North and South (2004)   Leave a comment

This beautifully adapted drama was first aired in Britain in 2004. Starring Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage as John Thornton, the four-part series based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1855 novel was an instant hit with audiences, surprising the BBC who were convinced it wouldn’t do well in the ratings.

However, we costume drama fangirls know better. Put a good-looking actor like Richard Armitage in a sexy waistcoat and shirt, and we will watch anything, regardless of what it is. Fortunately, though, the show had more than just totty watch going for it.

Set during the height of the Industrial Revolution, North and South tells the story of proud and genteel Margaret Hale, a girl from the south, who is forced to move with her family to the grimy mill town of Darkshire (a ficticious Manchester) when her father suddenly decides to leave the clergy.

Darkshire is Margaret’s worst nightmare come true. The streets are filthy and full of smoke, thanks to the surrounding mills that run night and day, the weather is inhospitable, and worse of all, the people are coarse and ill-mannered. Particularly one John Thornton, whom Margaret takes an instant dislike to, even though he is one of the wealthiest men in town.

Thornton’s wealth is self-made, though, and the harsh experiences of his younger years have left him with a chip on his shoulder. Despite his gruff manners and no-nonsense talk, he proves himself to be honest, hard-working and intelligent.

But Margaret refuses to see his good side and rejects him when he proposes to her, believing him to be haughty and snobbish-as some in the town think she is.

Through a series of crises, in which Thornton-without any fanfare- stands by Margaret and helps her when he can, she comes to realise that perhaps he is a decent sort after all, and is just the kind of man she would like to spend the rest of her life with. Aww.

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Happy birthday to David Tennant   1 comment

A very big happy birthday to actor, David Tennant, who turns 40 today (I know, I can’t believe it either!)

Born on the 18 April, 1971 in West Lothian, Scotland, Tennant knew he wanted to be an actor from a young age. At 16, he changed his surname from McDonald to Tennant (there was already another actor called David McDonald), and at 17, he became the youngest person to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

As hard as it is to believe, he has actually been around for awhile, having started his tv career back in 1988.

But he became a household name in 2005, when he took over from Christopher Eccelson in the role of ‘Doctor Who’. Along with the show’s writer, Russell T. Davies, Tennant was responsible for breathing new life into the series, and bringing it to an entire new generation of fans.

Again, in 2005, he was cast as Casanova in the BBC mini-series of the same name, which also starred Peter O’Toole and Rupert Penry-Jones. Tennant proved just how versatile an actor he is, and his comic timing was perfect.

In 2008/09, he played Hamlet to rave reviews at the Novello Theatre in London, also managing to pick up a swag of awards for his turn as the Prince of Denmark.

In 2010, he left the tardis for the last time, and is currently filming Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’.

Congratulations are also in order for David, as he and his girlfriend, Georgia Moffett became the proud parents of baby Olive, who was born on the 29 March, 2011.

Whatever role David Tennant plays, whether it is the Good Doctor, or the greatest lover in history or Hamlet, the fact is he is just incredibly enjoyable to watch on screen. In every performance he gives, his special brand of energetic enthusiasm and quirky humour shines through!

So once again, happy birthday, David Tennant!

10 Signs You Watch Too Many Costume Dramas   Leave a comment

 

1. You have started a one-woman campaign to bring back the cravat;

2. You can keep up with the deluge of Jane Austen adaptations or films/ series about her, and have seen most of them;

3. You have coerced your significant other into letting you call him Mr. Darcy-in public.

4. You deliberately go out walking in stormy weather in the hope of spraining your ankle and being rescued by a dashing gentleman on horseback;

5. When you dream about your ideal man, he is wearing riding breeches and a top hat;

6. You have completely redecorated your home in the Regency or Victorian style;

7. You are inexplicably drawn to swarthy, dark haired men who torment you with their moody ways and lack of communication skills;

8. You deplore the fact that qualities such as honour, integrity and loyalty have little meaning in our society;

9. You greet people (even your own family) by saying: “Ah, good morning, sir, madam. ‘Tis a fine morning, is it not?”

10. You can name about 95% of the costume dramas shown in this you tube clip:

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Happy Birthday to Gina McKee   Leave a comment

A very happy birthday to actress, Gina McKee, who was born in Sunderland, Tyne on Wear, on the 14 April, 1961.

She has been in plenty of television shows and films over the years including ‘Our Friends in the North,’ ‘Notting Hill’, ‘The Forsyte Saga,’ ‘Atonement,’ and the detective crime drama ‘Lewis.’

One of her more recent projects has seen her in the British comedy ‘In the Loop,’ with comedian Chris Addison, but for many people she will always be Irene Forsyte in the brilliant ITV mini-series, ‘The Forsyte Saga.’

Fiercely private and reluctant to give interviews, she is a far cry from the Lady Gagas of this world who constantly seek the attention of fans and the media. Perhaps the reason Gina looks so right in historical parts is that she exudes a beauty and elegance that is rare these days, but which harks back to an earlier age of grace, class and refinement.

Horatio Hornblower (1998-2003)   Leave a comment

Ok, I know I said in my About page how this blog wasn’t going to be all about me ogling totty British actors, but the thing is, dear reader….I lied.

No, seriously. Doing the post about Jamie Bamber the other day got me thinking about what an amazing series Hornblower was, and how I wish they had made more of them.

Although he had had small roles in other films, being cast as Horatio Hornblower was a godsend for the then 23 year old Welsh actor, Ioan Gruffudd. He was perfect in the role as a socially awkward but honourable young man who joins the British Navy as a 17 year old midshipman, and steadily rises up the ranks.

Beginning with ‘The Even Chance’ in 1998, the series ran as 8 separate tv movies until the final episode ‘Duty’ aired in 2003. Surprisingly, though, it wasn’t the BBC who commisioned the series to be made, but an American production company, A&E. 

As well as the exotic locations, rollicking good story lines and lavish costumes, Hornblower featured a stellar cast of veteran and up and coming actors. Alongside Ioan and Jamie, of course, there was Robert Lindsey, Paul McGann, Anthony Sher, Dennis Lawson, Samuel West and David Warner to name a few.

There has really been nothing else of this calibre on tv before or since, so this is my little tribute to great television-making and the people who made it happen.

PS. For any of you die-hard Ioan fans out there, does that picture of Ioan holding a gun immediately make you start singing:”I’m quick on the trigger..”?

PPS. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, see the video below. You’ll be glad you did!

A big thankyou!   Leave a comment

British flag by dragonart

Hey, there! First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been viewing the posts since I started this blog on the 23 March. I must admit, I was a bit chuffed when I got up this morning and saw that 30 people had visited the site yesterday.

To those of you who maybe have your own blogs and have been doing it for awhile, 30 might not seem like a lot, but to me it’s a wonderful validation that people like the blog and are interested in the things I’m writing about, so thanks again.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment or feedback. It would be nice to get to know you as people rather than search engine URLs.

Posted April 4, 2011 by rachel london in Uncategorized

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‘The Pursuit of Love’- Nancy Mitford   Leave a comment

Published in 1945, ‘The Pursuit of Love’ is a novel by Nancy Mitford (yes, one of those Mitfords.) Set among the upper classes of English society during the 30’s and 40’s, it is told through the eyes of the narrator, Fanny Logan, a sensible sort whose sharp observations of the eccentric characters who inhabit her world are brutally funny for their insight and wit.

At the heart of the story, though, is Fanny’s much more glamorous cousin, Linda Radlett. Linda is a hopeless romantic. Raised as many daughters of the nobility were to consider making a good marriage as being the only career available to her, her ideas about love are completely misguided.

And so she embarks on a career as a bit of a ‘bolter’- going from one unsuitable marriage to the next until she meets Fabrice, and her life changes forever.

This book is hedonistic, charming, light as souffle to read and the best way I know of whiling away a few hours. There’s so many terrific characters, from the famously raging Uncle Matthew to the hypochondriac Davy and of course, the sparkling, spell-binding Linda herself.

This is right up there with ‘Brideshead’ as one of those English-aristocracy-between-the-wars kind of novels, but is not nearly so arduous to get through.

If you haven’t read ‘The Pursuit of Love’ yet, you will have a ball when you do. If you have read it, then do admit, Fanny, it’s rather like coming home to old friends, don’t you agree?

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