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The Jewel in the Crown


slaytonf
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Just saw an ad for this magnificent series.  Apparently, PBS will be showing it, starting Sunday.  It used to be on YouTube, but no longer.  So don't miss the opportunity.  A great adaptation of a great series of books--known as the Raj Quartet.  Pshaw, you say, a mini-series made for British TV?  Why would that be of any importance to people on this site?  Well, if anyone cares about good filmmaking, superior acting, and literate scriptwriting, you will care about this.  Not only is it absolutely one of the best of anything done on TV, it stands above most of what was made for theatrical release.

 

For those unfamiliar with the work, The Jewel in the Crown charts the final decade or so of the British rule in India, not from the perspective of the leaders (as in Gandhi), but from that of average and unimportant people.  It's a chronicle of cruel injustice, noble aspirations, perverse depravity, uncritical adherence to tradition, unintentional and purposeful misinterpretation of actions and words.  In short, a portrait of humanity.  Grand, provoking, scathing, at the same time both uncompromising and tolerant in it's evaluation of events and characters.  For many of the characters you are compelled by their plight (if they have one), and infuriated at their defects.  There are characters that you love to hate, and others that you just love.

 

It's hard to overpraise this series.  I'll say it again, don't miss it.

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Anytime I see Timothy Piggot-Smith his character from this series comes immediately to mind. His was a chilling portrayal of one of the most evil people on film. A job well done.

 

It was great television. I caught it a few years ago on Netflix discs after having first seen it back in the 80's. Previously I had watched "Danger UXB" so it sold me on British television and "The Jewel In The Crown" came out of that time.

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Great idea to post...there are quite a few great BBC series to watch.  This is definitely a "jewel in the crown" if you will graciously forgive the pun.  Among others was the "Churchills" a series of the family prior to Winston which was absolutely fantastic.  Don't get me started or I will bore you to death with my likes in regards to BBC series.  ITV did some great series as well...one was "Family at War"  which  to me was mesmerizing.

 

However, I am not a fan of Downton Abbey.  If you want to see the pre-cursor to this series and the better one I recommend Upstairs, Downstairs.  

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Well it must be on your local PBS station as I can find no scheduling for "The Jewel in the Crown" in January on Rocky Mountain PBS in Colorado.  I read the novel plus watched the series 30 years ago when they both came out.  Most excellent series.  I'm jealous that your PBS station is showing it and mine is not.  So very many great Masterpiece Theater presentations over the years that I would love  to see again.

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Well it must be on your local PBS station as I can find no scheduling for "The Jewel in the Crown" in January on Rocky Mountain PBS in Colorado.  I read the novel plus watched the series 30 years ago when they both came out.  Most excellent series.  I'm jealous that your PBS station is showing it and mine is not.  So very many great Masterpiece Theater presentations over the years that I would love  to see again.

 

 

Sorry to hear that.  Public TV stations obviously can pick and choose shows.  You might be able to catch it online.  KPBS has video on demand.  I don't see it now in their catalog, but once they start showing it, it might become available:

 

http://video.kpbs.org

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The Jewel in the Crown is one of the greats, perhaps along with Brideshead Revisited, the two top shows of that type, IMHO.   I saw one of the actors from Jewel on stage in London in October -- Nicholas Le Prevost. He came into the series later on, as Nigel Rowan, but it was a pretty big role. He was in 6 episodes. Here he is in Jewel and in The Rivals (with Gemma Jones), which I saw in October 2014:

 

JE43_150.jpg

TheRivalsArcola2014NicholasLePrevostGemm

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The Jewel in the Crown is one of the greats, perhaps along with Brideshead Revisited, the two top shows of that type, IMHO.   I saw one of the actors from Jewel on stage in London in October -- Nicholas Le Prevost. He came into the series later on, as Nigel Rowan, but it was a pretty big role. He was in 6 episodes. Here he is in Jewel and in The Rivals (with Gemma Jones), which I saw in October 2014:

 

JE43_150.jpg

TheRivalsArcola2014NicholasLePrevostGemm

 

The Rivals, a Ben Johnson play?

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Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed.

 

Sir Winston Churchill

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Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed.

 

Sir Winston Churchill

Poke, poke.

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And a more recent U.K. Prime Minister on the most recent Indian election:

 

"British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday said that he congratulated Narendra Modi for winning more votes than any other politician in the universe during his phone call after the "extraordinary" Indian election.

"I won't forget my conversation with Prime Minister Modi congratulating him on his victory. I picked up the phone and said, 'It's great to be talking to someone who just got more votes than any other politician anywhere in the universe'," he said."

 

I wish we had such good turnout in the U.S., instead of trying to squelch voting rights!

 

Another great UK series on India was Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy. Gandhi is a major character in that series. I find his (Gandhi's) character much more compelling in the television series than in the rather noble but stodgy Academy Award-winning film!

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Sorry -- The Rivals is by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who also wrote The School for Scandal.

 

The title sounded familiar.  I've never seen the play, or read it.  I must have encountered it reading about Sheridan and The School for Scandal.

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The title sounded familiar.  I've never seen the play, or read it.  I must have encountered it reading about Sheridan and The School for Scandal.

The Rivals is a hilarious play. You may have heard of one of the characters -- the famous Mrs. Malaprop, who gets words wrong, hence the term "malapropisms." Like when she says, "All men are Bavarians" (but means barbarians).

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The Rivals is a hilarious play. You may have heard of one of the characters -- the famous Mrs. Malaprop, who gets words wrong, hence the term "malapropisms." Like when she says, "All men are Bavarians" (but means barbarians).

Yes, that must be where I know it from.

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I've read the Raj Quartet twice and coincidentally am currently reading Book Three (The Towers of Silence) again. I love the books and the PBS Series, which I have in my rather sparse DVD collection. (No subtitles, a slight bummer, some of conversation is difficult to understand)

 

Dame Peggy Ashcroft is stupendous as Barbie Batchelder. She captures the heart and soul of this character. Barbie is an old missionary who comes across to others as rather doddy and an incorrigible motor mouth. No one really likes her (except Sarah and of course Mabel). Novelist Paul Scott has however created a marvelous character out of Barbie and as he does with all the major characters of this superb story, gives such depth to her that Barbie (despite all her shortcomings) comes across as not only likable (to me) but rather fascinating to boot. She doesn't appear in Book I and as a minor character in Book II...but Book III starts brilliantly with Barbie and establishes her as a major character. Peggy does her wonderful justice. All the characters are so well drawn and so compelling that one feels that these were real people. Full disclosure and at the risk of bordering on the psychotic side, I actually miss these people sometimes, even though they are only out of a book.

 

What a daunting task for Tim Piggot-Smith to be saddled with the most consistently prevalent character (and probably the most complex and the most important) in the entire story. He nails it. He plays Ronald Merrick and even though he might be characterized as evil (as was done in an earlier post), I blanch a little at the reference ... Outside of outright allegory I'm not a fan of such words to describe people. Interestingly, the author tends to go less inside the character---his thoughts etc.---but lets us see him through his actions as well as what others say about him, which yes, can both be rather nasty at times. But rather than someone iconically evil, he is still a recognizable human type, tortured by ambition being run by an abject sense of inferiority (mostly class specific rather than the usual and common concerns, I think). But honestly, if I'm an actor and I am offered the part of Ronald Merrick I might experience a few butterflies. What a responsibility!

 

For those who may not realize, the PBS Series took the title of the first novel, The Jewel in the Crown, and applied this title to the entire story, which stretches through all four novels. So if you remember once reading The Jewel in the Crown, know that there are three more to go, oh lucky you!

 

Thanks Slaytonf, for this wonderful heads up. How great to revive this wonderful series, originally done I believe in 1984. It is oh so sad that author Paul Scott (1920-1978) did not quite live long enough to see this wonderful show. I think he would have approved.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Scott_%28novelist%29

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I don't see any sign that "Jewel" is going to be on PBS in NYC on Sunday. I'll check further -- we also get the Long Island and New Jersey PBS stations.  I planned to buy the DVDs at one time, but it was famous for being a poor transfer, so I didn't.

 

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I don't see any sign that "Jewel" is going to be on PBS in NYC on Sunday. I'll check further -- we also get the Long Island and New Jersey PBS stations.  I planned to buy the DVDs at one time, but it was famous for being a poor transfer, so I didn't.

 

It's scheduled in my area, Southern Cal, 6pm PST.

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6pm PST = 9pm EST, which is when we have a little thing called "Downton Abbey" on NY PBS. 

 

Maybe the PBS station in your era won't air Jewel because they don't want to cut in on Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the 92nd St Y. DA has degenerated to the mass audience so they don't care about that.

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Maybe the PBS station in your era won't air Jewel because they don't want to cut in on Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the 92nd St Y. DA has degenerated to the mass audience so they don't care about that.

I found it on Long Island PBS, 10pm on Monday.  Since we get three PBS stations in this region, they're not supposed to have too much duplication, except obviously the new stuff, which they tend to show at different times.

 

So glad for this thread, so that I can watch "Jewel" again!

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 It is oh so sad that author Paul Scott (1920-1978) did not quite live long enough to see this wonderful show. I think he would have approved.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Scott_%28novelist%29

 

I think so, too.  While the series can't reproduce the remarkable fiction of Paul Scott, it does capture the feel of the work, and does a remarkable job translating the characters.

 

 

I don't see any sign that "Jewel" is going to be on PBS in NYC on Sunday. I'll check further -- we also get the Long Island and New Jersey PBS stations.  I planned to buy the DVDs at one time, but it was famous for being a poor transfer, so I didn't.

 

Keep your fingers crossed.  PBS stations that air it may offer it as video on demand.  That way you can avoid conflicts with other programs you like.  But once you start watching this, you may be looking to get those other programs on demand, and catch The Jewel in the Crown on broadcast.

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I think so, too.  While the series can't reproduce the remarkable fiction of Paul Scott, it does capture the feel of the work, and does a remarkable job translating the characters.

 

Agree completely! Have you read Birds of Paradise (1962) by Paul Scott. It predates Raj by about a decade and is written in the same mandarin style of the latter books. I'm somewhat of a devotee but I confess it's rather complex but nevertheless fascinating. If you have thoughts on this, please guard them for the moment. I'm going to try and revive a reading thread that has been neglected, something I have wanted to do anyway. It is buried away somewhere and in need of excavation. I don't want to derail this thread..let's reserve it for all things Raj....and I am hoping that enough of us will follow along the progress of the story on PBS and perhaps have a conversation about it right here as it goes along...I hope.

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I had hoped to see Tim Pigott-Smith in a new play, Charles III, in London recently. But he broke his collar bone and was out of the production, so I didn't get a ticket. He may be back in now, and he will also come to NY with the play, I think. I have seen him on stage several times, most notably as Leontes in The Winter's Tale. He also had an important guest role in one episode of "Downton": as a very stubborn obstetrician.  He's a fine actor.

 

I travel to London a lot, and think of "Jewel..." whenever I have one of those uniquely British bacon sandwiches or cold chicken and salad.

 

Btw, when you watch the first episode, you'll see the great and venerable Indian actress Zohra Sehgal, who plays Lili Chatterji in the early episodes. Ms. Sehgal died this past July, at the age of 102. I posted an obit here at the time.

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I had hoped to see Tim Pigott-Smith in a new play, Charles III, in London recently. But he broke his collar bone and was out of the production, so I didn't get a ticket. He may be back in now, and he will also come to NY with the play, I think. I have seen him on stage several times, most notably as Leontes in The Winter's Tale. He also had an important guest role in one episode of "Downton": as a very stubborn obstetrician.  He's a fine actor.

 

I travel to London a lot, and think of "Jewel..." whenever I have one of those uniquely British bacon sandwiches or cold chicken and salad.

 

Btw, when you watch the first episode, you'll see the great and venerable Indian actress Zohra Sehgal, who plays Lili Chatterji in the early episodes. Ms. Sehgal died this past July, at the age of 102. I posted an obit here at the time.

 

Has Art Malik, the fine actor who played Harri Kumar, been in any plays you've seen?

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