Saturday 5 February 2011

BBC Books Season

great expectations david lean Hallelujah! The BBC has discovered books. Long after the literary landscape on UK terrestrial TV was abandoned bar Richard and Judy's choices, finally we have some potentially decent programmes on the way.

Some of the programmes have been announced, others will appear over the next twelve months. How it'll develop is difficult to say -- you're always worried that the Beeb will make its tenth version of a Jane Austen and pretend it's a documentary. Anyway, let's see what's on the horizon (lower case h of course).

Kick off on Saturday Feb 5th, BBC2 with a four parter presented by Sebastian Faulks on great literary characters. Hmm: to include Sherlock Holmes, Mr Darcy, James Bond and Becky Sharp. Mr Darcy eh - at least the stock footage won't cost anything. Lo and behold, Mr Faulks has taken a break from writing fiction that's read only by the Hampstead set to write a book about - wait for it - great literary characters. Read an extract about Jeeves in the Daily Telegraph.

Oh dear. I was planning to blog on Wodehouse in the near future - this could have given me a standard to aspire to (or to which to aspire, as Jeeves would say). Faulks has given us a review Lite with a singular failure to appreciate the comedy of manners depicted by Wodehouse. And, Seb, it is manners, not rules, which govern Jeeves' behaviour.

Still, I'll tune in at 9pm and hope that the great man of letters manages some insight into his other selections. If he finds anything new to say about Mr Darcy I'll not post about all the times his in-laws have reviewed his novels in the broadsheets ...

Next programme on the list is The Crimson Petal and the White, an adaptation of (I quote from the Telegraph) "Michel Faber’s acclaimed 2002 novel about Sugar, a teenage Victorian prostitute who, via a relationship with a rich businessman, climbs out of the gutter and into London society." This stars Romola Garai, Richard E Grant and Gillian Anderson. Oh dear, oh dear.

Coming thick and fast we have an adaptation of Women in Love - there's a surprise. All we need now is some Dickens and, oh look - Dickens. Bicentenary next year so two birds with one stone. Great Expectations and Edwin Drood - what a novelty. Why not just show the classic 1946 David Lean film - magnificent work.

Let's have a bit of Ishwerwood - and who can play him - yes, Doctor Who. All we need now is a playfully pretentious effort from Alan Yentob (or pretentiously playful - he's nothing if not versatile). Oh goody. Yentob on Tolstoy.

Okay, we're playing it very safe and giving jobs to the boys - still some potentially good stuff in there. Bar Richard E Grant of course, an actor who makes Hugh Grant look like Oscar material. At least the botox bitch of daytime TV isn't around. No, wait: "My Life in Books (BBC Two): Daytime discussion show in which Anne Robinson, presenter of Weakest Link, talks to authors, academics and other well-known personalities about their favourite books, and how those books relate to their own experiences."

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I can hardly raise the enthusiasm to have a pop at the inevitable Stephen Fry. He'll be presenting a five-part documentary about the development throughout history of the written and spoken word. 140 characters per episode, I presume. OMG DCKNS FAB LOL.

On that note, I leave you, exhorting you to buy the following set of David Lean films, to play whenever Anne Robinson appears. Set comprises The Sound Barrier, Hobson's Choice, Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Madeleine, The Passionate Friends, This Happy Breed and In Which We Serve. Glorious stuff! And a few authors behind them who could teach Sebastian Faulks a thing or two.

Reviewed at David Lean Centenary Collection

BBC podcasts, book-related These may be restricted to certain countries - blame the Tories for that!


Maxine said...

A bit harsh on Sebastian Faulks me thinks :) I quite liked Birdsong.

And what's this? Ribbing into National Treasure Stephen Fry..... maybe he's getting a bit like Terry Wogan was in the early 90's? By the time I left the UK old Woge's was on everything. What's he up to these days?

I miss the BBC, Aussie TV programmers haven't got a clue.

Paul said...

Terry's back on the radio I think, and gets wheeled out once a year for the Eurovision Song Contest - to his credit, he takes the mickey out of it I'm told.

We only get Aussie soaps over here - hence we have a generation of young adult females named Kylie. Cable has just finsished showing Masterchef Australia series 1 - which I enjoyed apart from the fact they couldn't go five minutes without weeping hysterically - I'd be a bit nervous about eating in an Australiab restaurant now.

Maxine said...

Yeah good old Neighbours.... not!I haven't watched that since I emigrated. We're watching the good old Brit comedies on digital - long live George & Mildred!!

Online Book Shop said...

The '80 was the golden age for the BBC and books. I wish they would rerun Poldark or Duchess of Duke Street in the US.

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