Emma Review: Costume Drama/Love Karma

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

tv-stars-3EMMA: Sunday 4th October, BBC1, 9pm Alert Me

Despite her writing talents, Jane Austen was a rather poor self-publicist, and when she described her most complex heroine as a character that “no-one but myself will like very much,? her agent must have been tearing his hair out.

It turns out that quite a few people did take a shine to Emma in the end, and nearly two centuries after her creation, she’s getting a new airing from the BBC.

The days are getting shorter, the shops are starting to flog Christmas tat, and Sunday nights will soon be packed solid with bonnet-wearing women and men in riding boots.

With only four parts, Emma will not be a series to compare to the epic, Lark Rise to Candleford, a period drama which laid siege to television sets around the nation for months on end last winter. But it should provide a nice warm-up for all the Victorian-costume lovers out there.

The matchmaking exploits of Emma Woodhouse have been adapted for the screen by Sandy Welch, the award-winning writer who brought us Jane Eyre and Our Mutual Friend, and this piece is equally well written.

For viewers who are unfamiliar with the tale, this first episode should be enough to explain what Austen meant when she slagged-off her creation all those years ago.

Despite her wit and good-looks, Emma is a bit of an annoyance to those around her and spends most of her time manipulating her friends into getting it on or not getting it on with each other, apparently just for a laugh.

Many of her mates seem to be quite oblivious to her misguided machinations, none more so than her hypochondriac father, played by Michael Gambon, who revels in some fusty garb once more.

If Dumbledore fails to see his daughters immaturity, then Jonny Lee Miller – who plays Mr Knightley – certainly does and he takes the opportunity to tell her as much.

Will he bring the scheming strumpet down to earth or will they shack up on his estate? Hmmm…

Sean Marland