1 September 2020 Susannah

New Adaptations

Kenneth Branagh plays Hercule Poirot

I am excited to hear that a new TV adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love is to be made. It is to star Lily James (who seems to be in every new English TV series at the moment) as Linda, Dominic West and Dolly Wells will be the Radlett parents and Andrew Scott will be Lord Merlin. There will be 3 x 60-minute episodes and it does sound as if the script will remain faithful to the book. I am a huge Mitford fan, and Nancy is my favourite of those crazy sisters, so that’s something to really look forward to. Filming started last month around Bath and Bristol, but no release date has yet been given.

Did you know that a new movie version of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile has recently been made? Kenneth Branagh plays Poirot and there’s a cast of big names – Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Annette Bening and Tom Bateman. It is due for release in October. I wasn’t a huge fan of Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express and just don’t feel he is right as Hercule Poirot, but I’ll go and see it when it comes out. And Christie’s novel The Pale Horse will soon be released as a two-part mini-series, with Rufus Sewell who is always worth watching!

There’s also a new film version of Jack London’s classic adventure tale The Call of the Wild, starring Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens.

2020 is the 50th anniversary of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. His books (which have sold 60 million copies internationally) encouraged thousands to become vets, brought millions of tourists to the Yorkshire Dales, and the original TV series has a special place in the hearts of many (including me). The new series has promised to be faithful to the books and is filmed on location in that especially fabulous part of England, the Yorkshire Dales. Nicholas Ralph will act Herriot (whose real name was Alf Wight) and Samuel West will play Siegfried Farnon.

David Tennant is to star in an adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in 80 Days, Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel Black Narcissus is to be turned into a three-part TV mini-series, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is to have a nine-part mini-series.

Of course, the next challenge is to work out which channel might be streaming these programmes we are keen to watch. It always seems that the only one you do NOT subscribe to is the very channel that streams exactly what you want to watch. Good luck!

Do you find shows are always on a service you don’t subscribe to? Are you keen to see any of these new adaptations? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Kenneth Branagh plays Hercule Poirot (Picture: 20th Century Fox) https://movies.mxdwn.com/reviews/movie-review-murder-on-the-orient-express/
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Comments (19)

  1. Malvina Yock

    Susannah, I did watch The Pale Horse, but cannot comment on how closely it followed the book because I haven’t read it. It was certainly dark, as Sarah Burns comments. I also read The Call of the Wild a few months ago, knowing there was a new movie coming out. I had no idea what happened, so dived in cold. It was a surprisingly savage story. The movie with Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens has a dog that’s CGI, I understand. Also other dogs and wolves. It would have been fairly tricky to stage some of the dog abuse and dog/wolf fight scenes with real animals – and they were vicious indeed. I saw the movie just before lock down began earlier this year. At first the CGI dog distracted me, then I got used to it and forgot about it (most of the time). I am a fairly easy movie critic. Dan Stevens plays ‘dark and angry’ really well; he pretty much goes frothing-at-the-mouth berserk at the end of the movie. To be honest, I’m not sure what audience they aimed the movie at. Was it for children who might read the classic? In my opinion it was too dark and violent; I’ve given my grandson the book but I don’t think the movie is suitable for him yet. For adults? Probably not entirely. It was good to watch, but I wouldn’t rate it as the best movie I’ve ever seen.

    As regards ‘the moustache’ for Hercule Poirot – I’m not a fan. It seemed to take on a life of its own and I couldn’t stop watching it in ‘Orient Express’. Looking forward to the Mitford series.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I do so agree about that dreadful moustache. It just doesn’t look as if it actually grew from that face and looks so fake!
      Thanks for your really interesting comments about Call of the Wild. It does sound very violent, so am not sure I’m all that keen to see Dan Stevens frothing at the mouth.

  2. Margaret Debenham

    I do miss the good old days when most, if not all, of these literary adaptations would have screened on the ABC! I guess I’ll just wait for the DVDs (unless DVDs become obsolete in the next few months, to be replaced by….?).

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Sunday evenings on ABC is when we used to enjoy watching all these lovely classic drama series. It’s just not the same now that they all stream in different places.

  3. Hi Susannah

    Like you, I am looking forward to seeing the new production of Love in a Cold Climate. I expect, as with the two earlier productions, Thames TV in 1980, and BBC in 2001, it will be drawn from both Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love. Also, like you I am a huge fan of both books, and in fact, most of what Nancy Mitford wrote. Her correspondence with Evelyn Waugh is possibly my favourite set of 20th century literary letters.

    I much prefer the 1980 TV adaptation of the Radlett/Hampton saga; Although the late Alan Bates was quite good as Uncle Matthew in the 2001 production, Michael Aldridge was just superb in the role in 1980, and had a wonderful cast around him with Judi Dench as Lady Alconleigh and Dench’s real life husband, the late Michael Williams, as a brilliantly understated Davey Warbeck. I also thought that Michael Cochrane was spot-on as the unspeakable Cedric Hampton.The girls were also better played in 1980, particularly Lucy Guttridge as Linda and Roslyn Landor as Polly, although Elizabeth Dermot Walsh was pretty good as Linda in 2001. For me, the standout of the 2001 production was the ever reliable Celia Imre as Aunt Sadie.

    I am also looking forward to The Pale Horse, as I am a big fan of Rufus Sewell, particularly as Aurelio Zen, and as Ladislaw in Middlemarch, not forgetting his memorable Seth Starkadder in the 1995 Cold Comfort Farm.

    Best wishes

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh Chris, I do always enjoy your emails. I have never read an Aurelio Zen novel, or seen the divine Rufus in the adaptations. What is the series called, and where does one find it?
      I totally agree about the older Judi Dench film version of ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ – they were all superb and the more recent version was generally disappointing. Let’s hope they do those fabulous novels justice in this coming series.
      I have just read the latest Donna Leon and I know you enjoy her too. Have you read Elly Griffith’s Dr Ruth Galloway series? They have helped me through these Covid months and I am in mourning because there are now more until she publishes the next one. All set in Norfolk and great on atmosphere.
      Thanks for your feedback, and stay well.

      • Hi Susannah

        There are 11 Aurelio Zen novels written by Michael Dibdin between 1988 and 2007. The series was ended by Dibdin’s death. The eleven books are sequential and do become more and more noir in their outlook. They are set in Italy where Zen investigates politically sensitive cases, and he is always an outsider, both within his own police force and to the government and in the localities where the books are set. The first book, Ratking won a Golden Dagger and is set in Perugia, where Dibdin had lived and worked at the International University.

        Unlike the marvellous Donna Leon-Guido Brunetti books, where Venice is always front and centre, (indeed the books are really about living in Venice), Dibdin keeps having Zen transferred to different parts of Italy, usually under some sort of political cloud, thus allowing the reader to explore a different part of Italian life and culture. The books take Zen to Rome, Bologna, Sicily, Sardinia, Alto Adige, Venice, Napoli and Tuscanny. The book set in Naples, Cosi Fan Tutte , has a delicious sub-plot which parallels and parodies the Mozart Opera. It is one of my favourites, but they are all good. They are best read in order of publication. They are in print still with Penguin / Random House, although I have them all in the Faber & Faber first editions in dust jacket, several signed by Dibdin.

        The first three books (Ratking, Vendetta, Cabal) form the basis of three telemovies from 2011, starring the divine Rufus, with the stunning Caterina Murino as his love interest. They are fantastic, largely shot in and around Rome. The series was then, unbelievably to me, cancelled as the then BBC One controller thought that there were too many male crime fighters on TV at the time! The three films are available as a DVD set, and we have watched them several times with great enjoyment. Rufus was just superb as Zen. A great mistake by the Beeb.

        Do try the books… they are much tougher in tone than Donna Leon or Martin Walker but I think as a lover of Italy, you will enjoy them. And the films are stunning.. my dear wife just sits and drools over Rufus!

        Best wishes

  4. Brian Doyle

    OMG Susannah what on earth does Dominic West have glued to his face it looks like it should be out in the vegetable patch munching on the cabbages. Why oh why is is so often the case that stylists get the hair so wrong, I find it so confronting that I simply can’t focus on anything else especially if it’s around mouths and is constantly moving 😱😱😱
    Am however looking forward to a new treatment of a favourite book, wouldn’t Nancy be thrilled, let’s hope we are on her behalf.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I have also been much bigged by hair in some recent productions, so much be even more the case for you! In ‘Sanditon’ the heroine had hers out almost the whole time, all messy and wind-blown, while everyone else had their hair up. I think they feel it is going to appeal more to young girls if the hair is more ‘modern’.
      I hope they don’t stuff up the new Mitford – such a gorgeous book!

  5. Sandra Beckett

    Thank you for this! I’m disappointed Kenneth Branagh is once more repriving Hercule Poirot. He did not fit the character in Death on the Nile at all. Why, oh why, do the Americans think they can do better with their adaptions (even with a British actor)? I seriously wonder that anyone with intelligence could possibly think they could do better than David Suchet.

    I had hoped some channel or screening service would offer the original ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ series during lockdown, so will be interested in the new series being made. A new Mitford series would be most welcome, too.

    By the way, I’ve just downloaded ‘Travels with my Aunt’ to re-read after many years. Looking forward to it.

    • Sandra Beckett

      Oops – sorry – I meant ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, not ‘Death on the Nile’, in my comment.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I hope you enjoy rereading ‘Travels – such fun.
      I agree that it takes a brave, or foolish, person to take on the role of Poirot, when David Suchet was just so perfect in the part. But we will see if it’s any better than ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

  6. Carol Hampson

    I am so pleased to hear of the new series of The Pursuit of Love. It’s such a favourite of mine – I have that and Love In a Cold Climate, also Don’t Tell Alfred on my ipod and listen to them over and over.

  7. Maria Zannetides

    So good to know that filming is happening during the pandemic and that there are quite a few new productions to look forward to. I imagined that with all the binge watching I indulged in during lockdown, I’d eventually run out of good things to watch. You’re right about shows of interest often being on a streaming service you don’t have. I’m told the way around it is to subscribe to a particular service for a month or two, watch what you’d like to see then unsubscribe. I haven’t taken that advice myself yet but I’m planning to try it so that I can watch Hamilton on Disney+

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for your comments, Maria. I tried that technique with Acorn TV, but then found lots I wanted to watch so have stuck with it and pay a small fee each month.
      Happy watching.

  8. Sarah Burns

    The new adaptation of The Pale Horse was recently shown on the ABC and was very different to the book. Rufus Sewell was gorgeous but he played a much darker character than was written. Beautifully filmed and a great cast but confusing when you know the original story.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for letting me know, Sarah. I will have to reread the book as it is one I haven’t read for many years.

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