Monday, 24 September 2012
Oh Mr Darcy, take me to Downton
I love a good period drama.
And I'm not talking about me turning all Joan Crawford when it's that time of the month.
The glamour, the love stories, the treachery.
But Pride and Prejudice aside, Downton Abbey is heads and bonnets above them all.
I'm hooked to this lavish production - tighter than Lady Edith's corset.
She walks in beauty like the night
Downton is exquisite and sumptuous.
Stunning locations, breathtaking scenery and dialogue to die for, my dear.
This attention to detail makes for an opulent, sensory treat.
Plus, have you seen the chandeliers?
Bejewelled gowns, hats, gloves, bow ties, morning coats.
Such elegance and finery has not been seen since the House of Idiot.
Sorry Catherine Cookson, but your flat capped world is far too grim.
I've not been this excited since I perved at Gary Lineker's bronzed thighs in tight white shorts during his visit to Rackhams circa 1986.
Escape to the country
Escapsim and fantasy, as I am transported by carriage to a romantic era when everything was genteel and polite.
Dresses were big and men were gallant.
Even the hovels look nice through rose coloured monocles.
As a teenager I was captivated by A Room with A View, where posh types holidayed in the likes of Florence.
Hadn't they heard of Rhyl?
Forster's sophistication could not be found in Downtown Birmingham, where the only view was of the Pallasades Shopping Centre.
I drag Mr N round a stately home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
He refuses to ponce about in an emerald green, velvet tunic, while I take a turn around the courtyard with my parasol.
The New Romantics
Declarations of love. Sonnets. Dangerous liaisons. Bodice ripping excitement.
More smouldering than a sixth former's GHDs.
It's a long journey, but when our couples finally get it on, you know it won't end in divorce, a division of CDs and a confrontation on Jeremy Kyle three years later.
Mary and Matthew. Elizabeth and Darcy. Jane and Rochester.
As a teenager, the nearest I got to being wooed was an awkward fumble outside Wimpy.
I'm too sexy for my shirt
Arrogant. Moralistic. Pompous and repressed. Masterful when necessary.
No, I'm not talking about a GP's receptionist, but the leading men in our tales.
Who can forget the iconic image of Darcy emerging from the lake in his sodden blouson?
For a while I would interview potential suitors by asking if they owned a big girl's blouse.
I was single for a while.
Then there are the diamonds in the rough. Coarse, rugged and firm.
Richard Armitage in North & South. My ultimate mantasy.
Plus Michael Fassbender's Rochester. Swoon!
So please, Downton, can you introduce a few dashing heroes now that Matthew is spoken for?
Maybe Hugh Jackman on horseback. In a frilly blouse.....
Austen girl powers
Our accomplished heroines are feisty, witty and measured.
Oh Jane Eyre and Queen Elizabeth Bennet, you are so sensible, with your smart wisdom.
But Lizzy, have you seen Colin Firth?
I admire them, but can't they just have a quick snog, lift a hemline and put on some Rimmel?
Lady Mary on the other hand is a true flapper. Silk and steel and cooler than a cucumber sandwich.
The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plane
These dramas are more English than Hinge and Bracket discussing the inclement weather over tea and macaroons in the Bath Assembly Rooms.
More plums than Gary Lineker's Persil white shorts.
Impeccable manners. Etiquette and class. Gentlemen tipping their hats and opening doors for ladies.
People took pride in their appearance.
These days the couture is strictly Juicy and uniforms bear the stars of Ronald McDonald.
I visit Poundland in search of a Pheasant pie and lace hankies (I make do with Fray Bentos and Kleenex) .
My husband lays his Burton anorak over a puddle outside. "I'm a Lady."
There 'aint nothing like a Dame
No period drama is worth its weight in smelling salts if it cannot boast an interfering matriarch with acidic one liners.
Judi Dench, Shirley McLaine and Maggie Smith, who plays the greatest bonnet bitch ever - Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.
Lady Violet: "I'm so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I'm with her I am reminded of the virtues of the English."
Matthew: "Isn't she American?"
The cook, the thief, the wife, the lover
Tragedy and comedy in equal measures. Executed to perfection by the eccentric cast of characters.
Bumbling clergymen, maiden aunts and simpering sisters.
The cads, the schemers, the harlots, the rebels, the Lady Macbeths.
Poor, jealous Edith on Lady Mary's marriage to Matthew: "Love and position in one house and package. Who could ask for more?"
Birth, marriage and death. This is epic.
The torture of the trenches, the pain of unrequited love and the poignant sorrow of loss.
One moment we are laughing and the next we are in tears.
Like this week's Downton. Following a truly hilarious sing song around the piano, Lady Violet finally silences her American counterpart by stating that her husband wasn't "taken." He died.
Are you being served?
We care about what happens downstairs, too.
There is never a dull moment in the servants' quarters, from illegitimate babies, homosexuality and dog napping.
I'm a little confused over the Bates poisoning saga.
But I do hope Anna gives him a son. If only to guffaw at the title: 'Master Bates'.
I'm still expecting Mrs Overall to creep in with a rattling tray.
"More tea, Vicar?"
He's a jolly good Fellowes
Thanks to the likes of the Brontes, Eyre, Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare for creating such magnificent and beautifully penned stories.
Not forgetting Merchant Ivory, Andrew Davies, Tom Stoppard and, of course, Julian Fellowes.
I forgive you for Titanic.
Mad wives, bigamists, murderers and ghosts ("Heathcliff, it's me, it's Cathy.").
There are more skeletons than Lady Mary's pre-marital chamber.
Who cares if it wasn't all camomile lawns and powder puffs?
The Olympic opening ceremony got away with it.
This best demonstrated in French and Saunders' parody, 'Uptown Downstairs Abbey':
And on that note, I bid you good day!