Persuasion (1971) Trivia Challenge

Persuasion (1971) Trivia Challenge

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.

Quiz:

  1. How many episodes are there in this television series?
  2. What is the major difference between the production quality of the interior and exterior scenes?
  3. 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?
  4. Which decorative props from Persuasion 1971 were also seen in Persuasion 2007?
  5. Name one location where exterior scenes were filmed.
  6. How much older is Ann Firbank the actress than her character, Anne Elliot?
  7. In what century was the soundtrack music for Persuasion composed?
  8. 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?
  9. What did scenes representing Kellynch Hall and Uppercross have in common?
  10. 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.

Ann Firbank as Anne Elliot.
Elizabeth looks like the younger sister, not the elder in this side-by-side profile of the two sisters.

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.

Zhivilia Roche as Louisa Musgrove.

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.

Louisa (center) and Charles Musgrove as siblings in Persuasion.

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.

Indoor scene in Lyme.
Outdoor scene in Lyme.

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.

On location in Lyme Regis.
On location in Bath.

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.

Frampton Court Main House as the Upper Cross great house.
Frampton Court Orangery as Kellynch Hall.

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.

David Saville as Mr. Elliot.

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.

1971
2007

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.

18 Responses to Persuasion (1971) Trivia Challenge

    • The older versions definitely have a different style of acting, don’t they! I have to laugh about you having VHS tapes tucked away. I still have some too, but haven’t watched any of them in years. I’ve now duplicated many of those titles in my DVD library. Thanks for the comment, Jen.

    • I love that you ventured to guess in spite of obvious limitations! To me, it demonstrates a delightful curiosity and willingness to engage and play. Well done, even if you didn’t get any answers right.

  1. I guessed one or two answers but enjoyed this post enormously. I love this version of Persuasion, the first one I ever saw. Anne Firbank may have been too old for the part but she’s my favorite Ann. I always picture her when I’m reading the book.

    • I’m always glad to hear that people get a few of the answers right. In this whole series, I have only seen one post where someone got them all. A couple is a respectable score!

      The thing that impressed me the most about Ann Firbank’s performance was that she did come across as a highly superior sort of woman who could easily inspire the kind of devotion that Captain Wentworth experienced. I also think that she is a youthful looking 38. I would have guessed early thirties if I didn’t have the facts to go on.

  2. A fun and informative quiz, Diana — I got only a few of them correct and was delighted to read the answers to all of them.

    This is actually the first version of Persuasion that I purchased (I found it on sale somewhere). While I do like the ending, the characters are indeed a bit long in the tooth. But you must agree that this was not uncommon in films and on stage at the time — I believe it was the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet that started the trend for characters of the accurate age. I also found the hairstyles rather odd for the times. Suffice it to say that there have since been better adaptations! (And if you’ve ever seen All That Jazz, there’s a wonderful scene in which the Gwen Verdon character mocks the casting of older actors into youthful roles!)

    How wonderful that you found such a large chunk of the 1967 P&P adaptation — and shared it with us. I have several bits and pieces of this, and have searched for more as I particularly enjoy watching Michael Gough and Vivian Pickles as the Bennet parents, but have been advised that at the time this was made video tape was quite costly and so programs often ended up being taped over so it is unlikely that the entire production survived. Still I keep hoping.

    Many thanks again for an enjoyable read!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I have several theories on why in these early productions particularly, they seem to cast actors that so much older than their characters. I suspect that to some degree, they considered acting experience important, and I wonder if they also felt that classic literature wasn’t widely known among the masses, meaning it wouldn’t even require the suspension of disbelief – the audiences wouldn’t actually know any better. They may also have deluded themselves on how much apparent age can be altered by hair, makeup, and wardrobe. It works for stage productions, after all. This is all speculation, of course. In truth, I can’t imagine what they were thinking. 🙂 Thanks for the insightful comment!

  3. I didn’t realize many of these answers. You always surprise me with new trivia. I love these posts. I appreciate all the time you have to put in to garner these tidbits. I always thought the actress who played Anne was… um… very mature for her character. Not that she didn’t do a good job… she was just too composed and confident. You pointed out that Louise was a stage trained actress and this was her first film experience. You can see that in her exuberance. Stage directions are wide and more exaggerated so even those in the back row can see your performance. On film, you don’t need to be so wide with gestures or behavior. Louisa was supposed to be always jumping about as Charles would say; however, I don’t think to the extent we were given. I could be wrong. Thank you for this post, and yes, I did get the part about those statues. LOL!!

    • You have expressed exactly my thoughts about Louisa’s performance. It does go a long way toward explaining why her acting is so exaggerated. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today!

      • Oh, I did forget… in that dance scene with Louisa and Captain Wentworth at the great house at Upper Cross… Wentworth’s foot slipped and he slid a bit as he danced. He didn’t fall but you could tell it was a slip. I knew there was something I wanted to tell you.

  4. These posts are always a lot of fun. I have this 1971 version on DVD and enjoy watching it occasionally, although I agree with everything you said about the age of the lead actress and the “stage” feel of the sets and performances.

    But I also enjoyed the clip you shared from 1967 P&P. I wish BBC would dig all the episodes out of their archives, remaster it and release the full series. I’d love to add it to my collection!

    • I feel the same way about wishing the BBC would dust off the 1967 episodes and re-release them. I’ve watched all the clips that are out there, and I too would love to add it to my collection. Thanks for commenting, Nancy.

Comments are precious!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.