Monday, December 20, 2010

Downton Abbey and From Time to Time

Some weeks later than everyone else, I've been watching Downton Abbey, which was on British television in October/November.

I take a long time to get round to seeing things. For example, I watched ET last night for the first time ever (brilliant film, though I cried a lot, obviously).

Downton Abbey is a costume drama set just before the First World War. It's like one of those adaptations of a period novel that television does so well - - - except it isn't. It's written by Julian Fellowes and is completely new.

It had massive viewing figures when it was shown and I can see why. It's a lavishly-costumed answer to the highly-successful (ohhh I loved it) Seventies television series Upstairs Downstairs. Julian Fellowes has clearly researched everything that went on in 1912, including the sinking of the Titanic, and stirred it all together to make a gripping mishmash of elegant ladies, plotting servants, period detail and all topped off with Maggie Smith doing her excellent turn as Snotty Upper-Class Cow.

So it has the look and feel of a classy adaptation of a great novel - - but it's not. It's a Coronation Street of an earlier period. It's a very classy soap. Now I know that many people are dismissive of soaps but some soap writing is brilliant and some soap acting is also brilliant. Downton Abbey is not, perhaps, great drama - but it's so enjoyable! It's well-written, well-acted and great fun to watch.

Julian Fellowes recently wrote and directed the feature film From Time to Time, which was an adaptation from the Lucy Boston novel The Chimneys of Green Knowe.

Like Downton Abbey, it also stars Maggie Smith and the splendid Hugh Bonneville. For some reason which I don't understand, it hasn't been on national release. However, it is on television on Boxing Day, at 2.20pm on ITV. And our actress Helen Kennedy is in it as the nanny Nellie. Do watch it if you can!


Anonymous Milo said...

I really enjoyed Downton Abbey and I'm also looking forward to the new adaptation of Upstairs Downstairs.

Any Human Heart on Channel4 was also really very good indeed. Jim Broadbent, Matthew Macfadyen, Kim Cattrall, Gillian Anderson, Tom Hollander.

The other series I've been watching is Jimmy McGovern's Accused which is truly masterful. He also wrote The Street.

10:22 pm  
Blogger Daphne2 said...

I loved Downton Abbey not an adaptation of a great historical novel but, as you say, really good viewing. I agree with Milo that Accused has been brilliant and I just wish I had watched Any Human Heart.

6:32 am  
Anonymous Milo said...

@ Daphne2

It's coming out on DVD which is probably worth buying as it's 5-6 hours of super high qual drama.

And last night's Accused - the last in the series of 6 - was an absolute show-stopper. And to think they are just 1 hour long - and yet have that kind of impact! Amazing.

8:40 pm  

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