Judy is English and writes about her fondness of old movies at MOVIE CLASSICS and about her love for period drama at COSTUME DRAMA REVIEWS

She always writes detailed, well-informed, thoroughful reviews which I like reading very much. She has kindly accepted to answer my questions and I'm glad to introduce her to all of you and to discover more about her.

Judy is generously giving  away one of the latest   Robin Hood Audiobooks, THE WITCHFINDERS read by Richard Armitage. To win it you simply have to comment and answer Judy's final question/s.  Don't forget to add your e-mail address in case we'll have to get in touch with  you as the lucky winner! 

First of all Judy, introduce yourself to our readers saying as much as you would like to or whatever comes to your mind.
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?

I’ve always been a keen reader and especially love many 19th-century authors, Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, Austen, Gaskell, Thackeray, plus poets like Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tennyson... and many more! I also like collecting 19th-century illustrations (see one from Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters below and read my latest review about 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?

I loved watching the Sandy Welch adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and reviewed each episode. Mad Men is my favourite at the moment - and I suppose, being set in the 1960s, it just about qualifies as a costume drama. I also enjoyed Robin Hood though it took me a while to get into it, and I have been watching Doctor Who with my teenage son, although I’m a bit sad that David Tennant isn’t in it any more, as he is such a good actor. I do wish there was more interesting drama being made in general, instead of so much reality TV! As regards my favourite movies from the past, there are loads – I’m especially keen on the 1930s and tend to watch a lot of Warner Brother movies, with Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart being some of my favourite stars.

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.


Katherine said...

Great to meet you Judy! I've stopped by at your blog a few times before. As Maria Grazia said you write great informative reviews.

A Lucy Snowe for Villette? I always thought Anna Maxwell Martin would be perfect, she looks the part as Esther Summerson in Bleak House. I would also love to see an adaptation of Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey.

I love Wives and Daughters, Middlemarch, and Persuasion 1995 and... well, I could go on and on.

Thanks for the great interview Maria and Judy!

BurtonReview said...

Another Fabulous interview! Please enter me for this one also. I will have to check out Judy's blogs, not sure if I've been there before or not. Ialso like to write longer reviews and know that I should tone it down but then I feel I am not doing it justice.
marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

Judy said...

Thanks Katherine and Marie - I hadn't thought of Anna Maxwell Martin for Lucy Snowe, but agree she would be great. I'd also like to see Agnes Grey adapted too - the adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall with Tara Fitzgerald and Toby Stephens was great. Also thanks again to Maria Grazia for inviting me to take part, and presenting the interview so beautifully:)

Stiletto Storytime said...

Wonderful interview...I agree with so many of your favorites...My favorite Jane Eyre adaptation would be the one with Ciaran Hinds as Rochester. However honestly I am a huge Richard Armitage fan and would love to see him play Rochester...or just listen to him read to me. =) Enter me please!


Krist said...

I have only recently watched N&S and it has captiveted me, though I like almost every period drama I've ever seen. I'm a bit sad that the book is not translated to my language and not in any library, so I'll just have to find an english version on the internet


Judy said...

Now that's a thought, Courtney - I would love to see Richard Armitage do another costume drama role and I can imagine him making a great Rochester, though I'd really rather see another work adapted rather than Jane Eyre again!

Krist, sorry to hear that N&S isn't available in your language - that's a shame, but hope you do get hold of it in English.

Traxy said...

Oh, I want to enter the draw for the giveaway too! :)

Hi Judy! Nice to meet you! :) Will have to have a wonder over to your blogs and have a look, they sound interesting.

I too would love to see Richard Armitage as Rochester, although I'm not sure I could take it. It would be too perfect and I would probably snap from the sheer joy of watching him merge with that character. My favourite costume dramas have to be Jane Eyre '06, Pride and Prejudice '95 (least said about '05 the better!), and North & South '04. P&P is a wonderful adaptation that feels very true to the book, and they've taken their time with it, it doesn't feel rushed, and the characters are spot-on. N&S is similar to P&P, but a bit more gritty and not as posh. Can't see a box of Thornton's in the shops without sighing happily! JE'06 is one of the best allround JE versions. While not perfect, the characters have been captured in a fantastic way. Toby Stephens doesn't just play Rochester, he IS him. Superb acting! (I could go on and on, and I often do, so I'll try and stop now.)

Which book I'd like to see adapted... Well, there haven't been a lot of "Villette", "Shirley", "The Professor" (understandably, to be fair) or "Agnes Grey" so any of them would be fab. If we can go outside the real-life period drama, something I would LOVE to see is a properly filmed version of Robert Jordan's the Wheel of Time books. Preferably as a big-budget TV-series where they could take their time with the story. That would be a dream come true. I love those books and the richness of detail of the world makes it feel like it's real, like it could actually exist, and to see it on screen... well, wow. It would be amazing! Can't wait to the summer holidays so I can finally have the time to immerse myself in the latest installment!

tyme_4_t said...

Fantastic interview and I will be checking out Judy's blogs!

A wonderful book I've recently read is "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer - it is written as a series of letters and I think it would be a great movie/tv series. I hope you get a chance to read it.

My email address is tyme_4_t@hotmail.com

Charleybrown said...

Thanks Maria for chatting with Judy so we get to know more about her! It feels like I can sit down with a cup of tea and join in your conversation :) I've been a fan of Judy's for a while and look forward to reading her commentaries of the dramas I love as well! I do appreciate the time and effort that both of you put into writing reviews of books and films (a task I like to avoid!) I'd rather link back to reviews like yours and call it a day! (good solution I think!)
Can we make it unanimous that we'd like to see Vilette? I have to admit that I've never read it but I've heard plenty of others who rave about it so I'd like to read it when I get the chance!

To answer your question, I guess I'd love to see an adaptation of a Georgette Heyer novel (or a Bronte book that hasn't been done) and have it include a suitable role for a certain Mister Armitage! The BBC would have a willing audience I would think!!

Thanks Maria and Judy :)

Maria Grazia said...

@Katherine, Traxy & Charleybrown
Hi! I know I'll sound a perfect bothering bore but... first of all thanks for your interesting comments, only that...if you do not add your e-mail addresses , as it is one of the rules for this giveaway - though I happen to know them - I can't add your names to the list of those to pick up among the winner from. And I 'll be terribly sorry 'cause you are very special blogger buddies to me! Could you please just leave them in another comment if you want to enter this giveaway?
I'm terribly sorry. MG.

Judy said...

Tyme 4 T, I've read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie and enjoyed it - according to the imdb a movie is "in production" for release in 2011, but they don't list any details about it, so I don't know how far things have advanced.

Charley and Traxy, glad to hear you both agree on 'Villette' - maybe some day a TV company will actually make it instead of yet another 'Jane Eyre'. Here's hoping.:) The other ideas sound great too.

CaRiiToO said...

Lovely interview!
Here are my answers:
I loved the costumes of Pride & Prejudice (both, 1995 & 2005).
I'd love to see a movie of The 13th Tale by Diane Setterfield and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Judy said...

Thanks, Cariitoo! The imdb says a film is being made of The Book Thief, but unfortunately there are no details given.

Traxy said...

@MG: Not a problem. I was thinking "she knows my email addy already", so that's why I didn't add it. Sorry! Here's one: thesqueee(at)traxy.net :)

Unknown said...

Wonderful interview! I would love to enter this drawing as I've longed to hear the Robin Hood audiobooks! :) I have a couple of favorite costume dramas...the one & only North & South, which started my Richard Armitage obsession. Too many to have a #1 fav, really.

I would love to see Georgette Heyer's Regencies made into films - particularly Sylvester. I loved the book, and then when Richard Armitage READ it...oh goodness I would love to see him in a film adaptation of that story!

ruthellenanderson (at) gmail (dot) com

Anda Alexandra said...

Hi Judy :) I think that would be The Ladybird / D. H. Lawrence - beautiful story :)


Anonymous said...

Nice interview, I enjoyed it a lot.

Umm, I liked the costumes in Wives and Daughters or more accurately I liked the distinction between Cinthya's dresses and Molly's, I don't usually catch those difference so I was surprised to actually appreciate it in this. (Will read Judy's review on the adaptation's costumes).

I haven't read dramas that had not been adapted yet, so can't answer that question.

My email: carolyn_0086(at)yahoo(dot)it -Thanks!

Judy said...

Ruth, I haven't read any Georgette Heyers as yet but have heard several people say they would make great TV adaptations - she is someone I keep meaning to read, though I'm not sure which of her novels would be the best one to try.
Anda, I've read 'the Ladybird' years ago but must admit I don't remember anything about it - thanks for the suggestion.

Carolyn, afraid I don't know much about costumes but I'm interested to hear you point out the distinction between Cynthia's and Molly's - I'm sure Cynthia's are more sophisticated and Molly's simpler, in line with their characters and values. Thanks to all of you for commenting.:)

Anonymous said...

My favourite historical/costume drama on television? So many. The Academy best is undoubtedly BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Most wonderfully heartwarming adaptation would have to be the first and second Anne of Green Gables. And for slightly more contemporary costume drama, all of the Hercule Poirot series from the iconic Agatha Christie and portrayed by David Suchet.

Which novel would I like to see dramatised? The series of the House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett with Richard Armitage playing the fifteenth century prodigy, merchantman and banker.


Judy said...

Thanks very much for your comments and suggestions, Prue - I haven't read any Dorothy Dunnett but it sounds like an interesting period for a drama. I also still need to see 'Anne of Green Gables'!

MarionG said...

Historical novels/or books I find particularly appealing. I just can't seem to get enough of them.
My favorite TV series which is historical is The Tudors, which is based on King Henry VIII of England.
I'd love to see Diana Gabaldon Outlander series put to TV series or to a movie. I love her characters.

Judy said...

Hi Marion, must admit I gave up on The Tudors after a bit but maybe should give it another try, as I am interested in that period. Diana Gabaldon is yet another one I haven't read, though I've heard good things about her. Thanks for commenting.:)