Posts Tagged ‘hugh bonneville’

This three part mini-series was an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ excellent novel of the same name. It tells the story of Nancy (Nan) Astley (Rachael Stirling), a Whitstable oyster girl in the 1800s, who falls in love with singer and dancer Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes). The two women become partners on and off stage, but the path of true love does not always run smooth, and life has a lot of surprises in store for Nan.

The book was actually my least favourite of Sarah Waters’, but that is not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, and I did wonder if the adaptation would be as enjoyable. As it turned out, it was absolutely fantastic, and stayed very faithful to the story. Rachael Stirling was absolutely superb as Nan – utterly believable as both a young and naive girl who doesn’t really understand her feelings towards Kitty, and equally so as a mature, world-weary woman, who has to draw upon all her resources and courage to make a living in 19th century London. Keeley Hawes was fine as Kitty Butler, and the supporting cast, including (the always wonderful) Anna Chancellor, John Bowe, and Jodhi May, were also great. Hugh Bonneville made an impact, despite being in only the third instalment of the series.

Anyone who has read the book will know that there are several explicit sex scenes in the book, and these scenes are also in the series. If you do not like raunchiness on screen, then this is definitely not the show for you! However, there is FAR more to this story than just sex; there is also a compelling and wonderfully acted story, showing how Nan deals with all the problems that life can throw at her. If you like period drama and excellent acting, with added sauciness and humour, then I highly recommend this series.

Year of release: 2002

Director: Geoffrey Sax

Producers: Gareth Neame, Sally Head, Sally Woodward Gentle, Georgina Lowe

Writers: Sarah Waters (novel), Andrew Davies

Main cast: Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes, Jodhi May, Anna Chancellor, John Bowe, Sally Hawkins

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This film was directed by Julian Fellowes, who since making it, has made the hugely successful Downton Abbey tv series.  Like that series, this film stars Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, and they are joined by, amongst others, Dominic West, Pauline Collins and Timothy Spall.

Set in 1940s England, 13 year old Tolly (Alex Etel) is sent to stay with his grandmother (Maggie Smith) at her country home, which she fears she will have to sell due to money problems.  Tolly’s father is fighting in WWII, and is missing in action.  As his grandmother tells him about the history of the house, and Tolly’s ancestors, he finds that he is able to travel back in time to 1805 and discover secrets about his family’s past, which still resonate today…

This film is adapted from Lucy M Boston’s book ‘The Chimneys of Green Knowe’.  I have not read the book, so cannot compare the two, but I did really enjoy the film.  Maggie Smith is as brilliant as ever, as the elderly lady who realises that she may have lost her beloved son, and may also have to give up her lifelong home.  Alex Etel does a fine job as Tolly, and credit should also be given to the supporting cast, especially Pauline Collins and Timothy Spall, as two members of the staff at the house.  Dominic West is great (as ever), although here he plays a particularly unpleasant character – I personally prefer to see him in nicer roles!

There is a parallel storyline;  the story from 1805 – which centres around Tolly’s ancestors, the kindly Captain Oldknow (Hugh Bonneville) and his selfish wife Maria (Carice van Houten) and their children Sefton; a spoiled, selfish young man (Douglas Booth) and Susan, a kindly, blind girl (Eliza Bennett).  Into their lives comes Jacob (Kwayedza Kureya), a former slave who escapes from captivity with the help of Captain Oldknow and joins the household as a companion for Susan, much to the chagrin of Sefton.  The second storyline is of course set in 1940s, with Tolly and his grandmother worrying about what has become of Tolly’s father (and we do find out), while at the same time getting to know and understand each other.

I thought the film was incredibly well acted, and both story lines were very touching.  So much so, that I ended up in tears at the end, which is not something that happens very often when I watch a film.  This was just a lovely film, well acted, well told, and very emotive.  Highly recommended to all fans of period drama.

Year of release: 2009

Director: Julian Fellowes

Writers: Lucy M. Boston (book), Julian Fellowes

Main cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Etel, Eliza Bennett, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Hugh Bonneville, Douglas Booth, Kwayedza Kureya

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Downton Abbey finished it’s seven episode run last night – sob!  However, the good news is that there will be another eight episodes next year, and I’ll be looking forward to watching them.

This show really captured viewers’ imaginations, pulling in an audience of nine million.  And why not?  It had it all – it looked fabulous, the writing was great with all the elements required for a great drama – intrigue, scandal, romance, secrets, treachery and humour.  However, what raised it head and shoulders above so many other shows was the top-notch cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens, Brendan Coyle, Joanna Froggatt, Penelope Wilton, Ron James-Collier and Maggie Smith, to name a handful.

The story starts in 1912, when Lord Robert Crawley (Bonneville) discovers that his cousin and heir to Downton has perished aboard the Titanic.  As Lord and Lady Crawley only have daughters, this means that the heir is now a distant nephew, Matthew Crawley (Stevens).  As Matthew and his mother Isobel (Wilton) move to a cottage on the estate, the family and the new heir find it difficult to adjust to the new arrangement.  In particular, Lord Robert’s mother, Dowager Crawley (Smith) is concerned that her eldest grand-daughter, who was due to marry the original and now deceased heir, will lose out on the family’s fortune.

This provides the backdrop to the story, but equally as much time is focused on the lives of the staff at the house, and the social events in the lives of all of the characters.  The villains of the piece are footman Thomas (James-Collier) and Lady Cora’s maid, O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran).

In a time when there seems to be a dearth of good drama on television, and instead there is a deluge of awful reality and ‘talent’ shows, Downton Abbey provided some fabulous and intelligent entertainment.  If you didn’t catch it while it was on, I highly recommend that you put the DVD box set on your Christmas list, and indulge yourself!

Year of release: 2010

Directors: Brian Percival, Ben Bolt, Brian Kelly

Writer: Julian Fellowes

Main cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Brendan Coyle, Dan Stevens, Penelope Wilton, Rob James-Collier, Joanna Froggatt

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