28 October 2006

Barchester Chronicles (starring Donald Pleasence, Janet Maw and Nigel Hawthorne)

Some friends recommended this BBC drama series highly. I could never quite get into Anthony Trollope's writing, so was rather dubious; but our friends lent us the DVDs, so we decided to watch them over a couple of weeks.

The BBC is almost always good at period drama, and this is no exception. It's slightly galling to admit that a screen adaptation of the six Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope was a great deal more appealing than the books - but there it is.

Once we had started watching, we felt that it was very well done indeed. The story - complex in print, easier in movie form - is of intrigue and jealousies amongst the clergyman of a fictional city, with a bit of love interest along the way. We did a double-take at seeing Nigel Hawthorne playing a somewhat smarmy clergyman - he is so well-known as 'Humphrey' in 'Yes, Minister' that it was hard to see him as anyone else!

The main character is the excellent and almost-too-good-to-be-true Mr Harding (nicely done by Donald Pleasance), but in the latter episodes we all agreed that the villainous Mr Slope rather stole the show, played brilliantly by Alan Rickman. Surely this could easily have been the inspiration that gave him, later on, the part of Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

Unsurprisingly, it was a little long-winded in places and rather slow-moving, but basically 'The Barchester Chronicles' was very enjoyable indeed.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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