Nearly fifty years have passed since this Austen adaptation of Persuasion debuted on the small screen. Filmed at a time when ITV drama productions were low-budget affairs, studio sets are obviously used for the interior scenes. The acting feels awkwardly similar a theatrical production, which is hardly surprising since most of the British actors of the era are classically trained for the stage before they move into television and film. In conducting research for this post, I encountered the same obstacles as previous posts about productions from that decade. Having been filmed in pre-internet times when video technology was in its infancy, superior entries of Persuasion have emerged in the five decades since this adaptation was first introduced. The result is that this version suffers from a sad degree of obscurity and details about it are comparatively underrepresented. Even so, I think you’ll still get a couple of the quiz answers right if you at least venture to guess.
- How many episodes are there in this television series?
- What is the major difference between the production quality of the interior and exterior scenes?
- Rowland Davies, who played Charles Musgrove played the romantic lead opposite one of his sisters in Persuasion in another 1971 historical production, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. Which actress/sister portrayed the female lead, Molly Gibson?
- Which decorative props from Persuasion 1971 were also seen in Persuasion 2007?
- Name one location where exterior scenes were filmed.
- How much older is Ann Firbank the actress than her character, Anne Elliot?
- In what century was the soundtrack music for Persuasion composed?
- Zhivilia Roche, who played Louisa Musgrove was fairly new to screen acting when she was cast. How many roles had she played onscreen prior to this one?
- What did scenes representing Kellynch Hall and Uppercross have in common?
- Which actor in Persuasion 1971 had also played a role in the 1967 television production of Pride and Prejudice?
I congratulate you on having gotten this far. How do you think you did? Did you make some guesses or did you just skip the quiz and jump over it to get to the actual trivia points? That’s okay, I’m sure there are others that do the same. However you got here, read on for the answers and more.
10.) The older-younger sister. Ann Firbank is 38 years old when she played the 27-year-old Anne Elliot, eleven years older than her character. Her face clearly has the contours of a woman in her thirties. On a side-note, she is four years older than Valerie Gearon who played Elizabeth Elliot, Anne’s older sister.
9.) Her big break. Persuasion was the first on-screen role Zhivilia Roche, the actress who portrayed Louisa Musgrove ever played, although she did have experience acting on stage. She was also the leading female role of Molly Gibson in another 1971 historical production for television, in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel, Wives and Daughters.
8.) It’s only creepy if you think about it. Rowland Davies, who played Charles Musgrove in Persuasion was also in the 1971 production of Wives and Daughters, in the role of Roger Hamley. In Persuasion, actress Zhivilia Roche was his sister. In Wives and Daughters in the lead role as Molly Gibson, she begins with a sisterly relationship to Roger Hamley, but gradually comes to love him.
7.) This was a trick question. The original television series was aired in 5 episodes. When the BBC Video Classic DVD edition was released, however, the series was consolidated into two episodes with a total run-time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.
6.) Did they think nobody would notice the difference? Indoor scenes were filmed on video which produced a sharper image than what is seen in the outdoor scenes which were filmed on 16MM film.
5.) Location scenes in Bath, Lyme Regis, and Glouchestershire. While the interior shots were filmed in-studio sets, exterior shots were filmed on location. Crews traveled to the seaside resort towns of Lyme Regis and Bath for the iconic scenes from the novel that took place there. They also filmed on location in Gloucestershire to represent Kellynch and nearby scenes.
4.) Same estate, different buildings. Scenes for both Kellynch Hall and Upper Cross were filmed at Frampton Court, Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, with Kellynch Lodge using the Orangery and Upper Cross using the main house. Frampton Court is now a hotel and wedding venue.
3.) Not exactly a brass band sound but it works. The only music on the Persuasion soundtrack is A Downland Suite: III – Minuet: Allegretto grazioso by John Ireland. He composed the piece for the National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain in 1932. It did not win the contest.
2.) From an Austen good guy to an Austen villain. David Saville, who played the conniving Mr. Elliot, previously portrayed the charming and amiable Mr. Bingley in the black and white 1967 production of Pride and Prejudice. He can be seen in the clip below beginning at 5:28.
1.) The Elliot style. There is a set of distinctive black and gold candelabra statues first seen in the 1971 adaptation in the background of Anne’s sitting room during her conversation with Lady Russell. The same props are seen again 36 years later in the 2007 version of Persuasion, this time flanking the bottom of the staircase in the Elliot’s Bath residence.
How did you do on the quiz? Did you learn anything new regarding this adaptation? Do you know of any additional trivia points you’d like to share? Please let us know in the comments below.
Quiz Answers: 1.) There are five episodes in the original series, but the DVD release has consolidated the scenes into 2 episodes. 2.) Type of filming equipment. Video vs 16MM film. 3.) Zhivilia Roche/Louisa Musgrove. 4.) The statues in Anne’s sitting room. 5.) Bath or Lyme Regis. 6.) Eleven years older. 7.) Twentieth-century. It was composed in 1932. 8.) None. This was her first screen role. 9.) They were filmed at the same estate, Frampton Court. 10.) David Saville who played Mr. Elliot in Persuasion was Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice.