In 1814 England, 27-year old Anne Elliot lives an oppressive life with her father, Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall, and her elder sister Elizabeth, both of whom are incurable snobs. Eight and a half years ago, Anne been persuaded to refuse an offer of marriage from the man she loved, a young naval officer of no position or fortune. Now, after the Napoleonic wars, Captain Wentworth has gained both rank and money, and chance has thrown them together again. Anne finds herself confronted with thoughts of might-have-been as she watches Wentworth court her brother-in-law's sister, Louisa. But an accident causes Wentworth to realize whom he truly cares for, and he follows Anne to Bath. But her cousin William (the heir to Kellynch Hall) is also pursuing her and is rumored to be engaged to Anne. She must overcome this last obstacle before she can persuade Captain Wentworth as to the true nature of her affections.

From The Stage, May 4, 1995, by Adrian Dawson

"Another chance to see" is usually a euphemism for "Oh God, not this cobblers again". BBC's Auntie's Bloomers is slightly different in that it takes old bits from TV shows which have gone wrong - It'll Be Alright on the Night fronted by Terry Wogan, basically.

These sort of shows have a massive fascination, with almost 12 million people tuning in. Its popularity must be something to do with seeing people we recognise from television cocking things up and being fallible, although it's a bit much when a programme which is essentially odds and sods from the cutting room floor is making more of a mark than most new ones.

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (Channel 4) continues to enjoy goodish figures for its rerun while the makers of the acclaimed version of Persuasion must surely be a little disappointed with the paltry 3.84 million viewers who tuned in. It's not as if there was any football on the other side to nab them.

Persuasion was an excellent vibrant piece of television, with Ciarán Hinds excelling. Austin's sarcasm and vicious wit came to the fore, showing why she's still read today.

Ciarán Hinds wins the Robert Carlyle Award for popping up in everything. He was in A Village Affair (*), Rules of Engagement, Sam Shepard's new play Simpatico and he's problably playing the spoons on Boo Radley's latest album for all I know.

(*)Note of the Webmaster: probably The Affair

From The Stage, April 24, 1995

No Persuasion needed to watch quality

Not having read Jane Austen's Persuasion (BBC2, Sunday, April 16, 10pm), I came to Nick Dear's adaptation for Screen Two with few preconceptions and found it a satisfying experience, not least for the excellence of acting throughout.

Set in the West Country after Napoleonic Wars, it concerned the family of the foppish Sir Walter Elliot (Corin Redgrave). A financially stretched widower with three daughters, he is persuaded by the devious Lady Russell (Susan Fleetwood) to retrench from the family seat to a town house in Bath.

The story centred on the second daughter, Anne, and events following the return of her former fiance, Captain Wentworth. Amanda Root was ideally cast as Anne while Ciarán Hinds, who so impressed as the autocratic Mr Stacey in Seaforth, gave a nicely restrained performance as the gallant Captain.

Apart from some initial difficulty in establishing just who was who, it proved a fascinating film. Above all it was a triumph of production values, highlighted by John Daly's photography and director Roger Michell's attention to detail. From the expressions on the faces on the footmen, to the food served at table, everything appeared just right.

Character: Captain Wentworth
Co-stars: Amanda Root, Fiona Shaw, Susan Fleetwood and Corin Redgrave
Director: Roger Mitchell
Screenplay: Nick Dear
Run-time: 107 mn
Release date: 27 Dec. 1995 (USA)

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