Locating trivia facts on this particular adaptation has proven more challenging than I expected. Considering the plethora of trivia I found on the 1941 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I can’t blame this scarcity entirely on the age of the television series, but I’m sure that part of it is due to the era in which it was produced, and that it was made for TV rather than being a cinematic release. I have resorted to focusing primarily on the cast of this production as the source of our fun facts. If you are already familiar with them, you may do very well on this challenge indeed. If not, at least you will learn something new today, which is a worthy outcome too. This post is something of a cross between their early years, six degrees of separation, and where are they now?
- Which actor in this series declared that the director, David Giles, was his favorite director?
- Which of the leading men of the series has also been cast in both the 1975 and 2015 productions of Poldark?
- What high honor was bestowed on actress Patricia Routledge, who portrayed Mrs. Jennings, in 2017?
- Screenwriter Denis Constanduros wrote for two other mediums. What were they?
- A second leading man of the series was also cast in the 1975 production of Poldark. Who was it?
- The actress Joanna David portrayed Elinor Dashwood in this series. What other Austen role has she played in a television adaptation?
- Richard Owens, who played Colonel Brandon in this production is the father one of the actresses in the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice. Who is his daughter?
- Actress Ciaran Madden, who portrayed Marianne Dashwood, retired from acting after her role in the 1997 production of Ivanhoe. At that time, she resumed her interest in which other art form?
- Which supporting actor was cast in the title role of the 1975 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical production, “Jeeves?“
- Actress Jo Kendall, who played Charlotte Palmer, was cast in the 1992 film, Howard’s End. Which actress from Sense and Sensibility 1995 was also in Howard’s End?
How do you think you did? I’m sure you got at least ONE of the answers. Read on to check your answers.
10.) Ciaran’s artistry. Ciaran Madden, the actress who portrayed Marianne Dashwood in this series, is a graduate of the RADA, the Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Arts in London. Based on the IMDB credits, her acting career spanned the years 1969 through 1997. According to her Wikipedia entry, following her retirement from acting at about the age of 55, she returned to an art form she had practiced prior to enrolling in RADA, painting, with a focus on portraits. I located an archive copy of her website under her married name, Ciaran Tyler, where you can see some of her paintings.
9.) Did Richard Owens get a Google Alert? While searching for trivia, I came across this blog post from 2009. I was delighted to note that Richard Owens had personally commented on the blog, lamenting that he felt this adaptation was sadly neglected, and stating that David Giles was his favorite director. Sadly, Mr. Owens passed away in November of 2015.
8.) He won one, he lost one. Clive Francis was twice-cast in a love triangle in the 1970s. First, as John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility who loved Marianne at the same time as Colonel Brandon held a torch for her, and again in the BBC’s 1975 television series Poldark, where he played Francis Poldark, who moved in on his cousin Ross’s fiancee when Ross was away at war.
7.) A triple threat. When an actor or actress can act, sing, and dance, they are considered to be a “triple threat.” Michael Aldridge, who played the jovial Sir John Middleton in this adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, had a solid career with 100 filmography credits on IMDB but was also found in numerous musical stage productions from 1954 through 1975. More of a character actor than a leading man, he never landed that elusive breakthrough role that would make him a star. The final entry in this list tells us that he was cast in the title role of Jeeves, a musical by Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber about PG Wodehouse’s uber-competent valet character. Although it was much anticipated, the production was a flop and was the nail in the coffin for Michael’s career in musicals.
6.) When Sense and Sensibility universes collide. Jo Kendall, who played Charlotte Palmer in 1971 would be cast two decades later, in two films that included Emma Thompson in the cast, Remains of the Day (1993) and Howard’s End (1992). Emma was working on the screenplay for the 1995 cinematic production of Sense and Sensibility, in which she was persuaded to take on the role of Elinor Dashwood. This would be one degree of separation.
5.) Mrs. Jennings is a superstar. Patricia Routledge, who played Mrs. Jennings, is a force to be reckoned with, as the video clip below shows. With acting skills perfected on stage, she brings a larger-than-life persona to the role in a way that foreshadows the trajectory of her illustrious career. She has received many awards, culminating in the honor of being awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2017 Queen’s New Years Honours List. This was for her services to Theatre and Charity. An award she was given in 1991 is as funny as she is. She was named as the “Personality of the Year” by the Grand Order of Water Rats, a showbiz charity, presumably due to her role as Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping up Appearances. Superstar indeed.
4.) A writer is a writer. Denis Constanduros, the screenwriter of this Austen adaptation was the nephew of a successful female playwright, Mabel Constanduros. She was instrumental in his entry into writing as a career, and they co-wrote a number of plays together. The titles I found seemed to be primarily comedies, such as the best-known of their plays, the drawing-room comedy, Acacia Avenue. He was also a prolific writer for radio programming. He was instrumental in the screenplays for three Austen BBC productions, including this one, the BBC adaptation of Emma in 1972, and his final contribution to the Austen dramatic works being the outline for the screenplay of the 1981 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. Constanduros passed away in 1978, so it is possible that his role in the development of the screenplay was aborted by his death.
3.) Two generations of Austen roles. I love it when I learn of even minor connections and adore it when the universe produces even larger ones, such as this delightful fact. Richard Owens, who played Colonel Brandon in this 1971 series, is the father of Suzannah Harker, who portrayed Jane Bennet in the 1985 production of Pride and Prejudice. One degree of separation and shared DNA to boot.
2.) Two very different leading roles. Robin Ellis who played the rather benign character of Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility was cast in 1975 as the dynamic Ross Poldark in Poldark. He is also seen in the current production of Poldark, as the Reverand Halse.
1.) When Elinor grows up. If you have scored 0/9 so far, this is the one you probably got, as it is a well-known bit of trivia. Joanna David, who played the eminently sensible Elinor Dashwood, who serves as the voice of reason in the Dashwood family in 1971, turns up in the 1985 production of Pride and Prejudice as the mature and sensible Mrs. Gardiner who provides the voice of reason as Elizabeth Bennet’s aunt. Ms. David makes being cool-headed and rational look so easy!
If you’re still with me, I hope you enjoyed the post. Please feel free to add to our knowledge in the comments if you have an insight that was missed.
Quiz Answers: 1.) Richard Owens (Colonel Brandon) 2.) Robin Ellis (Edward Ferrars) 3.) She was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen. 4.) Stage plays and radio. 5.) Clive Francis (John Willoughby) 6.) Mrs. Gardiner in Pride and Prejudice (1995) 7.) Suzannah Harker (Jane Bennet) 8.) Painting. 9.) Michael Aldridge (Sir John Middleton) 10.) Emma Thompson. (Elinor Dashwood 1995.)