Thank you very much Maria Grazia for asking me to take part in this – I’m honoured. OK, a short introduction - I come from Suffolk in England, a beautiful part of the country. I've lived here most of my life but did work in Germany for a time as an au pair when I was young. I'm 49 and have been married to Paul for 25 years - we have two children, a daughter of 20 and a son of 16. I am a sub-editor on a local paper - that means I'm a trained journalist but mainly do page layouts and edit reports rather than writing my own stuff. I did write and edit the paper's TV pages for many years, but sadly never visited the sets of any costume dramas. I've been fascinated by 19th-century literature ever since I discovered Dickens and Charlotte Bronte as a child - they are still among my favourite authors. I also love visiting old country houses, stately homes etc (there are quite a few in my part of the country!) , and imagining what it was like when people lived there, both above and below stairs. I did an English lit degree at university and in recent years have kept up my interest by discussing books on the net and writing my blog on costume dramas. I also have another blog on 1930s and 40s films, which are another interest.
When did you start blogging and why? Do you remember what your first post was about?
I started my costume dramas blog in November 2008, after writing about old movies for a few months on another blog. I wanted somewhere that I could keep and share my reviews of the films and dramas I love, and also where I could put together the pictures and stills I love to collect. The first posts I put up were rewritings of bits and pieces I’d posted on Livejournal, about the recent ITV productions of Jane Austen novels, Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
What did blogging add to your real life?
A chance to get away from real life at times and escape into another world! Also it has helped me to discover other people’s blogs and make friends with people around the world who have similar interests to mine.
Why do you blog about period drama or old films? A bad relationship with the present? (something I can sympathize with …) Don’t you like modern /contemporary drama?
I’ve always had a tendency to live in the past, I suppose, which might suggest a bad relationship with the present day at times, though I’d prefer to see it more positively as a love of history – in fact ‘Living in the Past‘ was the name of my Livejournal before I started up the two blogs I have now! The 19th century in particular has always had a strong attraction for me, I suppose because I admire so many authors from that period and they got me interested in watching adaptations too. I do like modern/ contemporary drama productions too, but there tend to be a lot of reviews of those, whereas with old films and period drama it is sometimes a bit easier to find something new to say.
Which is your favourite historical period?
I’ve just mentioned the 19th century, which is my real passion, because that is when many of my favourite authors lived - plus when I was a child in the 1960s and 70s I would sometimes look at older people in my village and realise they must actually remember the late Victorian period. I don’t think I ever had the nerve to ask them about their memories of those days, though, sadly. I’m also increasingly interested in the 18th century as I’ve got into some authors from that period – plus I also enjoy watching dramas set in the early years of the 20th century, from the First World War up to the 1930s and 40s. And I also enjoy many productions set in much earlier periods, the Middle Ages, Tudors and Stuarts, etc, etc – and in other parts of the world, like France, Russia, India, etc.
What about reading? What kind of reader are you? Have you got favourite authors/genres?
BBC WIVES AND DAUGHTERS 1999). I do also enjoy a lot of modern authors –but I’ve never really got into modern sequels to classics, though I have read a few of these.
I do like detective stories – Golden Age writers like Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham are among my favourites, and both of these also have great TV adaptations. Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter are perfect as Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I also like some historical detective stories being written now and would love to find more good authors in this genre - Caro Peacock, who writes the Liberty Lane mysteries set in the early 19th century, is one of my favourites though she hasn’t published anything for a little while. At the moment I’m just reading The Winter Garden Mystery, one of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries by Carola Dunn, about a magazine reporter investigating a murder in rural 1920s England - enjoying it so far.
Is there any TV series you have particularly liked watching recently? What about your favourite movies from the past instead?
Your reviews are always thorough and pretty accurate. How long does it usually take to write one?
Thank you, MG! I haven’t really kept count of how long each one takes, but, if I’m honest, much longer than they ought to – they sometimes take me ages as I keep going back to rewrite something and make my point a bit better! I’d like to speed up a bit so I can cover more ground and update my blog more often, like you do, but I will probably always be a slow writer.
Have you heard of a new Jane Eyre? Don’t you think we’ve just had a good adaptation in 2006( or was it 2007?) Don’t you think they should start proposing new titles for the adaptations of classics? Would you like to suggest any title? Who would you cast in the main roles?
I loved the Sandy Welch version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (shown in 2006 in the UK, 2007 in most other countries I believe), though I haven’t got round to writing that one up yet – a good excuse to watch it yet again! There have been plenty of other good versions too – I liked the one with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton too. I’m slightly disappointed to see the TV and movie powers-that-be remaking this great novel yet again instead of going for something different, though I suppose on the plus side at least it will be a major costume drama – they seem to be an endangered species these days!
I’d love to see a TV version of Villette, which I know you are reading at the moment – not sure who I would cast as Lucy Snowe, though. I’d also love to see a remake of A Tale of Two Cities as it is one of my favourites and it has been a long time since the last version starring James Wilby – what I’d really like is to see a production where the same actor plays Carton and Darnay, as I think that would be very interesting. I know there was an American version which did this (I think Chris Sarandon starred) but I’ve never seen it.
I totally agree with you! I'd love to see Villette adapted and a new A Tale of the Cities. And... do you like going to the cinema or do you prefer watching old movies and TV series on DVD?
I love going to the cinema and think that is the best way to see a movie made for the big screen, but I do enjoy watching movies and shows on DVD too. I was lucky enough to see a couple of Bette Davis’ films on the big screen to mark her centenary, and Jezebel in particular was so much more powerful than it seems on TV.
You decided to give away an audiobook, one I really appreciate, for widely known (to my readers) reasons. I ‘ve discovered audiobooks only recently, what about you? What do you think of them? Why did you choose this one ?
The audiobook I am giving away is Robin Hood: The Witchfinders, read by Richard Armitage.
I had been thinking of giving away a DVD but decided that could cause difficulties because of the region1/region 2 coding problem. Fortunately audiobooks will play in any country, so this offer can be open worldwide! This copy is “almost new” , ie I have listened to it once.:) Like you, Maria Grazia, I have also got into audiobooks only recently.
I liked the last two series of Robin Hood (never really got into the first series), and this is an interesting audiobook because it is set at the start of series three, but it is not an episode which was actually made, so it adds something to the series. It’s also an episode which focuses especially on the character of Guy and his grief and guilt, and, as an added bonus, there is an interview with Richard at the end. And the theme of Witchfinders is interesting to me since I come from the area where the real-life Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, had his reign of terror.
Really? Sounds bleakly interesting! Now, before closing our delightful chat, have you got any special questions you'd like to ask our readers?
Yes, I’d like to ask readers to say what one of their favourite TV or movie costume dramas was – and/or which book you would like to see filmed in the future? Do you have a favourite work you would love to see on the screen?
Thank you Judy! It's been very pleasant to talk to you and discover more about the talented lady behind those two beautiful blogs!
Now, dear readers, it's time for you to answer Judy's questions, add your e-mail address and , if you haven't done it yet, fly to her blogs! Good luck with the giveaway! Winner will be announced next Monday 31st May.