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Londoner Amanda Price is unsatisfied with her current relationship, and finds solace and happiness in reading her favourite book, Pride and Prejudice.  Although she feels as though she knows the characters intimately, she is astounded to find the book’s protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, in her bathroom – and even more surprised when, after stepping through a door in the bathroom, Amanda finds herself in the Bennet household at the turn of the 19th century, right at the beginning of the story of Pride and Prejudice….but without Elizabeth present, the storyline goes awry and despite Amanda’s best efforts to remedy matters, nobody is falling in love with the right people!  Can Amanda ensure that everyone gets their proper happy ever after?  And will she ever make it back to modern day London?

Well!  I can see why some Austen fans did not like this mini-series (four episodes), because it totally plays around with the storyline of one of Britain’s best-loved books.  Although I do love P&P, I did find this series amusing, and thought it was, in the main, cleverly done.  Jemima Rooper plays Amanda, who captured that ‘fish out of water’ feeling very well.  Elliot Cowan certainly looked perfect for Darcy, and portrayed Darcy’s discomfort and awkwardness in social situations.  Morven Christie and Tom Mison played Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley respectively – although in this series, Jane ends up married to the odious Mr Collins (much to Amanda’s – and Jane’s – horror), and both were very much how I imagined the characters to be.  However, the stand-out turns for me were from Alex Kingston, who was brilliant as the fussy, silly Mrs Bennet, and Hugh Bonneville as her long-suffering and infinitely more sensible husband.  Both of these brought a lot of humour to the series, with Kingston stealing most of her scenes.  Gemma Arterton played Lizzie Bennet, but only appeared in two episodes of the series, and in one of those, her appearance was a brief one.  It’s a shame, because I could really see her as Lizzie, and did feel that I would have liked to have seen more of her coping in modern day London – which is where she is while Amanda is at the Bennets’ house – somehow the lack of Lizzie in London feels like a missed opportunity.

Chaos and laughter ensue as Darcy starts to fall for Amanda – as indeed does one other surprising character – and Wickham, far from being the dastardly charmer which he is in Austen’s book, actually seems to be quite a lovely guy (helped by a charming turn from Tom Riley).

I intended to watch one episode per week, but ended up watching the second, third and fourth episodes in one chunk, because I really wanted to see what happened.  My only complaint is with the ending of the series.  I won’t say too much because to do so would be to give away big spoilers, but the final few minutes of the last episode did not turn out the way I either expected or wanted them to.  But apart from that, the series was thoroughly entertaining, sweet, and funny.  I would suggest that it is better to know the basic storyline of P&P before watching, because comparing what is supposed to happen, with what actually does happen, is part of the fun, but I  would still say that it would be enjoyable to anyone who likes a bit of offbeat comedy.

Year of release: 2008

Director: Dan Zeff

Producers: Guy Andrews, Michele Buck, Hugo Heppell, Damien Timmer, Kate McKerrell, Brett Wilson

Writers: Jane Austen (inspired by novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’), Guy Andrews

Main cast: Jemima Rooper, Elliot Cowan, Hugh Bonneville, Florence Hoath, Alex Kingston, Morven Christie, Perdita Weeks, Tom Mison, Ruby Bentall, Christina Cole, Tom Riley, Guy Henry

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Click here for my review of the novel Pride and Prejudice.

Click here for my review of the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Click here for my review of the 1995 mini series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

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