Category Archives: Television

Sense and Sensibility – 1981

I have moved on to Sense and Sensibility. I forgot that I had a copy of the 1971 Sense and Sensibility, so I started with the 1981 version.

Sense and Sensibility 1981

Sense and Sensibility 1981

Like all of these older adaptations, it is not particularly beautiful, but this one at least has outdoor scenes. It consists of 7 episodes – each 30 minutes long – and it is quite faithful to the novel (they do get rid of Margaret Dashwood).

Marianne (left) and Elinor

Marianne (left) and Elinor

I thought Irene Richard’s Elinor was great, but Tracy Childs over-enunciated as Marianne (she had obviously had elocution lessons).

Edward Ferras

Edward Ferras


Mr Willoughby

Colonel Brandon

Colonel Brandon

Robert Swann was a great Colonel Brandon, but Alan Rickman is always going to be the definitive Colonel Brandon.

Lucy Steele

Lucy Steele

Mrs John Dashwood (on learning of Lucy's engagement to Edward)

Mrs John Dashwood (on learning of Lucy’s engagement to Edward)

This was a good adaptation, but there is better available now. It is probably only for the die-hard Jane Austen fans.

More reviews …

Sense and Sensibility Movie (1981) – A Review

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Sense and Sensibility 1971

Sense and Sensibility 1971

Sense and Sensibility 1971

I didn’t know about the existence of this adaptation until someone mentioned it in passing at one of our meetings. Of course I decided I must see it.

This is very much ‘old school’ BBC adaptation – filmed on a sound stage with theater actors who feel that they have to act to the back row (or maybe that was how they were directed?). Anyway, if you didn’t like this version of Emma or this Mansfield Park then I suspect you won’t like this version of Sense and Sensibility.

What I don’t understand with adaptations is why the screen writer changes the dialogue? This one is quite close to the novel action wise, but rarely uses Austen’s dialogue (although I am pretty sure Elinor wouldn’t visit Edward at his lodgings!).

The best part of this adaptation was Joanna David as Elinor (she was Mrs Gardiner in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice) and Patricia Routledge (Mrs Bucket – in Keeping Up Appearances) as Mrs Jennings.

The hair styles are hilarious (or horrendous) depending on your sensibilities …


Elinor (in the foreground), Marianne and Mrs Dashwood

Elinor (in the foreground), Marianne and Mrs Dashwood

Edward Ferras

Edward Ferras




Colonel Brandon

Colonel Brandon

Mrs Jennings (on the right) and Mrs Dashwood

Mrs Jennings (on the right) and Mrs Dashwood

I think this one is really only for die-hard Jane Austen fans or people interested in film history.



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Miss Austen Regrets

I resisted buying this DVD  for quite a while. To me it seemed to be a romanticized view of her life. However, I wanted something to watch and nothing else appealed at JB Hifi.

It is a beautiful film – the locations are stunning and the costumes lovely.  The acting is fabulous – how versatile is Hugh Bonneville?

This film is based on the last years of Austen’s life.  To her niece Fanny she is an expert on matters of the heart and she seeks her advice about her admirers. The Jane of this adaptation is witty, flirtatious and a little bit malicious (quite like her letters). The relationship between Cassandra and Jane is warmly affectionate and between her and her mother awful (was Mrs Austen really that vile?).

Although I don’t think this adaptation is accurate, I did enjoy it and I know I will watch it again.

Here are some other reviews …

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Emma the DVD (the new BBC adaptation)

I saw the first episode of this adaptation and thought ‘oh dear!’ and wasn’t sure if I would continue. However, the second episode was better and by the end I was hooked.

The screen play was written by Sandy Welch, who also adapted North and South. As I loved North and South and Emmais my favourite Austen novel, I had high hopes for this adaptation. First, it is beautiful – the locations and costumes are magnificent. It has a very modern feel to it despite the period costumes and I think this is what I didn’t like at first. Also, Romola Garai (who I think is a fabulous actor) doesn’t seem to play Emma with enough dignity – she seems a bit too school girl giggly. I thought Jonny Lee Miller as Mr Knightley was fabulous (possibly the best out of the later Adaptations, i.e Emma 2 (Jeremy Northam) and Emma 3 (Mark Strong)). In fact I thought all of the other actors were excellent.

The dancing at the ball wa a bit too like barn dancing for my liking …

Some more screen shots …


Mrs Elton and Mr Weston picking strawberries.

Emma and Mr Knightley.

Emma and Frank Churchill at Box Hill.

Emma and Mr Knightley …

 If you start watching it and you don’t like it, I recommend persevering because by the end I really liked it and I think it’s now my favourite Emma.

Also, if you live in Australia you can buy it from the BBC store because it is region 2 and 4.

Here is the link to the Internet Movie Database.


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Mansfield Park 1983 BBC

This is a six part adaptation that is very faithful to the novel. It first aired in the UK in 1983. Check out the IMDb site.

To a modern audience familiar with the beautiful recent Austen adaptations, such as Sense and Sensibility, this seems dated and dull. And very quiet – there is no music in the background. It definitely lacks sparkle and prettiness (we need Andrew Davies involved).

Having said that, the acting is brilliant and as the screenplay follows the novel closely, it’s our only choice if we want to watch a faithful adaptation.

Here are some screen shots …

Opening Screen

Young Fanny and Edmund

Fanny Price

Miss Crawford, Edmund and Fanny

Miss Bertram and Mr Crawford

Fanny and Edmund

The Wedding!

Here are some more reviews…

From the Jane Austen Centre

From Screen Online


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Everything Austen Challenge – Jane’s Fame

My first selection in the Everything Austen Challenge was Jane’s Fame – How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman.

I found my copy (under a pile of to-be-dealt-with magazines and books) and I have planned my reading for the month. The book has seven chapters – I plan to read two chapters a week.

In a completely unrelated aside I just finished watching the latest version of Little Dorrit. It was fabulous – if you like a period drama, then you’ll definitely want to see this (and let’s face it you’re reading a blog about Jane Austen so you must like period dramas). You can buy it from the BBC Store and it is in regions 2 and 4 (that means you can watch it in Australia).

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Lost in Austen – Episode 3 and 4 & Northanger Abbey

I saw the last two episodes of Lost in Austen.

I thought it was fabulous and I’m sure Jane Austen would have approved – this is the author who wrote Northanger Abbey I’m sure she would appreciate a tongue in cheek look at her novels (or more particularly the adaptations).

Here are some more links …

 I’m still reading Northanger Abbey (up to chapter 5 now). Here are the bits I’ve loved so far …

On Mrs Allen meeting Mrs Thorpe (Chapter 4)

Their joy on this meeting was very great, as well it might since they had been contented to know nothing of each other for the last fifteen years.

On Catherine and Isabella’s relationship (Chapter 5)

Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of that gentle emotion – but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence should be forced.

And of course the famous ‘defense of the novel’ quote (you can find here – scroll to the end of the chapter).

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