laffite

Re Favorite BBC Productions, Plays, TV, etc...

244 posts in this topic

This thread is six years old, but I'm posting on it anyway. :)

 

Probably my favorite British TV production is Jeeves and Wooster, with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.  I'm a rabid fan of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories, and though I had doubts that any movie/show could do the author justice, this show was terrific.  Hugh Laurie seems to lift Bertie Wooster from the page and make him three dimensional.  With Jeeves, though I have the impression he is older in print, Fry was wonderful - I love his facial expressions / reactions to his master's bumbling.

 

I was also impressed by the production itself - the location shooting, the camera angles, the attention to period detail - they are almost like mini-movies.

 

It broadcast from 1990-1993.  The first two seasons were the best, and by the fourth it seemed to be losing steam.  My one major criticism is that they were frequently (and inexplicably) replacing the minor characters with different actors with each season.  I'm not sure why that was, but it wasn't as if viewers wouldn't notice, especially with characters like Aunts Dahlia and Agatha.  Still, the show is worth a watch (not sure if it's on YouTube; I know it's on DVD...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Laffite,

 

I just discovered the BBC series The Shadow of the Tower on youtube. I didn't even know about this one. It was made in 1972 and covers the period of Henry VII. A prequel to The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R.

 

There is no Keith Michell or Glenda Jackson to dominate the preceedings but I will definitely be giving this a look as time permits. In these days when we have productions like The White Queen I'm sure a lot of people find these BBC historical dramas old fashioned and stagey but I really like them. They didn't have much of a budget but they did a wonderful job casting these old shows and they tend to stick more to the historical facts.

 

I don't know if you or anyone else has seen these. Maybe there are others I don't know about that go back further or take up the period after Elizabeth R.  

 

 Yeah, if time permits, I feel the same. I know so little about Henry VII, it would help to brush up first. I think it's better if you know something first in these type things?

 

Did you see Wolf Hall? I couldn't get into it. And the lead did not thrill me much. So different than those "old fashion and stagey" types, which I probably prefer with these sorts of historical drama. The characters didn't seem flushed out, everybody seems so circumspect, it didn't move much for me. Mark Relance (sp?) was dull and for me anyway did not have the je ne sais quoi to carry the day as the lead. I would though to be fair give it another reading if the time is right. The whole ambiance was different than those days of old. As you point out, when you have Glenda Jackson and Kieth Michell, you get bigger than life portrayals performed with flamboyance and in a deliciously stagey way that works for me. I did not see all of Wolf Hall, and it was the interesting things, historically, that I didn't get to. They took Cromwell from the beginning of his life and took awhile to get all the juicy stuff with AnneB.

 

About four months ago I went through this entire thread. There was so much more there than I remembered. And it was going on for quite awhile before we embarked on the wives of big Henry, I had thought that it was this that was the reason for the thread. I was dismayed at the end when I noticed not making a congratulatory comment on your Jane Seymour post. I had already taken my shot at Jane and you followed with yours and I was blown away at how you brought the history to bear. It was a deserving of congratulation, which I take the opportunity to do now. It was a fabulous post and a little over my head I think. My history is good enough in a general sense, which I believe is necessary (as I said above) with these sort of dramas but you covered it beyond the call and duty and in a non-stuffy academic way.

 

Eugenia: I didn't see all those Jeeves and Wooster episodes but I recorded them all on VHS and they looked nice on the shelf anyway. I was so into the collection that sometimes the actual viewing gets left behind. I do remember how delightful that first episode was and I loved the way they weaved in the music, there was a line of two of melody that they reprised several times. Very energetic. I should check NetF, I could go for that right about now.

 

laffite

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Laffite,

 

Thanks for your comments on that Jane Semour post.

 

From what little I have seen of The Shadow of the Tower it looks like it is going to be interesting, to me anyway. It appears it will go into a lot about Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Prince Richard of York, the younger of the princes in the tower who had managed to escape death according to him and his supporters. So he was challenging Henry's claim to the throne.

 

The reign of Henry VII is often passed over. I don't know a great deal about it myself. I do think it is good to have some background on the subject before going into these series. It makes for a better viewing experience.

 

I have not seen Wolf Hall but I would be willing to give it chance if I get the time. I certainly understand about getting to the good stuff too. There are always particular parts of the story that we find more interesting. It looks like The Shadow of the Tower, which is thireen episodes, covers the last nine years of Henry's reign in just the final two episodes. So the parts about Catherine of Aragon and her marriage to Prince Arthur are not going to be dealt with in much detail, nor her long period of waiting after Arthur's death.

 

Eugenia,

 

I haven't seen Jeeves and Wooster, so many things to see!  :) 

I do like the Jeeves stories though.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread is six years old, but I'm posting on it anyway. :)

 

Probably my favorite British TV production is Jeeves and Wooster, with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.  I'm a rabid fan of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories, and though I had doubts that any movie/show could do the author justice, this show was terrific.  Hugh Laurie seems to lift Bertie Wooster from the page and make him three dimensional.  With Jeeves, though I have the impression he is older in print, Fry was wonderful - I love his facial expressions / reactions to his master's bumbling.

 

I was also impressed by the production itself - the location shooting, the camera angles, the attention to period detail - they are almost like mini-movies.

 

It broadcast from 1990-1993.  The first two seasons were the best, and by the fourth it seemed to be losing steam.  My one major criticism is that they were frequently (and inexplicably) replacing the minor characters with different actors with each season.  I'm not sure why that was, but it wasn't as if viewers wouldn't notice, especially with characters like Aunts Dahlia and Agatha.  Still, the show is worth a watch (not sure if it's on YouTube; I know it's on DVD...)

Jeeves and Wooster is a delight. I'm smiling just thinking about it. I have the audio CD of the music, which features Hugh Laurie singing "Nagasaki" and "Minnie the Moocher" as well as music composed for the series. It's great. (Unfortunately, the CD does not include that gem, "Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors.")

 

 

 

Regarding the Henrys, I wasn't going to watch Wolf Hall, as so much has been dramatized relative to Henry VIII. But I did watch and found it riveting. I'm a particular fan of Shakespeare's Henry VI trilogy. It's early Shakespeare and not considered among his greatest works, but it works so well on stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeeves and Wooster is a delight. I'm smiling just thinking about it. I have the audio CD of the music, which features Hugh Laurie singing "Nagasaki" and "Minnie the Moocher" as well as music composed for the series. It's great. (Unfortunately, the CD does not include that gem, "Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors.")

 

I love all of those songs, too.  Bertie is a clown but he sings and plays the piano so well.  My favorite is "Oh, By Jingo" (the melody, the lyrics, etc.).  This was a tune from vaudeville which was also performed by William Frawley as Fred Mertz on an "I Love Lucy" episode.

 

By the way, I was really surprised recently when I stumbled on the fact that Hugh Laurie is an accomplished jazz musician.  Here's one of his clips on YouTube.  I think if you Google "Hugh Laurie jazz" you'll find more information, if you're curious.

 

 

 

One last shout out for Laurie - he can portray Bertie Wooster as stupid without too much exaggeration.  In Bertie's mind, he thinks he is making sense and is intelligent, while we as the audience laugh at him.  He plays stupidity straight, and that's the great thing about his acting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love all of those songs, too.  Bertie is a clown but he sings and plays the piano so well. 

That jazz clip is brilliant!

 

Another series, of which I am quite fond is the original Mapp and Lucia, with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, and Nigel Hawthorne. Not BBC -- it was Channel 4, although it was remade last year by the BBC. I haven't seen the remake, which stars Anna Chancellor and Miranda Richardson.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone seen the BBC series "House of Elliott"?  It was another short-lived program, set in 1920s Britain, about two culturally revolutionary sisters who open a fashion house.  I enjoyed the first couple of seasons, but as I guess with most TV series it eventually started to lose its edge.  I was looking for something similar to "Jeeves and Wooster" in quality. 

 

I've been actually looking for more good BBC programming in general, period pieces mainly.  At one point I was going to start my own thread on it (BBC productions), so when laffite's thread popped up unexpectedly I was really happy... 

 

(Adding): Oh, how can I possibly forget "All Creatures Great and Small"??  I also have this DVD set.  I love it!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeeves and Wooster is a delight. I'm smiling just thinking about it. I have the audio CD of the music, which features Hugh Laurie singing "Nagasaki" and "Minnie the Moocher" as well as music composed for the series. It's great. (Unfortunately, the CD does not include that gem, "Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors.")

 

 

It is a delight. My only problem with the series was the detour through New York but overall it was funny and well done. I didn't find out until several years later that Laurie and Fry had been a comedy team. Well, this certainly played to that strength.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering how many quality TV programs the BBC has produced over the years, the question is this -

 

Why is BBC America so bloody horrible?

I think some of it in the past was superb.  Anyone else still like Pride and Prejudice; the 1978 version with David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie?  I also like the 1995 version with Keira Knigthly and Colin Firth.  ALso on Mystery! some splendid productions; Inspector Morse, Inspector Wexford, and Commander Dalgliesh.  Of course we were earlier treated to Joan Hickson as a

wonderful Miss Marple and various others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the 70's when I still lived at home with my parents, we all enjoyed Upstairs, Downstairs and looked forward to every installment.  They were beautifully acted and timeless. 

 

There were some clever things in the 80's my husband and I enjoyed;  Malice Aforethought with Hywel Bennett, Cheryl Campbell and Judy Parfitt.  We also enjoyed watching Inspector Maigret and later Midsomer Murders.  A unique Thomas Hardy story was dramatized as "Day After the Fair" with Hannah Gordon.  Wish our cable wasn't acting up the last time it was on. 

 

Lately we are watching the Miss Marples again and without doubt treasure Joan Hickson's performance as the best Miss M.  The stories have been remade lately and even altered for diversity, but we prefer the originals.  Also, David Suchet was excellent in the Hercule Poirot stories.  The latest was Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Frankly, I feel that some of the Midsomer Murders are a little too gruesome.  I prefer Inspector Wexford we had enjoyed previously,  although it also touches on some of those topics.  I guess the stories are unique at times.

 

Ruth Rendell's Some Lie and Some DIe,  A Sleeping Life , Harm Done, No More Dying Then, Put on by Cunning A Sleeping Life,  were marvelous books and just as marvelously acted by George Baker and Christopher Ravenscroft.,  The titles stayed with me because they were so beautifully acted on Mystery!  as well. 

 

Rebecca - The 4 parter from 1978 was absolutely marvelous with Jeremy Brett and Joanna David.  Though one could never top the wonderful 1940 movie of the same title, Jeremy makes a great Max DeWinter!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think some of it in the past was superb.  Anyone else still like Pride and Prejudice; the 1978 version with David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie?  I also like the 1995 version with Keira Knigthly and Colin Firth.  ALso on Mystery! some splendid productions; Inspector Morse, Inspector Wexford, and Commander Dalgliesh.  Of course we were earlier treated to Joan Hickson as a

wonderful Miss Marple and various others.

 

Allow me a small correction, please ... it was Jennifer Ehle that co-starred with Colin Firth in that 1995 P&P.

 

In your other post you mentioned Jeremy Brett in Rebecca. I haven't seen it but it sounds interesting. I did see the 1995 version with Charles Dance as Max and Diana Rigg as Mrs Danvers. I don't remember much of this latter though I recall vividly that Diana had a couple of character-revealing monologues that were quite outstanding.

 

=

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've completed the first three episodes of that old venerable series, Upstairs Downstairs, and am still trying to decide whether or not I actually watched all the way through back then, so many eons ago. This is 1971 and those were relatively turbulent years for me and I rather doubt it, though some of this is ringing familiar.

 

The first three episodes have been dominated by an actress named Pauline Collins who plays Sarah and who can safely be designated as Miss Free Spirit of 1904. She is very good and quite a cute little number to boot. The ever steady Jean Marsh is there. The only person who I wish wasn't there is that damn Mrs Bridges who is driving me nuts. She is running off at the mouth at every turn. What a fussbudget! Miss Fussbudget of All Time, Mrs Bridges, she is.

 

Episode Three is particularly brilliant IMO. It's a when-the-cat-is-away-the-mice-will-play little comedy-drama. All the Upstairs people are on vacation, and even the wheels of the Downstairs stratum are not there. Mr Hudson is away as well Mrs Bridges (a welcome respite). There's a great deal of cutting up with the lower segment of the Downstairs people as they "gallivant" around drinking champagne and trying on the fine apparel of the Master and Lady Bellamy and generally have a great deal of fun. The ensemble acting is phenomenal. As a group there is absolute spontaneity, realistic cross talk, excellently executed, with some of the takes rather long. I was bowled over.

 

There is thematic poignancy in an encounter between the son, the heir to the household (one of the cats who return unexpectedly to find the mice at play) and Sarah (who is the only downstairs individual who seems to know how to talk to Royalty) about class and an equally wonderful scene between Sarah and Rose (Jean Marsh) who have developed a rather sweet friendship, devoted to each other and in a most wholesome way.

 

What a quality show, this. I really didn't think I was going to get hooked, I ordered it from NetF as a sort of curiosity venture ... but I think I am (hooked).  I will continue, or try to anyway, the length of this little series is daunting.

 

But for the moment, it's Rebecca (1995) with Charles Dance (The Jewel in the Crown, Bleak House [2005], and Game of Thrones) and Diana Rigg (Bleak House [1985?] to name one)  and an actress named Emelia Fox as the second Mrs de Winter. On to Manderley!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

What a quality show, this. I really didn't think I was going to get hooked, I ordered it from NetF as a sort of curiosity venture ... but I think I am (hooked).  I will continue, or try to anyway, the length of this little series is daunting.

 

You bring back memories of a great series. I remember watching it and discussing it at work every Monday. It was actually not BBC -- it was LWT. It was seminal in that it inspired so many similarly themed shows, right up to Downton Abbey, although of course Noel Coward's Cavalcade was the real progenitor.  You're too hard on dear old Mrs. Bridges, who is certainly the model for cranky but lovable Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey. And we should be grateful to Mrs. Bridges for having introduced the Spotted Dick to Americans!

 

Upstairs Downstairs began airing in the U.S. in 1974 and was part of the third season of Masterpiece Theater.  For me, highlights of the first two seasons were The First Churchills, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Elizabeth R (with a brilliant Glenda Jackson), and Tom Brown's Schooldays. Other highlights of that period (though not on "Masterpiece Theater") were The Pallisers and Family at War.

 

Here's a chronology of Masterpiece Theater, although many of the BBC-type programs were on PBS but not part of that series; or not on PBS at all.

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/archive/programs.html

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You bring back memories of a great series. I remember watching it and discussing it at work every Monday. It was actually not BBC -- it was LWT. It was seminal in that it inspired so many similarly themed shows, right up to Downton Abbey, although of course Noel Coward's Cavalcade was the real progenitor.  You're too hard on dear old Mrs. Bridges, who is certainly the model for cranky but lovable Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey. And we should be grateful to Mrs. Bridges for having introduced the Spotted Dick to Americans!

 

Upstairs Downstairs began airing in the U.S. in 1974 and was part of the third season of Masterpiece Theater.  For me, highlights of the first two seasons were The First Churchills, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Elizabeth R (with a brilliant Glenda Jackson), and Tom Brown's Schooldays. Other highlights of that period (though not on "Masterpiece Theater") were The Pallisers and Family at War.

 

Here's a chronology of Masterpiece Theater, although many of the BBC-type programs were on PBS but not part of that series; or not on PBS at all.

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/archive/programs.html

 

Okay, sorry Mrs Bridges, I will try to look upon you as the "cranky but lovable" type fussbudget-wise. And many thanks for the Spotted Dick. You see, if I had seen you the first time round I would have learned what that was (assuming that later in the show you will be preparing same), as it is I had to look it up. The picture on Wiki resembles a cake but it is referred to as pudding. Sure looks good. (To circumvent some of the double-entendres surround this nomenclature some opted for the name of Spotted Richard, which I heartily endorse.)

 

Your mention, Swithin, of LWT reminded me that in the OP way back then, I made note that anything in the vein of what we think of as BBC or Masterpiece Theater is fair game here, for instance a movie like Carrington would be just fine (love that one). Or Handful of Dust is another. Not quibbling here, in fact thanks for the mention (LWT), I've never heard of it (us Americans, you know ;) )  ... and for giving opportunity to clarify same, i.e., anything in the stuffy vein of these stagy English (or whatever) costume dramas are most welcome. ;)

 

And thanks for the link, a fascinating little journey to beginnings. I've bookmarked that page.

 

--

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering how many quality TV programs the BBC has produced over the years, the question is this -

 

Why is BBC America so bloody horrible?

You ask a good question. I loved the Saturday morning lineup around 1999-2005, which included:

 

Changing Rooms (imho, better done than HGTV's Trading Spaces)

 

Ground Force, a garden makeover in 2 days programme, beautifully choreographed by Alan Titchmarsh&company(Charilie, Tommy and Handy Andy) and went all over the UK and beyond. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That jazz clip is brilliant!

 

Another series, of which I am quite fond is the original Mapp and Lucia, with Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales, and Nigel Hawthorne. Not BBC -- it was Channel 4, although it was remade last year by the BBC. I haven't seen the remake, which stars Anna Chancellor and Miranda Richardson.

Missed Mapp and Lucia, but I read all of the books over the last few years (even the ones not by E.F. Benson as I needed a Lucia fix!) and loved them so much I bought the series.  There are many days I'd love to disappear and live in that world, especially at Mallards.

 

Au resevoir!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You ask a good question. I loved the Saturday morning lineup around 1999-2005, which included:

 

Changing Rooms (imho, better done than HGTV's Trading Spaces)

 

Ground Force, a garden makeover in 2 days programme, beautifully choreographed by Alan Titchmarsh&company(Charilie, Tommy and Handy Andy) and went all over the UK and beyond. 

I miss Changing Rooms.  Somehow I just couldn't get interested in the American version.  By the way, it was fun to see Trinny show up as a party guest (in London) on an episode of The Real Housewives of NYC this season. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us