Friday, 21 September 2012

Edwardians Everywhere


So Downton Abbey is back for another series.

In the interests of marital harmony, we watch Inspector George Gently ‘live’ whilst we eat supper after church on Sunday night, and I record DA for another time when Bob is busy. I am not too bothered, as I also think Martin Shaw is a great actor, and I can catch up with Hugh Bonneville later.

maggie smith downtonI really enjoy DA, it is mindless escapism, and just like “Upstairs Downstairs” used to be in its original incarnation in the 1970’s. Gorgeous costumes, lovely settings, good dialogue

And I adore Maggie Smith’s ascerbic lines – I think Julian Fellowes has very successfully crossed Oscar Wilde with Dorothy Parker for some brilliant ripostes and bon mots. No I am not 100% convinced of its historical veracity – but actually I don’t care – it is entertainment!

bencumb parades end

I know that Benedict Cumberbatch has been very scathing about Downton - fortunately Julian Fellowes has reacted most graciously to BC’s ‘atrocious’ comment [here] It is not really fair of people to compare DA with BC’s current offering of “Parade’s End” The latter is much more demanding- nay hard-going - to watch.

With DA you can nip out to go to the loo, or pop the kettle on, and not miss too much. With PE I find I have to concentrate on every scrap of plotline and dialogue. But I am utterly gripped by it. The story is about a civil servant, Christopher Tietjen [played by BC] and his wife Sylvia [Rebecca Hall]  I confess I have not read anything  by Ford Madox Ford [what a daft name – not his original moniker. At least Jerome Klapka Jerome was saddled with his title from birth] Therefore I do not know if the wonderful lines are from FMF or Tom Stoppard’s adaptation.


Tietjen's comparison of the noise on the Western Front to a "wet canvas being shaken out by a giant" is brilliantly evocative

– and I am still grinning about his wife’s description of her rival, the enthusiastic young suffragette Miss Wannop, as “that scrub-faced ladies champion of the Regular Bowel Movement”

And what a stellar cast- Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Miranda Richardson, Geoffrey Palmer...

The final instalment is tonight [if you didn’t watch the first four, don’t bother with this, it will probably make no sense whatsoever] but thus far I have enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

The Paradise  2The BBC’s next costume drama will hit our screens next week – “The Paradise” – but that is set 30 years earlier in one of the first British department stores.

I suspect I shall probably appreciate ITV’s “Mr Selfridge” in the new year a little more. That is another piece set in the Edwardian era. More servants and shopping…

My grandmother was lady’s maid to Lady Gamage – wife of Lord Gamage of Gamage’s – the other big London Department store, situated in Holborn.


Allegedly it was Harry Gordon Selfridge who coined the phrases “Only X shopping days till Christmas” and “The Customer is Always Right”

I suspect I am watching too much TV at the minute! And when not ensconced in the Edwardian Era and WW1, I am stuck in WW2 and its aftermath [The Wartime Farm, and The Bletchley Circle]

wartime farmTheBletchleyCircle

What’s your current favourite TV series?


  1. I was able to watch Wartime Farm and Bletchley Circle last night whilst tackling the ironing heap, and I enjoyed Downton last weekend. I have tried Parade's End, but couldn't get into it at all. I also got the book, because it looked worth reading, but found the first couple of pages very hard going and put it down. I will try again!

  2. I love most historical dramas. Right now we have so little that is any good on TV that I'm thankful for anything respectable. We are watching Doc Martin for the second time around. We often watch what ever is offered on Public TV around 9:)) p.m. Sunday evenings -- including Inspector Lewis.

    1. I think Lewis is good too - wondering if, when HE retires, they will do one called 'Hathaway'!

  3. My current tv programs (when I get a chance to indulge) are;
    999 what is your emergancy? - 4OD
    Wartime Farm - Iplayer
    Downton Abbey - ITV player
    and of course my little bit of Jezza!!!
    x x x

  4. I like Lewis too - and Inspector Frost, and even Wire in the Blood [unless it is particularly gory!]...

  5. I too am enjoying Downton and Wartime Farm. I also enjoy Who Do You Think You Are ?, and Australia's Biggest Loser( Families). Those are the only programmes I make time to watch. J has really enjoyed George Gently too, so K and I watch Downton on catch-up and skip through the adverts. I shall probably watch Strictly when that returns in a few weeks.

  6. I loved Parade's End - so beautiful. I have tried really hard with Downton - really I have but it is just so preposterous. (In Mr Cumberbatch's defence by the way, he did say that he was misquoted and that his dad was in Downton so he would never seriously have a go at it) Fave programmes are Great British Bake Off, Dr Who and Strictly in a few weeks when the idiots have gone.

  7. Oh, I wish we had access to all these over here. We do love Inspector Lewis, and Doc Martin as well (though I think the earlier seasons were funnier). DA is highly enjoyable - the costuming in particular is stunning. And there's a quirky, silly little show called "Spy" that we both enjoyed - though I don't know how recent it is.


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