Monday, November 26, 2007

North and South: Episode Guide

Episode One

13:30 In the Mill. Margaret finds Thornton in the mill. ‘Get that woman out of here!’
25:45 Mr Thornton as a pupil ‘I believe your daughter and I have already met.’
35:53 Thornton at dinner
41:30 ‘Don’t worry mother, I’m in no danger from Miss Hale’
44:10 Thornton having tea at the Hales ‘I do know something of hard work’.
49:55 Thornton at the club window
54:50 ‘Do not try to tell me my business’

Episode Two

01:44 Thornton in the Mill
02:22 Discussion about strike
05:20 Margaret and Thornton at the Mill
10:55 ‘I wish you try to like Miss Hale, mother.’
15:30 ‘Can’t you get men from Ireland . . .’
19:19 At the window
21:35 Strike
27:15 The handshake ‘I have learnt northern ways’.
37:15 Irish workers
39:00 ‘Mr Thornton, face them like a man’.
45:35 Thinking about Margaret
46:21 Looking for Miss Hale
48:46 Walking outside the town
49:27 Without cravat
53:10 The proposal. ‘I don’t want to possess you, I wish to marry you because I love you.’

Episode Three

00:00 Leaving the house
02:34 Back with mother
08:30 Meeting on the street
19:08 A glimpse
22:50 At the Great Exhibition
30:00 On the Steps
37:36 At the train station
40:20 Scowling glance at mother’s funeral
50:35 Thornton and the policeman
54:40 Back at Mill

Episode Four
00:00 Getting a job
06:50 Loans and pool
12:50 Speculation
20:05 At his desk
24:00 Eating stew
25:40 Fanny’s wedding
29:00 Another death

30:58 ‘So you are going’.
32:04 ‘Look back, look back at me’
40:18 Bell and Thornton do business
45:10 Losing everything
47:18 Realisation ‘. . . he was her brother.’
52:06 Thornton down south

53:18 A business proposition on the train station

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pulsating Passages: North and South

All extracts taken from the edition by Oxford University Press (1992)

First Meeting

Mr Thornton was a good deal more surprised and discomfited than she. Instead of a quiet middle-aged clergyman, a young lady came forward with frank dignity, - a young lady of a different type to most of those he was in the habit of seeing . . . Mr Thornton was in habits of authority himself, bust she seemed to assume some kind of rule over him at once. He had been getting impatient at the loss of his time on market-day, the moment before she appeared, yet now he calmly took a seat at her bidding. (pp. 61-2)


She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist. Mr Thornton watched the re-placing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention than he listened to her father. It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently, until it tightened her soft flesh; and then to mark the loosening – the fall. He could almost have exclaimed – ‘There it goes again!’ There was so little left to be done after he arrived at the preparation for tea, that he was almost sorry the obligation of eating and drinking came so soon to prevent him watching Margaret. (p. 79)

Disagreeing about the Strike

‘Pray don’t go into more similes, Margaret; you have led us off once already,’ said her father, smiling, yet uneasy at the thought that they were detaining Mr Thornton against his will, which was a mistake; for he rather liked it, as long as Margaret would talk, although what she said only irritated him. (p. 122)

The Thorntons on Margaret

‘Mother’, said he, stopping, and bravely speaking out the truth, ‘I wish you would like Miss Hale.’
‘Why?’ asked she, startled by his earnest, yet tender manner, ‘You’re never thinking of marrying her? – a girl without a penny.’
‘She would never have me,’ said he, with a short laugh. (p. 142)

Margaret’s attention was thus called to her host; his whole manner, as master of the house, and entertainer of his friends, was so straightforward, yet simple and modest, as to be thoroughly dignified. Margaret thought she had never seen him to so much advantage. . . He was regarded by them [his fellow mill owners] as a man of great force of character; of power in many ways. There was no need to struggle for their respect. He had it, and he knew it; and the security of this gave a fine grand quietness to his voice and ways, which Margaret had missed before. (pp.162-3)

At the Demo

‘Now kill me, if it is your brutal will. There is no woman to shield me here. You may beat me to death – you will never move me from what I have determined upon – not you! He stood amongst them, which arms folded in precisely the same attitude as he had been on the steps.

[. . .]

He bore her into the dining room, and laid her on the sofa there; laid her down softly, and looking on her pure white face, the sense of what she was to him came upon him so keenly that he spoke it in his pain.
‘Oh, my Margaret – my Margaret! No one can tell what you are to me! Dead – cold as you lie there, you are the only woman I ever loved Oh, Margaret – Margaret!’ (p. p.180)

The Proposal

‘One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.’ (p. 196)

The Aftermath

His greatest comfort was in hugging his torment; and in feeling, as he had indeed said to her, that though she might despise him, contemn him, treat him with her proud sovereign indifference, he did not change one whit. She could not make him change. He loved her, and would love her; and defy her, and this miserable bodily pain. (p. 207)

Meeting Her

He thought that he disliked seeing one who had mortified him so keenly; but he was mistaken. It was a stinging pleasure to be in the room with her, and feel her presence. But he was no great analyser of his motives, and was mistaken, as I have said. (p. 239)

He spoke as if the answer were a matter of indifference to him. But it was not so. For all his pain, he longed to see the author of it. Although he hated Margaret at times, when he thought of that gentle familiar attitude and all the attendant circumstances, he had a restless desire to renew her picture in his mind – a longing for the very atmosphere she breathed. He was in the Charybdis of passion, and must perforce circle and circle ever nearer round the fatal centre. (p. 270)


Miss Hale might love another – was indifferent and contemptuous to him – but he would yet do her faithful acts of service of which she should never know. He might despise her, but the woman whom he had once loved should be kept from shame; and shame it would be to pledge herself to a lie in a public court, or otherwise to stand and acknowledge he reason for desiring darkness rather than light. (p. 280)

On the Street

Just before Mr Thornton came up to Mrs Boucher’s door, Margaret came out of it. She did not see him; and he followed her for several yards, admiring her light and easy walk, and her tall and graceful figure. But, suddenly, this simple emotion of pleasure was tainted, poisoned by jealousy. He wished to overtake her, and speak to her, to see how she would receive him, now she must know he was aware of some other attachment. (p.327)

Bell and Thornton

‘Beautiful creature indeed! Do you speak of her as you would of a horse or a dog?’

Mr Thornton’s eyes glowed like red embers.

‘Mr Bell,’ said he, ‘before you speak so, you should remember that all men are not as free to express what they feel as you are. Let us speak of something else.’ For though his heart leaped up, as at a trumpet call to every word that Mr bell had said, and though he knew that what he had said would henceforward bind the thought of the old Oxford Fellow closely up with the most precious things of his heart, yet he would not be forced into any expression of what he felt towards Margaret. (p. 361).

Margaret leaves

And at the remembrance of her taunting words, his brow grew stern, though his heart beat with longing love. ‘No!’ said he, ‘I put it to the touch once, and I lost it all. Let her go, - with her stony heart, and her beauty; - how set and terrible her look is now, for all her loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than mine. Let her go!’

And there was no tone of regret, or emotion of any kind in the voice with which he said good-bye; and the offered hand was taken with a resolute calmness, and dropped as carelessly as if it had been a dead and withered flower. But none in his household saw Mr Thornton again that day. He was busily engaged; or so he said. (pp.369-70)

The Truth

‘It was her brother,’ said Mr Thornton to himself. ‘I am glad. I may never see her again; but it is a comfort – a relief – to know that much. I knew she could not be unmaidenly; and yet I yearned for conviction. Now I am glad!’ (p. 423)

A Business Proposition

Still lower went the head; more closely hidden was the face, almost resting on the table before her. He came close to her. He knelt by her side, to bring her face to a level with her ear; and whispered – panted out the words: -
‘Take care. – If you do not speak – I shall claim you as my own in some strange presumptuous way. – send me away at once, if I must go; - Margaret! - ’

Friday, November 09, 2007

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

It is time to turn from the Regency period to the mid-nineteenth century, where breeches make way for long dark trousers but there is no lack of romantic heroes to fantasise over.

Now we all loved Mr Thornton as played by Richard Armitage in the adaptaion of North and South on BBC One a few years ago. In homage to the adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford that will soon be hitting our screens, a moment by moment guide will soon be appearing to his movements in that series. But first some background to North and South.

North and South was published in instalments in 1853-4. The main setting of the industrial north follows Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel Mary Barton in 1848, which was also set in an industrial mill town. Mary Barton was immensely popular but also attracted wide criticism as it was felt that Gaskell was too hard on the mill owners. Gaskell tried to counter that criticism in North and South through the character of hardworking and tough mill owner John Thornton. The relationship between John Thornton and Margaret Hale represents the meeting of the industrial north and rural south but is also a feisty story of the awakening of love for each other in both. In some ways it is another version of Pride and Prejudice with both attracted to each other and both having excessive pride and, Margaret in particular, having a great number of prejudices. Unusually, unlike Jane Austen with Darcy or Charlotte Bronte with Mr Rochester, Gaskell presents Thornton's emotions in the relationship as much as Margaret's.

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) famously began writing at the suggestion of her husband after the death of her only son. Her novels are all set in the north of England, mainly in the industrial northwest, and they explore complex social issues, family relationships and love affairs.

Watch this space for the 'pulsating passages' from the novel . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If Billie Piper Had a Peck of Austen Roles, Why Pick Fanny?

Billie Piper in a bodice--blah, blah, blah... Why does anyone think they can infuse Mansfield Park with the remotest appeal either to the milk-toast characters or the preachy plot? Even Jane Austen herself could not. Well Hello Mr. Ritson, I did not see you come in.

In truth, I dragged myself through the entire film without the teensiest care for Edmund, Fanny or the rest of the gang until the very end. It was in the last five minutes or so that I realized I had been cultivating a slow growing fancy that was beginning to burn for one Blake Ritson. He gave Edmund’s transformation from fool for Mary Crawford (Haylee Atwell) to fool for Fanny more plausibility than it deserves. I believed that he had a true awakening of feelings and so did I.

Talk about low profiles though, I could not even find his birthday out here in cyberspace. The best I could do is find he has/had a girlfriend actress Hattie Morahan. JANE CONNECTION: Miss Morahan will be playing Elinor Dashwood in the soon- to-be- released Sense and Sensibility. We will keep a look out for more Ritson and Miss Morahan as well.

Back to Billie for a moment; she was very sweet and believable as the prim Miss Price. I just would have rather seen her as Lydia Bennet in a different Austen more suited to her vivacity (and figure).

Jemma Redgrave continues to be one of my favorites but can I admit here that I was very disappointed that at one year older than me she was playing the matriarch? Where the hell does the time go? I could not relate to this casting as l could to Allison Steadman, for example.

I don’t wish to diminish the efforts of the rest of the cast by not mentioning them individually but in truth, I think all was played well with the material given. Okay maybe a shout out to Michelle Ryan aka Zoe Slater who is as cute as ever. But everyone needs to remember this lesson: just because it is Jane Austen does not make it infallible.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

ITV's Austen Season

Yes – she's back on television. ITV's Austen season begins with Billie Piper as Fanny Price this Sunday (18 March) at 9pm. The Mansfield Park dramatisation is by Maggie Wadey and it promises to make the rather dullard hero and heroine racier and raunchy. It is filmed in North Yorkshire at Newby Hall and apparently Billie romps for England but Blake Ritson (left) looks gloweringly sexy.

Mansfield Park is followed by Northanger Abbey with a script by Andrew 'Costume Porn King' Davies on March 25 and starring Felicity Jones. This script has been in a dusty cupboard of ITV's while they concentrated on quality television, such as celebrity pick your spots programmes. Then Persuasion (my favourite Austen) with Sally Hawkins fills the breeches slot on April 1. A rerun of the 1996 Emma will follow.

The cover of Radio Times shows the three leading ladies – Billie Piper, Felicity Jones and Sally Hawkins – in demure regency (and yet busty) splendour. Where are the men in their breeches? Pretty frocks are all very well, but where are those boots and oh so tightly clad thighs and bottoms when you need them? At least Rupert Penry-Jones looks dashing as Captain Wentworth on his horse.

We have something to aid the fact Dr Who returns on 31 March and so my Saturday nights will be dominated yet again by the Tardis.

ITV's fantastic website is here. Take part in the seduction survey!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Miss Austen and Samuel West

Samuel West can give me a cringing panic attack faster than a bag of snakes ever could. Well, that is when I watch him playing the attractive yet dastardly baronet-to-be Mr Elliot in Nick Dear’s 1995 adaptation of Persuasion. Crikey, if I’m not out of my skin before Anne Elliot is finally out of her seat in the music recital trying to stop Captain Wentworth from leaving. As West fawns over Anne and sappily “proposes” I can hardly bear the torture of Wentworth against the wall misunderstanding what he is seeing. I want to throttle Mr Elliot when he comes into the tea shop with the damn umbrella at Anne’s disposal dispersing any pretence she had to put herself in debt to Captain Wentworth. Later, in the final scenes of the film, when Anne admits she hasn’t had time to turn her mind to Mr Elliot’s offer “to flatter and adore her all her life,” my soul sings. Okay well, maybe my soul doesn’t sing but I am damn happy to see him so soundly put down. Who wouldn’t be? Wickedness always seems more horrid when it is hidden beneath a cloak of pretty wrapping such as West.

Apparently, Sam comes by his talent for Austen rightly. In 1952 his mother Prunella Scales at the pretty age of 20 played Lydia Bennett in Cedric Wallis’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It seems to be one of her earliest filmed roles if not the earliest. Also playing in this production as Mr Collins was Sam’s paternal grandfather Lockwood West. Though Scales was to marry Lockwood’s son the Tim in 1963, she wouldn’t meet him for another 8 years. It was that year (1960) that Timothy West himself appeared in one of his earliest filmed roles completing the foundation of Wests as Austen characters. He played Charles Hayter in the first mini-series of Persuasion.

Throughout the years, the larger genre of costume drama has been privileged by many performances by this talented family. Look for both Sam and his mother in Merchant and Ivory’s Howard’s End (1992). Sam, of course, plays Leonard Bast in a much more sympathetic if not wholly diametric role to Mr Elliot. Also, Scales was in Andrew Davies’ 1996 Emma. And way back in 1975 both father and son played in the mini-series Edward the King. Timothy West plays the title role while Sam plays the king at age 5.

Timothy was last seen in the Beeb’s Bleak House (2005). Scales will next be seen in The Shell Seekers (2006) and Sam can be seen in the latest Inspector Linley Mysteries: The Chinese Walls (2006).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sensational Sensibilities

Minute by minute guide to the appearance on screen of Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) and Willoughby (Greg Wise). I know who my favourite is, but who is yours?

08:43 First appearance of Edward Ferrars in the room.
09: 50 Edward Ferrars attempts to tell his sister to be nice.
10:40 Margaret is hiding and Edward talks nonsense to draw her out.
12:48 Fighting with wooden swords.
15:25 Elinor and Edward talking about ‘quiet of a private life’.
16:09 Elinor and Edward horse riding and discuss occupations.
22:50 Announce moving to Devonshire over dinner, Edward stunned.
23:28 Gut wrenching scene in stable – Edward tries to tell Elinor something.
31:00 Colonel Brandon on horseback. Hears Marianne.
34:05 Cutting reeds – Brandon provides a knife.
34:28 Brandon and Sir John cleaning guns.
35:18 Playing bowls – Mrs Jennings goes too far.
40:22 Willoughby on horseback – the gallant hero. Removes shoe and carries Marianne through the rain.
43:58 Brandon brings flowers but everyone is waiting for Willoughby.
45:21 Brandon and Willoughby meet.
45:39 Willoughby visits Marianne.
49:30 Marianne draws silhouette of Willoughby, Brandon watching.
50:50 Brandon issues an invitation.
51:58 Brandon and Elinor discuss Marianne.
55:20 Brandon called away from the party.
55:40 Willoughby bitches about Brandon.
58:10 Willoughby asks for an interview alone.
59:12 Willoughby sent away by Lady Allen. Leaves Marianne distraught.
110:49 Colonel Brandon visits at London instead of Willoughby.
117:18 Bump into Willoughby at the Ball.
125:11 Brandon to accompany them home and relates story to Elinor of Willoughby’s seduction of his ward.
131:19 Edward Ferrars visits Elinor (and Lucy by accident).
136:35 Lucy and Edward’s engagement
138:48 Brandon has a proposal regarding Edward Ferrars.
140:10 Elinor tells Edward about Brandon’s proposal
143:18 Brandon on horseback.
144:02 Brandon helps ladies out of carriage.
146:50 Brandon looks for Marianne.
147:27 Brandon carries Marianne back in through the rain.
148:51 Waiting for the doctor.
150:02 Brandon ‘What can I do?’
154:19 Mother and Brandon appear.
154:44 Marianne thanks Brandon
155:30 Brandon reading poetry at Barton Cottage.
202:00 Edward Ferrars visits Barton Cottage.
204:52 Elinor makes ‘that noise’ at not married and all leave the room.
206:57 Marianne’s wedding.
207:25 Willoughby looks on.

I recommend for further reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson with Photographs by Clive Coote (London: Bloomsbury, 1995)