Saturday, 18 January 2014

BBC drama Death Comes to Pemberley

It is the eve of the Darcys’ annual ball at Pemberley. Darcy and Elizabeth are relaxing with their guests after supper when the festivities are brought to an abrupt halt. A scream calls them to the window and a hysterical Lydia Bennet tumbles out of a carriage screaming murder. What follows is the sombre discovery of a dead man in Pemberley woods and a brother accused of murder. BBC’s new drama based on P.D. James’ follow-up to “Pride and Prejudice - Amazon

Before I start I feel I need to set the stage so to speak. I have never read the novel, Death comes to Pemberley and Downtown were going to be my T.V. Christmas highlights and after enduring nearly a year of my Austen obsessed madness; as a result of joining the Austenprose Bicentenary reading challenge, my children and husband were going to see what the hype was about!

Half an hour into the first episode and their attention was gone, with Ipads and phones at the ready I could hardly say I blamed them, the English press had said it was 'dreary' and they weren't far off. My embarrassment was most acute indeed!! It certainly did not help in making my obsession valid!! Not that I needed anyone's opinion on the matter, but my kids were going to finally engage in my passion and see what has drawn me like a moth to a flame for nearly a year. It did not reflect the pure genius that is Austen, (not that this was Austen's work), but my kids weren't going to make that distinction!!!

After swallowing my pride I continued to watch, my premise being anything Elizabeth and Darcy and I am there!!!!
I must say the characters were cast really well, albeit Elizabeth!! My husband  repeated throughout, much to my annoyance "I don't know why they chose her to play Elizabeth". After a while I'm pretty sure it was to wind me up and my Christmas spirit began to edge towards vexation! It wasn't like I hadn't asked myself that very same question!!!!
Heaven forbid, was Mr Darcy's famous "she's tolerable I suppose" beginning to have some merit!! I do not mean to be ungenerous but this Elizabeth did not seem like the lively witty Elizabeth I have come to know and love, were they were trying to pull the wool over my eyes?

Tom & Emilia
Colonel Fitzwilliam was played by one of my favourite actors Tom Ward, who stars in a British drama called Silent Witness alongside Emilia Fox , many of you will know her as Georgiana in the 1995 P&P and the voice for the Naxos Audiobook, I apologise, for I have digressed. Tom's acting was great but I was disappointed to find a less than jovial Colonel!! I suppose the book had written him that way, although I cannot be sure. I can only assume that because his brother had died and he was now to inherit the Matlock estate his priorities had changed, he had become Darcy's twin!!

Georgiana was delightful as always. In one of the scenes, she must tell her love interest that he is not to call anymore. Once he leaves, the utter despair she portrays was pure brilliance and the setting itself was a real eye opener to living with servants privy to so much. Crying her eyes out while two footman stand at their posts devoid of any emotion; personally I would want to go off somewhere to cry in private, but I suppose when you have grown up in such circumstances it must be natural. Similar to those reality shows where you think "surely they must realise the camera's are on". Maybe her despair was so acute she did not care, whatever the reason I loved the scene.


Lydia was great, not whiney just void of any propriety, Wickham too, was played well, not to mention quite handsome. Mr Bennet, oh how I love him and the humour that surrounds Mrs Bennet is always funny. In one of the scenes the doctor is at the door about to leave, he is telling Darcy that after administering some calming draughts Mrs Bennet seems much better, they are then interrupted by Mrs Bennet's shrill voice radiating from upstairs, the doctor rolls his eyes, discards his coat and heads towards the stairs, hilarious!!!


Matthew Rhys from US drama Brothers and Sisters actually portrayed  Darcy quite well (although it would have been nice if he was taller). What I love is when Darcy, after Six years of marriage is still portrayed much the same as he has always been. While Elizabeth is meant to have a influence on him, I believe it is her that brings the liveliness to the marriage. Inevitably I think he would change slightly but not dramatically. Some lovely flash backs which included Hunsford added to the story and also aided viewers who are ignorant to Elizabeth and Darcy's history. Although I do not think Anna Maxwell Martin was right for the role of Elizabeth, the distance that started to occur between Darcy and herself were portrayed to great effect. When Elizabeth spoke of her fears with Jane, that she felt Darcy was coming to regret their marriage I was truly convince and Anna won me over. As Darcy seemed to  become distant towards Elizabeth as the strain of the situation came between them, it was the added scenes which showed him watching her or stroking her cheek while she slept, that made this the Darcy we all love.

Darcy! who else

"Dreary" the press may have called it, but without reading the book I can only assume it was the book not the drama. To have three hours of viewing time without the greatness of the book shining through can only lead me to the conclusion the book was not great, but I fear such an assumption is unfounded as I have not read the book, therefore maybe the book did not have enough worthy content to justify three hours. I feel that there are many P&P fanfiction books out there (hint hint) that would have made for a better drama.

I will conclude that even though my hubby's comments jarred me, I had to agree this was not my favourite Elizabeth even if she was portraying a now older Elizabeth. The story seemed to drag on with not much to keep you gripped except the desire to know, just who killed Denny if it was not Wickham!

Overall I could not complain, the casting of the characters, the scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy and costumes to die for, kept me were I needed to be, in front of the T.V.

When Lydia runs outside to see her 'dear Wickham' being taken away, she seems to be in her nightgown and robe, whatever they were, they were absolutely gorgeous and I would love to get my hands on them!!!!!!!
Finally let us not forget the stunning Chatsworth House and it's beautiful grounds!

Death comes to Pemberley is out on DVD on the 10TH FEBRUARY!!

Will I get a copy? My first thoughts were no, but this is ELIZABETH AND DARCY!!! So my answer will undoubtedly have to be, YES Please!

I would love to hear any comments you have on the drama or the novel.