Posted in Britain, events, Sport, TV on June 22, 2009|
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It’s that time of year again: strawberries, rain, athletic young folk leaping about in whites, and the gentle thwack of balls. Tennis balls, that is. Yup, Wimbledon is here again. Two weeks of joy for tennis fans, two weeks of fuming and searching the tv listings for *anything* that isn’t tennis for those of a less sporting persuasion. But hey, it is only once a year.
For me, it’s two weeks of bliss that bring back happy memories of perching on Mum’s knee and watching the likes of Ilie Nastase and a young Jimmy Connors on a grainy black and white tv. These days it’s slightly less of an event, simply because thanks to cable television there’s more chance to catch up with our tennis heroes and heroines week in, week out. Back then, if you missed the action at Wimbledon, you’d have to wait a whole year before you saw tennis again, with the minor exception of the US Open final. Not the whole tournament, you understand – just the final.
So, for the next two weeks I may not be at my desk much. Instead you can find me camped in the living room with a tray of sandwiches, and perhaps a laptop, hooked up to the telly and imbibing tennis intravenously. As long as it doesn’t rain, of course. Because Wimbledon is played on grass, the matches have to be stopped if it rains, in case someone slips over and hurts themselves. This year, the All England Club have gone to vast expense to fit a roof over Centre Court, so that at least one match can continue if the heavens open. Normally the spectators hate rain because it plays havoc with their viewing schedule. This year, according to a BBC website survey, 80% actually want it to rain so they can see the new roof in action.
Including me, I’m ashamed to say.
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Shown on Channel Four this week, I sat down to watch “The Devil’s Whore” with a great deal of interest. My next novel is about the English Civil War and having invested so much research into it, I was curious to see how Channel Four dealt with it. Was it going to be something along the lines of “The Tudors” with bed-hopping and implausible history, or was it actually going to try to portray the English Civil War, a period that is rarely wheeled out on television.
Well, the jury is still out, really – part one was rather breathtakingly speedy. We started in “Whitehall 1638” where our “heroine” Angelica Fanshawe is about to be bedded by her new husband, cousin and childhood best friend) Harry Fanshawe. Then, with a brief glimpse of the King’s brutality to those who oppose him, we are whisked away to Edgehill, the first battle of the war (which actually took place four years later…) and there’s a great deal of building of sexual tension between the mercenary Edward Sexby (no, not made up!) and Angelica Fanshawe, and leading us along to show us why Angelica goes bad.
Without spoiling it more than I have, all I can say is that it was very enjoyable, although I hope the pace slows down a little – and the camera-work in particular needs a standing ovation. Like many Channel Four series and films, it’s a masterpiece of light and posing – almost every shot is an oil painting. (as you can see by the header alone) The clothes are spectacular, and if you are a period clothes whore like me, you’ll enjoy them particularly.
The battle scenes tried their best, bless ’em – but they couldn’t possibly give the feel of the slaughter without a film-style budget. The canon smoke was the wrong colour for a start, and they could have done a little better if they’d showed what went wrong at Edgehill and why – it would have explained a lot more to people who didn’t know the history. The aftermath of the battle was nicely done though, dead bodies everywhere, which is how it would have been.
Anyway – if you didn’t see it, make an effort to catch it, or look out for the DVD when it comes out, as it looks like it’s shaping up to be something rather special.
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Last night I watched Lost in Austen, which I enjoyed, although it surprised me that I did. It’s fairly obviously a clever twist on the Life on Mars idea, someone thrown into an environment that they weren’t expecting.
Basically if you didn’t see it (and there’s bound to be a repeat, or you can catch up on some online player) it’s about a girl who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice: she reads the book almost constantly and knows it intimately, almost line for line.
It was pretty good – ITV definitely seem to be stealing the crown when it comes to historical drama – the characters from P&P were pretty close to my imagining of them. I personally liked Darcy in this a lot, he very much fit into my image of him much more than Colin Firth ever did – but then I’m not a Darcy-phile (I’ll probably have my membership of many romance blogs rescinded as I admit this) and the only incarnation I’ve ever really liked was David Rintoul in the 1980 version. (see picture, right) This Darcy is very much like him, so that’s probably why I liked him. I was never convinced by Firth, he was FAR too soppy for my money.
Anyway, I did enjoy it and for the most part the 19th century characters kept in character and fitted the language nicely. There were a couple of slips that I noticed but nothing major. I don’t have the instant “eye” for period fashions so I can’t comment on that. What I majorly objected to though was that the main character, Miss Price, was set up to be the complete P&P geek, knew the book so intimately she says that the words almost spoke themselves when she was reading, and yet when she was thrown into the P&P world she seemed to behave like a complete ignoramus. I don’t mean not knowing how to dance a quadrille, but simply making the sort of blunders that you think she’d never make. Kissing Bingley, showing her pubes to Lydia (probably corrupting Lydia completely) that sort of thing. I realise that this is deliberate and set up for comic effect, but as the writers had tried so hard to convince us that she was the expert on the book it didn’t quite gel. It might have worked better if it was someone just coming to the book for the first time and loving it a great deal.
Anyway – if you didn’t see it, try and get hold of it, because it’s fun, and something interesting on the box for a change. I’m thinking I’ll probably put a post up after each episode to discuss.
And for a finisher: Which book would you love to be Lost In? And which would you really really NOT want to be?
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