Friday 22 May 2015

the Silvered Heart blog tour - Katherine's Top Ten costume dramas

Today I am delighted to host Katherine Clements on my blog; author of the Silvered Heart: 

1648: Civil war is devastating England. The privileged world of Katherine Ferrers is crumbling under Cromwell's army and, as an orphaned heiress, she has no choice but to marry for the sake of her family. But as her marraige turns in to a prison and her fortune is forfeit, Katherine becomes increasingly desperate. So when she meets a man who shows her a way out, she seizes the chance. It is dangerous and brutal, and she knows if they're caught, there's only one way it can end... The mystery of Lady Katherine Ferrers, legendary highwaywoman, has captured the collective imagination of generations. Now, based on the real woman, the original 'Wicked Lady' is brought gloriously to life in this tale of infatuation, betrayal and survival.

 My Top Ten Costume Dramas
Katherine Clements

As soon as I sat down to write this post I regretted suggesting the subject. How can I pick just ten?! For as long as I can remember I’ve loved watching anything with period costumes. Escaping into the past has always been one of my favourite ways to unwind and feeds my passion for all things historical. Watching history – whether original drama or literary adaptation – allows me to witness someone else’s version, and someone else’s vision of history. It’s influenced my writing too. My novels have been described as ‘cinematic’ and ‘visual’ and I can always see scenes unfolding before me, exactly as if I were watching onscreen. 

There are far too many fantastic examples to pick only ten, including such recent glories as Wolf Hall, Peaky Blinders and Ripper Street, so I’ve decided to share some all-time favourites – those that still make it into the DVD player whenever I need a fix. So, in no particular order…

Jane Eyre (BBC TV series, 2006)
There have been many adaptations of this Brontë classic, with many merits, but this is my favourite. The two leads, Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens, bring Jane and Rochester to life with wit, chemistry and just enough menacing darkness to capture the gothic mood of the book without sliding into clichéd melodrama.

The Devil’s Whore (Channel 4 TV series 2008)
This stunning whirlwind tour of the English Civil War has a special place in my heart. The impressive cast is what puts this above others – Peter Capaldi’s Charles I is my favorite portrayal ever – along with dark, gritty production design that suits the story. It’s rich in depth and detail and, for me, improved on second watching. An entertaining romp through the complicated politics of the period.

A Room with a View (Film, 1985)
This is the film that got me hooked on costume drama and I’ve watched it countless times. The acting is occasionally questionable, but that doesn’t matter. There’s something spellbinding about this adaptation of the E.M Forster novel. Twenty years ago I travelled to Florence, alone and by train, because of this film. I couldn’t afford a room with a view – that one is still on my bucket list.

Pride and Prejudice (BBC TV series, 1995)
Because it rightly deserves its place on just about every ‘best costume drama’ list you’ll find on the Internet. This classic stands repeated watching and I’ll still go back to it, like an old comfort blanket. The definitive adaptation.

Sense and Sensibility (Film, 1995)
1995 was clearly the year for Austen adaptations. Emma Thompson’s Oscar winning script and star turns from Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and others result in a perfectly pitched adaptation. This one wins when I need cheering up. While the BBC series penned by Andrew Davies (2008) is also extremely good, and probably more true to the book, this movie version pips it at the post, but only just.

Brideshead Revisited (Granada TV series, 1981)
Back in the days when TV producers were allowed to make long, meandering series this was a huge ratings hit, and rightly so. With time and space to do justice to Waugh’s languid, sweeping novel, this is one to get lost in.  

North and South (BBC TV series, 2004)
Brooding Northern mills. Brooding Richard Armitage. There’s plenty of brooding going on in this adaptation of the Gaskell classic. A forerunner of more recent ‘it’s grim up North’ series like The Village and The Mill, this adaptation is notable for understated performances and strikes a good balance between gritty realism and sentiment.

Bleak House (BBC TV series, 2005)
Another BBC adaptation and another Andrew Davies script. I don’t always get on with Dickens but this one is pure class. An impressive cast makes light work of great dialogue, with memorable performances from the leads (this is where I fell for Gillian Anderson). And the whole is lifted further by stunning production design.

Remains of the Day (Film, 1993)
Another Merchant Ivory classic, based on the Ishiguro novel, it’s the performances from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson that make this. One for melancholy days under the duvet with a mug of something hot. Pure, heartbreaking quality.

Gosford Park (Film, 2001)
Before Downton Abbey, there was Gosford Park. This sumptuous murder mystery has many-layered depths, plenty of heart, and a clever, dry wit that Downton lacks. And it looks stunning too. Julian Fellows at his best.

Yesterday on the blog tour:
Tomorrow on the blog tour:

 the Silvered Heart was released  by Headline on 7 May 2015. You can read my review here.
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Thank you to Katherine Clements and Headline/Bookbridgr for allowing me to take part in the Silvered Heart blog tour.

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