) to join him as a partner in his venture, but he is reluctant, surprised by Ross’s altruistic reasons for resurrecting the mine to help his tenants. In a rare moment of doubt, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) expresses concern to his Uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) of their culpability in the death of mine owner Lord Basset after not extending his loans. Continue reading
We wonder why tricorn hats went out of style. They were so commanding. In the 18th century, all the important men wore them: General George Washington, King George III, Catherine the Great, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Captain Ross Poldark. POLDARK? Who is Ross Poldark you ask? Well period drama fans, if you don’t know who that is by now, let me tell you. After viewing the first episode of the new reboot of the eponymous BBC/PBS period drama Poldark you will never be puzzled by who this gentleman is again—only why you waited so long to make his acquaintance. He’s handsome. He’s brooding. He’s rebellious. He’s right there on your television screens for seven Sundays in a row this summer on PBS.
Masterpiece Theatre (now Masterpiece Classic) first introduced us to Cap’n Poldark in their landmark 1975 screen adaptation of author Winston Graham’s best-selling novels. The two-season, 29 episode series was a huge hit on both sides of the pond. Forty years ago English actor Robin Ellis filled those big, black boots. Teenage fan girls mobbed him like he was one of the Beatles. The show made him a star.
This time around the iconic romantic hero nonpareil is played by Irish actor Aidan Turner. Up until this point, he has played the trifecta of on-screen para-normal beings: a vampire (Being Human), a hobbit (The Hobbit) and a werewolf (Mortal Instruments). Could this strikingly handsome actor play the most complex romantic hero to grace our screens since Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester or Mr. Thornton? We shall see. Continue reading
Sooner or later, everything that is old is new again—if we wait long enough! Masterpiece Theatre, and its phoenix Masterpiece Classic, is well-aware of this. Having successfully presented period drama for over forty years they have been a bit redundant at times. I lost track years ago of which version of David Copperfield we were on, so when I heard the news last year that the BBC and PBS were joining forces again to retool Poldark, one of my all-time favorites, I was jubilant. Enough time had passed to ride the Cornish cliffs with Ross Poldark again.
Based on the cherished historical fiction novels by Winston Graham, Poldark was originally adapted for the screen and presented in 29 episodes in 1975 and 1977. It was a sensation on both sides of the pond. Period drama fans still rave about it, including this one! As one of Masterpiece’s early landmark productions it remains the second best-selling period drama series ever created, only surpassed by the monumental Pride and Prejudice of 1995 staring Colin Firth. That is some pedigree.
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Heida Reed as Elizabeth Chynoweth
The new seven part series of Poldark premiers on Masterpiece Classic PBS on Sunday, June 21 and continues through August 2. After following the media frenzy as it aired in the UK in March and April of this year, and seeing the new series myself, I can share that period drama fans have the summer to fall in love with Poldark. I can assure you that it will only take about five minutes to be totally besotted. Continue reading