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Source: (consider it) Thread: Period Television
bib
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# 13074

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There is so much rubbish on tv that I bought and have been enjoying some classics,including:
Barchester Chronicles
Judge John Deed
Inspector Morse
Jane Austen series
The Sullivans
To Serve Them All My Days
Cadfael
just to name a few.

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"My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring"

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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I have just noticed Ilya Kuryakin is 83.

I need to go away and whimper.

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Callan
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# 525

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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
Has anybody mention I Claudius, made by the BBC forty years ago! I have the five disc set and it is so "meaty" that I can't watch more than one episode at a time. Then again, with that cast (Derek Jacobi, George Baker, John Hurt, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed and Patrick Stewart in a minor role plus many more) and story it was bomb proof.

It is fantastic. The sequel was that the BBC attempted to recreate the high production values (for the seventies, there's a reason that scenes at the amphitheatre concentrate on the Imperial box), top actors, intrigue, violence and nookie and produced first 'The Cleopatras' (which is available on YouTube and, utterly dire) and then 'The Borgias' (not to be confused with the later series with Jeremy Irons) which pretty much did for the genre and got a diplomatic protest from the Vatican along the way. The Spiritual Heir, such as it is, is probably Game Of Thrones with high production values, top actors, intrigue, violence and nookie - the fantasy bit is not irrelevant given the role of the Sybil, astrologers, the death of Herod and so forth.

Amusingly Mrs Callan has a personal trainer called Livia. Not being a fan of I, Claudius, I had to explain that there was a scene when the original Livia poisons BRIAN BLESSED! and the scene is superb because of really subtle acting where he doesn't actually get to say anything which, let's face it, is not what we really associate with BRIAN BLESSED! A few weeks later I was asked: "Will you look after the Callanette, so I can go to a nutrition evening with Livia?"
"Don't touch the figs!"

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Brenda Clough
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If you want a better update of the same material, the HBO series ROME was excellent. So expensive that alas they were unable to finish it properly, though.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Nicolemr
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# 28

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I, Claudius was amazing. I remembered it from when it was first on, and then got the box set when it came out and it was just as good if not better than I remembered.

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

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Piglet
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
Has anybody mention I Claudius ...

Although I was only in my early teens when I Claudius was first aired, I still think it was one of the best things the Beeb ever did, and would certainly watch it again given the chance.

Is it my imagination, or were they much bolder in what they could show in those days than they are now? From my memory, it left very little to the imagination, but I have no memory of them giving warnings about the content before each episode, as they'd do nowadays.*

* When BBC Canada broadcast Top Gear it gets a "coarse language" warning, presumably because James May occasionally says "bugger".
[Killing me]

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I may not be on an island any more, but I'm still an islander.
alto n a soprano who can read music

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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I was struck with how they did very little with a lot in CLAUDIUS. I remember the riot scene, which was essentially 4 guys in a corridor yelling.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Penny S
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First time round,I am sure that the death of Caligula's sister was shown in some way, but in the recent repeat, the door into the room was not passed.
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Eigon
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Firenze, can I join you in the whimpering corner? I remember practicing very hard to be able to say Ilya Kuriakin, and I liked him much better than Napoleon Solo.

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Never cruel nor cowardly.
Never give up, never give in.
The Doctor's Promise

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Doone
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Me too [Tear]
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Golden Key
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# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by Firenze:
I have just noticed Ilya Kuryakin is 83.

I need to go away and whimper.

If this is the actor, David Callum, rather than the character, he's a darn good 83. (For anyone who doesn't know, he plays Dr. Mallard on "NCIS". If you've never watched it, "Ducky" has been on it since the beginning--so you've got years' worth of episodes to binge-watch! [Smile] )

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Piglet
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# 11803

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
First time round,I am sure that the death of Caligula's sister was shown in some way, but in the recent repeat, the door into the room was not passed.

It was indeed; I can still see John Hurt's blond beard covered in blood ... [Eek!]

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"It's not so much the toes", said Piglet, "as the ears". A. A. Milne
I may not be on an island any more, but I'm still an islander.
alto n a soprano who can read music

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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Correction: the actor who played Ilya is David McCallum. Sorry.

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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Fredegund
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# 17952

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Another one whimpering in the David McCallum corner. And why does noone bring back "Sapphire & Steel?" Wonderful rubbish for a wet Saturday.

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Pax et bonum

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Bob Two-Owls
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quote:
Originally posted by Piglet:
It was indeed; I can still see John Hurt's blond beard covered in blood ... [Eek!]

I watched the DVD at the weekend, you see plenty of her chained up but after the screaming starts the remains of the scene are Caligula saying "don't go in there, don't go in there", Clavdivs poking his head through the door and clucking in a horrified manner and then the trumpets herald the credits before the door swings open enough to see what has happened.
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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Fredegund:
Another one whimpering in the David McCallum corner. And why does noone bring back "Sapphire & Steel?" Wonderful rubbish for a wet Saturday.

One of the most unnerving and utterly gripping series on television. It was quite low budget but what they could do with a deserted set and a bunch of shadows still has me spooked when I think about it. The only one that descended into bathos was the one with the killer leg of lamb. Pure gold otherwise.

[ 21. September 2016, 11:29: Message edited by: Ariel ]

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Penny S
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# 14768

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I tried posting 'me too' yesterday, but got flood reliefed.

I ended up not liking Sapphire and Steel. I wanted explanations of how that world worked. And I wanted some care for the people who had been harmed.

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Eigon
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I don't remember a killer leg of lamb! The Sapphire and Steel story on the railway station was good.
I don't normally watch stuff like NCIS, but I do like Ducky and the Goth scientist girl, and I did like the joke they did in one episode when the younger characters were wondering what Ducky looked like when he was younger, and one of them said "Ilya Kuriakin!"

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Never cruel nor cowardly.
Never give up, never give in.
The Doctor's Promise

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Eigon:
the Goth scientist girl,

sigh Abby...

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And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Eigon:
I don't remember a killer leg of lamb!

My memory of the episode is as follows (so this may not be strictly accurate):

There was a couple living in a flat some kind of a time capsule, possibly with a baby. I think they'd come from the future. They'd stocked up on 20th century provisions including a leg of lamb, but the leg of lamb got annoyed, accumulated some bits from other animals, gnawed a hole in the wall of the flat and hid in it, only slithering out at night in a menacing way. Sapphire and Steel were called in to investigate the strange goings on. I don't remember what happened, only that the slithering leg of lamb was quite repulsive and didn't take kindly to being disintegrated by S&S.

I may well have conflated this with other bits of the main plot but that's how I remember it.

The railway station assignment had me totally on the edge of my seat and is still a good warning about the dangers of resentment.

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Penny S
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The railway station one was when I decided I didn't like it.
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Baptist Trainfan
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People are going to start talking about "The Prisoner" next ... surreal Sunday night television!
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Nicolemr
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A personal admission... I'm in organized Starsky and Hutch fandom. Anyone else remember them fondly? It's not a great show but a heck of a lot of fun. And I had such a crush on Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky) when I was a teen, and he still looks pretty good..

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

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Ariel
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# 58

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A lot of girls did. I remember the posters!

So: Bodie or Doyle, then?
(This would be from "The Professionals".)

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Athrawes
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
People are going to start talking about "The Prisoner" next ... surreal Sunday night television!

I hope so! The Prisoner was great! Love the mind games, and the use of fractured nursery rhymes. And Rover was quite menacing, even as a balloon...

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Explaining why is going to need a moment, since along the way we must take in the Ancient Greeks, the study of birds, witchcraft, 19thC Vaudeville and the history of baseball. Michael Quinion.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Well, I'm sure it benefited Portmeirion's visitor numbers!
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Bob Two-Owls
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# 9680

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I have fond memories of glueing white trim to my school blazer with copydex after the 80s repeats.

I actually shouted "I am not a number, I am a free man" as the cane was administered [Hot and Hormonal]

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Teekeey Misha
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# 18604

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In terms of "old TV series" (as opposed to "period television"), I watch a lot of old comedy series, especially when I am in a period of sitting alone with the black dog and just can't bring myself to do anything much at all. In this last week, I have watched all the extant episodes of "All gas and gaiters" and every episode of "It ain't 'alf hot mum".

Both (to my mind) are hilariously funny and yet... they're not. If they were made again today, I just don't think we'd see them as funny (a view that was confirmed recently by watching some of the "Lost Sitcoms" series on BBC2.) I don't know why that is. Perhaps when watching something made in the 70s/80s we transport ourselves back mentally to "where we were as people" in the 70s/80s?

I love period telly but, I'm afraid, I am one of those geeky historians who makes lists of the historically inaccurate bits and posts angry comments on bulletin boards. ("Did I really just see Jane Austen's Lord Netherswizzle eat a Rowntree's Fruit Pastille when such confectionery wasn't invented until 1881..?")

In terms of bad period drama, I seriously think "Upstairs Downstairs" might have been the worst period drama ever created, ever. I adore it. Have every episode on DVD, can tell you every plotline and character biography, and become utterly engrossed when viewing. Go figure!

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Misha
Don't assume I don't care; sometimes I just can't be bothered to put you right.

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Though when I titled the thread I was thinking of TV that was contemporary at the time but now belongs to history. Which includes those eras' representations of the yet further past - which, as has been noted above, are as likely now to evoke the period in which they were made as much, or more, than the one they purport to be about.
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Brenda Clough
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Why was Upstairs, Dowstairs bad period TV? Costuming/sets, or social situations?

In the latter, I absolutely deplore novels in which, mysteriously, medieval nuns seem to have read Betty Friedan, or Julius Caesar knows the principles of double-entry bookkeeping. There is nothing to be done about historicity of this sort on screen, however -- that's just too big a fence for Hollywood to jump.

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Penny S
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I live in an architect devised and partly designed Village, with a Village Association. Occasionally I make jokes about the difficulty of getting in and out, and large balloons, and they fall absolutely flat! (I wish we did have Rovers, as we need some sanctions against people whose freedoms include interfering with others'. As in "what's wrong with my parking in front of your garage, you can come and ask whenever you want to use it?")

Anyway, the memory of "The Prisoner" does not seem to exist here.

[ 22. September 2016, 14:56: Message edited by: Penny S ]

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Teekeey Misha
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# 18604

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Why was Upstairs, Dowstairs bad period TV? Costuming/sets, or social situations?

I don't think it was "bad period tv" so much as bad drama. Some of the plotlines were... shall we say "strange"?

I remember watching 'USDS' with my late grandmother, who had been in service in that same Edwardian-1930s era (before "marrying above herself".) In her (professional?) opinion, the Bellamy's household was an unfeasibly "big happy family". When Grandma was a lady's maid, most of the servants had never engaged in "meaningful conversation" with members of the family (and vice versa) but at 165 Eton Place they were all constantly confiding in each other. When Grandma later became housekeeper in a larger household, most of the servants had never even engaged in meaningful conversation with the butler and housekeeper, let alone the family.

It is, I suppose, much like Downton Abbey, which I also love but which is also horribly unrealistic. All those members of the family falling over themselves to help and "understand" the servants when, in reality, they would scarcely have known most of the servants existed. (It's set, after all, in a time not long after minor servants had to turn and face the wall when members of the family walked into a room!)

[TRUE STORY (unless Grandma was a liar!)]
In Grandma's first job, the Mistress (M, Lady D) at least knew the names of the servants. Her husband (Sir ED) addressed female servants as "I say... <cough>.. you there" and male servants as "I say... <cough>... you boy". The exception was the butler, who had been there since Sir E was a lad, and was addressed as "I say... <cough>... {surname}." In the early 20s, he once appeared in the drawing room before dinner, clutching an unfortunate youth by the collar and said to his wife, "I just found this boy in the dining room!" to which she (who knew her husband well) replied, "That's not a boy, dear. It's a footman. Put it back!"
[/TRUE STORY]

Edited: Under-bracketing

[ 22. September 2016, 16:42: Message edited by: Teekeey Misha ]

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Misha
Don't assume I don't care; sometimes I just can't be bothered to put you right.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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Oh, that's hysterical. But you can see why the scriptwriters have created such an un-period coziness between the servants and masters. Not only does this make it understandable to viewers, but this allows for much more plot generation. If you can always count upon a maid to rat out the naughty daughter's shenanigans to her papa Lord X, that keeps the story going.

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Eigon
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# 4917

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Thanks lilBuddha - of course it's Abby in NCIS!

And in Starsky and Hutch, I fancied Hutch (I even bought David Soul's record!).
In the Professionals I preferred Martin Shaw because the chap who played Bodie had previously been an obnoxious lodger in a sit com called the Cuckoo Waltz.
Oh, and Pete Duel in Alias Smith and Jones!

and Rover in the Prisoner terrified me as a child!

--------------------
Never cruel nor cowardly.
Never give up, never give in.
The Doctor's Promise

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Capability Brown was not, AFAIK, a Quaker, yet in a not-that-long-ago dramatisation he is represented as talking to his aristocratic employer with his hat on.
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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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Yes, all these period courtesies are becoming lost. The etiquette of gloves, when on and when off, is gone, and in our lifetime probably the zen of cigarettes (who lights them for whom with what) will go.

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M.
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And in 'Victoria' which is on at the moment, the congregation clapped when she and dear Albert got married, and she threw her bouquet.

(Wait to be told this is my ignorance, and they were both traditions that subsequently stopped and were started again very recently)

M.

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Yes, all these period courtesies are becoming lost. The etiquette of gloves, when on and when off, is gone, and in our lifetime probably the zen of cigarettes (who lights them for whom with what) will go.

Yes, although have you noticed how Directors deliberately include smoking in 1930s/50s "gritty" dramas as a way of establishing the period? Of course many more people did smoke then, but they seem to make a point of it.
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Fredegund
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# 17952

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The Professionals _ Doyle, of course.
But he's aged awfully well too, think of the later P D James adaptations.

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Pax et bonum

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Fredegund:
The Professionals _ Doyle, of course.
But he's aged awfully well too, think of the later P D James adaptations.

Martin Shaw as Chauvelin in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is one of his best performances, IMO. If I'd been Marguerite I'd unhesitatingly have dumped Sir Percy and gone off with him.
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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Martin Shaw as Chauvelin in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is one of his best performances, IMO. If I'd been Marguerite I'd unhesitatingly have dumped Sir Percy and gone off with him.

As against Richard E Grant* - totally no contest.

*miscast in any case.

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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There's a steadily-evolving set of signals that directors use, to broadly indicate character. Smoking is a fine example. It starts out fairly high-class (cigars with his lordship in the library!) and becomes racier (Lauren Bacall and cigarette). We are now in the days when if you want to indicate a villain you have him abuse animals, children or women, and smoke. Even in period dramas, as you note, not everybody smokes. I bet if you tallied it up you'd find that only the more dubious characters do -- but only in works made in this century. It's instructive to go back, and read say a Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Heroine Harriet Vane smokes like a chimney, and no one remarks on it.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by Teekeey Misha:
quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Why was Upstairs, Dowstairs bad period TV? Costuming/sets, or social situations?

I don't think it was "bad period tv" so much as bad drama. Some of the plotlines were... shall we say "strange"?

I remember watching 'USDS' with my late grandmother, who had been in service in that same Edwardian-1930s era (before "marrying above herself".) In her (professional?) opinion, the Bellamy's household was an unfeasibly "big happy family". When Grandma was a lady's maid, most of the servants had never engaged in "meaningful conversation" with members of the family (and vice versa) but at 165 Eton Place they were all constantly confiding in each other. When Grandma later became housekeeper in a larger household, most of the servants had never even engaged in meaningful conversation with the butler and housekeeper, let alone the family.

It is, I suppose, much like Downton Abbey, which I also love but which is also horribly unrealistic. All those members of the family falling over themselves to help and "understand" the servants when, in reality, they would scarcely have known most of the servants existed. (It's set, after all, in a time not long after minor servants had to turn and face the wall when members of the family walked into a room!)

[TRUE STORY (unless Grandma was a liar!)]
In Grandma's first job, the Mistress (M, Lady D) at least knew the names of the servants. Her husband (Sir ED) addressed female servants as "I say... <cough>.. you there" and male servants as "I say... <cough>... you boy". The exception was the butler, who had been there since Sir E was a lad, and was addressed as "I say... <cough>... {surname}." In the early 20s, he once appeared in the drawing room before dinner, clutching an unfortunate youth by the collar and said to his wife, "I just found this boy in the dining room!" to which she (who knew her husband well) replied, "That's not a boy, dear. It's a footman. Put it back!"
[/TRUE STORY]

Edited: Under-bracketing

[Killing me] [Killing me] [Killing me]

I read a lot of golden age crime fiction and they all reference the fact that the servants are "invisible".

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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L'organist
Shipmate
# 17338

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posted by M.
quote:
And in 'Victoria' which is on at the moment, the congregation clapped when she and dear Albert got married, and she threw her bouquet.
A friend who works in TV tells me that the reason for that sort of thing being waved through is so they can more easily sell it to The Americans.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
There's a steadily-evolving set of signals that directors use, to broadly indicate character.

In (older) Disney movies, among others, an upper-class English accent often identified the villain.
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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
# 619

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Hmmm. And would that be why Mr Darcy has to go about in a wet shirt, and Mr Poldark in no shirt at all?

I don't know that public taste is any more degraded on the other side of the Atlantic than on this.

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Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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But of course. Not that there's a -problem-, mind you.

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Callan
Shipmate
# 525

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Originally posted by Tubbs:

quote:
I read a lot of golden age crime fiction and they all reference the fact that the servants are "invisible".
You also have characters like Jeeves (ok not crime), Lugg and Bunter who are indispensable right hand men to the protagonists.

I think that there was a change after WWII when people did feel a need to be polite to the servants and this may have informed how they were portrayed on TV by people who had grown up in those environments. I remember an interview with Sian Phillips who played Livia in I, Claudius, who said that she found it terribly hard to blank the slaves when she was required to because it went against her upbringing.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Penny S
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# 14768

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My sister, when elevated to Oxford High Tables, made a point of not blanking the staff she had met while teaching at a local comp, as blanking is still customary.

Agatha Christie and Noel Coward (Blithe Spirit) do not blank servants, but do treat them as stupid, rather than ill educated.

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georgiaboy
Shipmate
# 11294

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Not as bad as a terrible film I once saw in which Jesus only spoke in quotes from the Authorised Version while the disciples used 1950s American slang. I guess it was meant to be "contemporary" but that its makers felt held back from altering the words of our Lord himself.

Was that the same film that showed Jesus on the cross with shaved armpits?
sounds like it might have been!

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You can't retire from a calling.

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