Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

William and Kate- I just can't get enough!

William & Kate, the American made-for-TV film by Lifetime
OK, I am a totally sad anglophile who is eating up all of the total crap on television this week leading up to the "Royal Wedding of the Century" on Friday. I just can't help myself! BBC Canada is feeding my habit by running royalty related shows in the evening every night this week and Lifetime ran it's William and Kate American made docudrama recently. Of course it was cheesy, but I couldn't rip myself away from the TV!

Nico Evers-Swindell as William and Camilla Luddington as Catherine Middleton
Yes, they did do things like stick a red phone box on an LA street and pretend it is London (same with double-decker buses). The accents on the lead characters float in and out because William is played by a Kiwi and Kate is portrayed by a blue blooded Brit who has been living and acting in LA for quite a while. But none of this seemed to matter as I lapped it right up.  I occasionally rolled my eyes at the more unbelievable scenes such as the showdown between William and Charles about how Diana was treated or much worse, the scene where William sings karaoke to Kate in public to apologize for his behavior. Ouch!

I cannot explain why I got up early 30 years ago to watch William's parents get married, and I cannot explain why I stayed glued to the TV bawling 14 years ago when Diana died. The film The Queen was likewise riveting for me as it brought back so many memories associated with Diana and the Royals.

Wills and Kate who seem to be truly in love
So all I can say is that I will definitely be hitting the hay early on Thursday night so I can get up at about 5:00 eastern time to catch the ceremony before I have to go to work. My sister promised to phone me so that we can chat as we watch it together on TV over our respective coffee cups and analyze everything until the "Big Kiss Moment on the Balcony" is over and we have to get our showers and get on with our days. At the last big one 30 years ago, we were in the same room, so this will be the next best thing.

Cheers, and I hope everyone gets enough sleep on Thursday night!

And now I think I'll see what CNN has to say about the wedding. Piers Morgan is as excited about this wedding as I am!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Morris: A Life With Bells On - A spoof with bells on!

Morris: A Life With Bells On- Mockumentary Spoof
In honour of St. George's Day tomorrow (well actually May 2 this year because of Holy Week), I have found a little oddity for my readers who, like me, appreciate the quirky British sense of humor in film. First of all, let us just define Morris dancing for those who have never heard of it.

Charles Thomas Oldham as Derecq Twist doing his morris dancing

A morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two men, steps are performed near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid across each other on the floor.

Emma Thompson with morris dancing hats
Next, I have to say that although this does not star Emma Thompson, it involves 3 members of her immediate family, so here she is hamming it up at the premiere in 2009. Her husband Greg Wise (Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility amongst other great roles) and her sister Sophie Thompson (Mary Musgrove from Persuasion 1995 and Miss Bates from Emma 1996) have supporting roles in this and Sophie's husband Richard Lumsden (Mr. Robert Ferrars from S&S) wrote the original music for the film.  Harriet Walter (the evil Fanny from S&S) is also a supporting character.

Emma Thompson and Greg Wise at Morris premiere

Now, this is a film which you will either love or you will hate. Perhaps a little look at the trailer will help you decide which camp you will be in...

Unfortunately, even if you think this would be a great film for you, it is unavailable in Region 1 form for those of us in North America.  But here's hoping that they will release it for the few of us over here who think this looks hilarious. I am now going to morris dance over to the door and let my dog out. Where are my bells and hankies anyway...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The King's Speech DVD released today, April 19, 2011

The King's Speech DVD released today

In honour of the release of The King's Speech DVD today (a perfect gift for Easter Bunnies everywhere) I found a great little piece on "The Real King's Speech" on You Tube. I also found the historic recording of the actual King George VI giving his famous address for those who would like to hear the actual radio broadcast. Happy Easter and if the old hopper doesn't bring this to you, go and get it yourself. What a great film to watch with your family (assuming they are old enough to hear some swearing in a very funny context).

Here is Colin Firth with the mini documentary:

And here is the Queen's father himself with the historic radio address:

I hope there are lots of extras on the DVD! Have a wonderful weekend to all of my Jane Austen Film Club friends. I'll be showing this to both of my teenage boys this weekend. Great family time!

The King's SpeechThe King's Speech [Blu-ray]60 Minutes - The King's Speech (February 20, 2011)The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British MonarchyThe King's Speech

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs Who's Who

Need help with the characters of Upstairs Downstairs?
Tonight on PBS, Upstairs Downstairs continues and can get a tad confusing especially if you were distracted for even a moment of last week's episode, or if you missed it entirely and want to pick it up tonight. So I thought I would help out by giving a little info on who is who. By the way, thanks to the BBC press office for the character sketches, which I have only slightly embellished.



Sir Hallam Holland, played by Ed Stoppard: The Master

Diplomat Sir Hallam appears to have everything. In his mid-30s, he has risen rapidly through the ranks of the Foreign Office, and has recently inherited not just 165 Eaton Place but a considerable fortune and a baronetcy. After a lonely childhood spent in boarding schools, he also has found deep love and solace with his wife Lady Agnes. However, he must also find room in his heart, and his home, for his formidable mother Maud, Lady Holland. The events of 1936 will challenge and change him in ways he could not have foreseen.

Lady Agnes Holland, played by Keeley Hawes: The Chatelaine

The eldest daughter of the 12th Earl Towyn, Lady Agnes was reared in a very damp castle in Wales. Beautiful and aristocratic, she has never been well off. Despite financial hardship, and their failure to have children, her marriage to Sir Hallam has been happy and devoted. The sudden rush of new money thrills her, and she is determined to put her husband, and her home, at the heart of London high society. But even as her dreams come true, Lady Agnes is forced to digest unpalatable truths, and fight to preserve the things she holds most dear.

Maud, Lady Holland, played by Dame Eileen Atkins: The Dowager

Maud, Lady Holland is Sir Hallam's mother, and one of the women who helped to build the Raj. A fiercely intelligent and complex woman, she spent her whole adult life in support of her husband, the late Sir Greville Holland, seeing him rise to the very top of the Indian Civil Service. Newly widowed, she returns to England to write her memoirs, and secretly hopes to build a new relationship with her grown-up son. But thirty years of distance are not easily undone, and there will be shocks and heartache along the way.

Lady Persie Towyn, played by Claire Foy: The Debutante

Lady Persephone Towyn is the 20-year-old sister of Lady Agnes. Ravishing but gauche, she has been marooned in Wales due to lack of family funds – a situation Lady Agnes is delighted to reverse. But Lady Persie's lack of education, and the stimulation of the London scene, make for a highly combustible mix.


Miss Rose Buck, played by Jean Marsh: The Housekeeper

Rose Buck was the upper house parlourmaid at Eaton Place for almost forty years. Since 1932 she has eked out a living running a domestic employment agency – but a twist of fate brings Lady Agnes to her door. Initially engaged purely to recruit the servants for the Hollands, Rose soon proves herself indispensible to the running of the house. A business deal becomes an emotional adventure, and Rose returns, in triumph, as a permanent member of the staff of 165.

Mr Pritchard, played by Adrian Scarborough: The Butler

Warwick Pritchard is sleek, discreet and quite beautifully spoken – but Rose has distinct reservations at first. Mr Pritchard comes to 165 Eaton Place after a lengthy career on the Cunard cruise ships, and has a reference from film star Errol Flynn. Teetotal and highly strung, his exacting fa├žade conceals deep kindness and real integrity. As the downstairs family settles in, he gradually becomes the moral centre of the household – though he still has a few surprises up his sleeve.

Mrs Thackeray, played by Anne Reid: The Cook

Clarice Thackeray is a widow. Passionate about her work, she expects the highest standards of herself and others. She follows the workings of high society through the pages of the Tatler, and even cuts out pictures of the family upstairs. Romantic and affectionate by nature, she is also nosey, judgemental and a monumental snob.

Mr Amanjit, played by Art Malik: The Secretary

Educated, gentle, and imposing, Amanjit Singh comes to Eaton Place as secretary to Maud, Lady Holland. Having been in her service in India for many years, he is devoted to her welfare. Occupying a position that is neither upstairs nor down, he is at first a shadowy and isolated figure. However, he rose to his current position from very humble origins, and longs to be included in the servants' social world. Once he manages to break the ice, he becomes a welcome and respected member of their tribe.

Harry Spargo, played by Neil Jackson: The Chauffeur

Good-looking and cocksure, Harry Spargo enjoys his position with Hollands, but resents the social system that keeps him there. He enjoys a cautious camaraderie with Sir Hallam, but this is put to the test by the events of 1936. His passionate nature and desire for easy fulfilment will take him into dark pastures, politically and emotionally.

Ivy Morris, played by Ellie Kendrick: The Housemaid

Orphaned Ivy Morris comes to 165 from a Barnardo's home, where she was trained as a domestic servant. Just 15 years old, she is spirited, wilful, and likes red nail varnish and singing in the bath. Rose only hires her out of desperation, and has a hard time wrangling disobedience and tantrums. But Ivy, who has never had a proper home, knows she has found one in 165. She would never willingly risk her newfound security – but her hunger for love leads her, and others, into danger.

Johnny Proude, played by Nico Mirallegro: The Footman

Aged 16, Johnny Proude was born in a mining village near Nottingham. He launches a career in domestic service in an effort to escape a life spent down the pit. Charming and hard-working, he is popular with the other servants – especially Ivy – but comes to 165 with a troubling secret that, once revealed, will shatter the whole household.

Rachel Perlmutter, played by Helen Bradbury: The Parlourmaid

Rachel Perlmutter is a German-Jewish refugee who comes to 165 as the new parlourmaid, in May 1936. Reserved and sophisticated, Rachel knows little about basic household chores, but is determined to make the best of her circumstances. An unexpected friendship with Mr Amanjit has lasting consequences for both of them.


HRH The Duke of Kent, played by Blake Ritson

Kent is new King Edward VIII's youngest brother, and Sir Hallam's closest friend. They shared some wild nights out when they were younger, but both have now settled into domesticity. As the Abdication scandal rises to a rolling boil, Kent leans on Sir Hallam for support – and 165 Eaton Place finds itself at the heart of a national crisis.

Joachim von Ribbentrop, played by Edward Baker-Duly

A German diplomat who answers directly to Hitler, Ribbentrop is out to solicit the British establishment. Charismatic and manipulative, Ribbentrop's flirtation with Lady Persie has significant repercussions for 165.

Anthony Eden, played by Anthony Calf

The Foreign Secretary, with whom Sir Hallam works closely at the Foreign Office. His personal opinions often run counter to the government policy of the day, and Sir Hallam finds his own political assumptions challenged.

These last three are probably the most confusing, as they are real historical characters and they just briefly flit on and off the screen so if your knowledge of 1930s history is not spot on, you may find yourself puzzled.

I might also say that it is lovely to see so many of my favourite actors from other period dramas in this miniseries.

Keely Hawes of course, was Cynthia Kirkpatrick in Wives and Daughters, Lizzy Hexam in Our Mutual Friend and Harry Kennedy's sister Rosie in The Vicar of Dibley (I know, not period drama but she played Richard Armitage's sister!).

Dame Eileen Atkins will forever be Miss Deborah Jenkyns of Cranford. I cried heartily at her final episode in Cranford!

Claire Foy is amazing in UpDown, but her best work so far is as the titular character in Little Dorrit. I think that miniseries has touched my heart and changed my view of the world forever.

Adrian Scarborough has been in many of my faves, including Cranford (as the shopkeeper Mr. Johnson), Gosford Park, The King's Speech and The Madness of King George.

Blake Ritson of course has been Mr. Elton in Emma, Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park and is in the new The Crimson Petal and the White.

Anthony Calf is an old crush of mine, as he played Col. Fitzwilliam in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

Well, enjoy tonight's episode my friends. The sun has just come out (it was snowing here this morning!!!) so I think a dog walk is in order now.


Upstairs DownstairsCranford: The Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)Wives and DaughtersOur Mutual FriendThe Vicar of Dibley - The Immaculate CollectionLittle DorritGosford ParkThe King's SpeechThe Madness of King GeorgeEmma (2009)Masterpiece Theatre: Mansfield ParkPride and Prejudice (Restored Edition)



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