Many Austen Authors’ readers declared this adaptation their favorite four weeks ago. Starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in the lead roles, it was a product of a former era, filmed on videotape with the interior shots primarily done in studio sets. The dearth of interviews and articles online about this production is lamentable, so I included a few points of interest about the careers of the two lead actors to bring the list up to ten.
- What did screenwriter Fay Weldon say she hoped would be the outcome for viewers of the 1980 production of Pride and Prejudice?
- Which county in England stood in for the outdoor Hertfordshire locations?
- What attribute did Fay Weldon, the screenwriter wish to highlight in Elizabeth Bennet to attract Mr. Darcy?
- Which prior Austen adaptation was the greatest source of re-used costumes in the 1980 Pride and Prejudice?
- What artistic medium features in the illustrations shown at the beginning of each episode?
- How was Elizabeth Garvie recruited to audition for the role of Elizabeth Bennet?
- How did Elizabeth Garvie perceive Elizabeth Bennet in comparison to herself?
- There was only one scene in this adaptation that wasn’t directly from the novel. Which one was it?
- Elizabeth Garvie was cast as a well-known personality in the 1993 biographical production, “Diana: Her True Story.” Who did she portray?
- David Rintoul was cast in the 2011 season of the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Who did he portray?
Let’s see how you did!
10.) Arts and allurements to draw us in – In an interview with screenwriter Fay Weldon, she shared her hopes for the series in terms of the target audience.
“I hope it makes Pride and Prejudice accessible to those who might never have read the book and pleasurable for those who know it well.”
9.) The opposite of type casting – Elizabeth Garvie played one of the most beloved characters in classic literature as Elizabeth Bennet. She was ironically cast some thirteen years later in the role of a real-life character who was, at the time, not viewed with much sympathy. As Camilla Parker-Bowles in the 1993 biographical production of “Diana: Her True Story,” she acted the part of the third-party that is often blamed for the breakdown of the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
8.) First Impressions – At the beginning of each episode, during the opening credits, the background contains delightful watercolor cartoon depictions of scenes in the upcoming episode. These tableaus are in the style of Thomas Rowlandson, who was a contemporary of Jane Austen. These not only depict scenes from the episode but reveal something of the characters they portray and are worthy of attention in their own right.
7.) Do you know where you are? All three of the outdoor scenes representing Hertfordshire locations were filmed further north, in Lincolnshire county. West Vale Hall was used for Netherfield Park, Thorpe Tilney Hall was the site for Longbourn, and the vast gardens supposedly behind the modest Lucas Lodge, where Collins proposes to Charlotte, are on the grounds of Doddington Hall. Renishaw Hall, which served as Pemberley, is in Derbyshire.
6.) Elizabeth on Elizabeth – Elizabeth Garvie identified with Elizabeth Bennet, saying in an interview:
“I think we’re very alike. Elizabeth Bennet is such a determined person. She’s absolutely honest, says exactly what she thinks. I can’t cover up if something isn’t the truth or isn’t honest, either. She’s Jane Austen’s liberated woman. She knew what she wanted, but she lived in a time when you couldn’t be so radical and outspoken as you are today.”
In a different interview, however, when asked if there are similarities of personality between herself and Elizabeth Bennet, she modestly answered,
“Oh, I don’t think I would presume that! I hope I have a sense of humour. She certainly has one, although it fails her sometimes.”
5.) The Regency closet – Numerous costumes used in Pride and Prejudice (1980) were first seen in the 1972 production of Emma, starring Doran Godwin in the title role. I selected just a few of the matches to share. I’ll let you decide who wore it better.
4.) The other King David – Actor David Rintoul, who portrayed Mr. Darcy, has a long and distinguished acting career that spans the genres of stage, television, film, radio, voice-overs, and audiobook narration. There isn’t room in this post to do justice to the breadth of his work, so I selected two that illustrate his range. On the lighter side, he is the voice of Granddad Dog, Dr. Brown Bear, Mr. Bull, and Monsieur Donkey in the beloved children’s animation “Peppa Pig.” On the darker side, he played “The Mad King” Aerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
3.) Elizabeth Bennet’s edge – Fay Weldon, in describing the trait held by Elizabeth that caught Mr. Darcy’s attention, said that it was,
“Audacity rather than compliance.”
Elizabeth’s monologue after she has accepted Darcy’s second proposal emphasizes this.
“My beauty you had earlier withstood. As for my manners, did you admire my impertinence? You were sick of civility, I daresay. Of deference, of officious attention. I aroused and interested you because I was so unlike the rest. I did not want your approbation. There. I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it, and all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you know no actual good of me. But nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.”
2.) Lady most fowl – Screenwriter Fay Weldon shared that the only part of the screenplay that wasn’t straight out of the novel was Lady Catherine explaining to Charlotte Collins how to get hens to lay eggs in the winter.
1.) The right face at the right time on the right wall – Elizabeth Garvie was a virtual unknown when she was cast to play Elizabeth Bennet, with no prior film or television credits. She had an agent, however, and the series producer, Jonathan Powell spotted her photo on the wall and requested that she read for the part. Garvie auditioned the next day and got the part.
Quiz answers: 1.) To bring Pride and Prejudice to people who weren’t familiar with it. 2.) Lincolnshire. 3.) Audacity. 4.) Emma (1972) 5.) Watercolor. 6.) The producer saw her photo. 7.) They are similar in terms of honesty and openness. 8.) Lady Catherine talking about chickens. 9.) Camilla Parker-Bowles. 10.) Aerys Targaryen, “The Mad King.”
Well, that’s it for today. If you have the inside scoop on this production please feel free to share your knowledge. I’d love to hear your votes on “Who wore it best?” and I would appreciate opinions on one more topic. I find myself at the proverbial fork in the road. There are a few more adaptations of Pride and Prejudice I could include in this series, but there are many other Austen film and television series to explore. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether I should cover such works as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-day Comedy or move on to adaptations of other Austen novels.