BBC’s Pride & Prejudice – 20 years!

I was celebrating Colin Firth’s birthday here two weeks ago and now it’s time to celebrate the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice!

20 years ago today, on September 24th 1995, I eagerly tuned in to BBC One to see what they had made of the latest adaptation of one of my favourite novels: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I had at that time only ever seen one screen adaptation of the novel, the Laurence Olivier one, and I didn’t much care for it. So, I sat down to watch on that Sunday evening and the first episode opened with Lizzie Bennet walking outside and watching two horsemen ride in the distance: Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy…

I immediately took to Lizzie and her sisters, Mrs. Bennet was a hoot and Mr. Bennet was her tormentor, oh what a joy to watch!

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And  then… Mr. Darcy appeared in all his brooding glory!

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Lizzie took an instant dislike to him and I was sold. We saw the introduction of Mr. Bingley…

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…and his acerbic sister Caroline who forever was seeking the attention of Mr. Darcy (like here when he is admiring Lizzie Bennet’s ‘fine eyes’ from afar)…

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And the episode ended with Lizzie staying over at Netherfield and her head-on verbal collision with Mr. Darcy. Better than any action movie out there! That first hour was over all too soon! I fevered towards the next episode, counting the days, hours and minutes.

The second episode brought the ridiculous Mr. Collins…

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… the charming but not so nice Mr. Wicked… er… Wickham…

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… and the ball at Netherfield where Lizzie was obliged to dance with Mr. Darcy despite having vowed never to do so! That dance scene…. ah!

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This scene is a word-duel between Lizzie and Darcy with advances and parries and jabs, all wrapped nicely into a dance. The timing is so perfect, the tension building higher and higher between them… I was breathless and in awe (still am to this day) of how good this is!

The third episode ended with Darcy proposing to Lizzie. “In vain I have struggled,” he said, “it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you!”…

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And the episode ended with her refusal to marry him. Understandably so, but heartbreaking nonethess…

And then something awful happened: I had to travel to Germany for two weeks! I had a temp job working in the library of the international organization my dad was the general secretary of and I had work to do there! I needed the money and it paid well, which was nice, but there was a huge downside: there was no BBC in Germany! I programmed the VCR at home (these were the times before DVD, let alone recordable DVD…) and kept my fingers crossed that it would tape properly (I had had mishaps before). The two weeks were loooong, I was so desperate to see what happened next. It was just awful to be left with a refused-proposal-cliffhanger! Finally, after two weeks, I came home again and I immediately binge-watched episodes four and five.

Episode four had Darcy explaining himself in a letter to Lizzie and yes, it also had that wet shirt scene with the nipples!

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At the end of this episode, Lizzie and Darcy were finally starting to find to each other…

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Then came episode five, with the beautiful long looks of love exchanged by Darcy and Lizzie as Georgiana Darcy played the piano…. sigh…

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But evil Mr Wickham just had to spoil it all…

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“I’m afraid you’ve long been desiring my absence,” Mr Darcy said as he took his leave from Lizzie, and my heart broke…

The last (sixth) episode I was again able to watch “live” and because I had binge watched episodes four and five only a day before; the wait for the last episode hadn’t been long… I was on tenterhooks and even though I know how the story ends, I still wondered, ‘how will this end?’

After all the trouble with Wickham and Lydia was solved and after Lizzie found out that Mr. Darcy was the rescuer, he and Bingley came to the visit the Bennets again…

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And Lizzie and Darcy couldn’t help themselves, they had to sneak looks at each other…

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But before the happy end could happen, first Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine DeBourgh came for a visit. Lady Catherine demanded from Lizzie a promise that she would never marry Darcy. Lizzie, however, refused to make such a promise…

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“Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” Lady Catherine asked in desperation. Classic! And well, yes they are! Lizzie’s refusal to promise anything finally gave Darcy the courage to propose to her again…

“You are too generous to trifle with me,” he said, “If your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged… but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”

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“My feelings are so different,” she replied, “in fact, they are quite the opposite!”

And, to boot, after a heart to heart talk, he called her his “Dearest. loveliest Elizabeth…” with such a look of love that I melted… vlcsnap-2015-09-23-23h25m02s624

So, in the end, Jane and Lizzie married the men of their dreams…

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And after the wedding there was finally a Darcy and Lizzie kiss…

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Ahhh…. Ok, admittedly, that kiss lacked the passion this one had (9 years later)…

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… but I think nothing can beat the North & South kiss of Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe! In my humble opinion it’s the best on screen kiss ever. But I digress… Lizzie and Darcy kissed! And that is more than they ever did in the book.

I already loved the book but after seeing the adaptation I became obsessed with it and with the BBC series, and yes, like so very many women who had seen this, I fell head over heels in love with Colin Firth! He and Jennifer Ehle had perfectly portrayed Darcy and Lizzie (Jennifer Ehle won a BAFTA for it and I still haven’t forgiven BAFTA for not giving Colin Firth one for this role…)

Today, 20 years on, Colin Firth is still a great favorite of mine and I still adore this version of Pride & Prejudice; for me it remains the best version ever. The 2005 Pride & Prejudice fiilm with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen was alright but for me McFadyen could not hold a candle to Colin Firth’s Darcy. And the rest of the characters were fine but just not as good…

If you love Pride & Prejudice as well, you may enjoy a YouTube webseries called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” which places the story of Pride & Prejudice in this century, this decade even! Lizzie Bennet is a grad student and one day meets a Mr. Bing Lee and a Mr. William Darcy at a friend’s wedding…It’s 100 hundred episodes that average about 3 to 4 minutes each. For me, the second best Pride & Prejudice adaptation out there…

Yes, I love Pride & Prejudice and the 1995 adaptation was key to it all… Thank you BBC and Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and everyone who was involved in making it!

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24 thoughts on “BBC’s Pride & Prejudice – 20 years!

  1. Ah, P&P… a great passion of mine. I read the book (many times) and have listened to several narrations as well, before I ever saw any adaptations, and absolutely love it. I’m just a sucker for P&P… I love both the adaptations you mentioned… each brings out parts of the book that the other passed over… but I agree, if I had to pick one or the other, it would have to be the 1995 version. Got hooked on Lizzie Bennet Diaries, too. That was right before I stumbled across N&S. And 100% agree, no kiss EVER has measured up to the N&S kiss for sheer sensuality onscreen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So, we share another passion! 🙂 Anything P&P related catches my attention instantly: adaptations, sequels, Bridget Jones, whatever.. Have you seen “Death at Pemberley”? I quite liked that too. I confess, however, that I haven’t tried P&P and Zombies yet…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I’ll ever try the zombies one! I’ve seen “Death Comes To Pemberly” with Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin- is that the one? Enjoyed it too! Bridget Jones I actually saw did see, when it was first released, and I remember liking it, but it was the one “adaptation” I’d seen before I’d read P&P and so I imagine all the P&P references went over my head! Funny you should mention it, because I keep meaning to rewatch it but haven’t done so. Now I know what to do the next time I get on a P&P kick. I was on a Jane Austen kick in general a couple months ago and listened to every one of her novels on audio back to back, except The Watsons/Sanditon. It made me sad to be down to the last one and know there were no more after that, so I will hold off. LOL

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle version is by far my favorite. I think it is to do with the good chemistry between those two. Jennifer Ehle managed to convey Lizzie’s wit and sparkle like no other actress (certainly not Keira Knightley). I always had the feeling that she was secretly laughing at Darcy and that was the one thing that completely disarmed him. I’m planning to watch “Death at Pemberley” –the book didn’t much hold my interest but I’m hopeful about the show.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Actually, I really liked Death at Pemberley! A lot of murder mystery drama and a strain on Lizzie and Darcy that I didn’t think I’d care for but I liked it! Never read the book, though, so I don’t know how that compares.
      Yes, Lizzie laughed at him and is the only one that really challenged him, also she had no pretense, which I think disarmed him as well. He had to do the chasing for once and it wasn’t easy… 🙂
      Yeah, Keira Knightley didn’t do it so much for me and Matthew McFadyen even less. I mean, I enjoy watching it, and there are some lovely moments there but there is nowhere near the spark the BBC version had.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. PS No zombies for me 🙂 I have to draw the line somewhere!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, I love P&P ❤ schade, dass man die Serie eigentlich nie? im Fernsehen sehen kann 😦 Colin Firth in Bestform ❤
    Kennst Du Lost in Austen? Das ist eine sehr lustige und moderne Umsetzung der Geschichte 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on richardtreehouse and commented:
    For Pride and Prejudice lovers, a very entertaining post!

    Like

  6. Congratulations on the anniversary 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. oh lovely, didn’t think it was 20, Gosh must be getting old! I got the DVD for my bday last year and totally chuffed about it! It is by far my favourite version of it and it was everything i imagined from the book 🙂 I was indifferent to the American version with Knightly, just didn’t reflect the atmosphere of the book for me. And no zombies for me either 😉
    I’m afraid i’m going to be a bad fan and be out with it and say that i think this is better than N&S for several reasons: the book and writing is so much better and the characters so much more vivid. I never managed to warm to Margaret and even less to Denby Ashe. While he was interesting and the character had depth, she just got on my nerves more and more. It may be also the reasons why i didn’t feel that kiss at the end was truly passionate. Sweet and loving yes, but i always felt what Lizzy and Darcy found was a true meeting of spirits and hearts. In fact that is a much more full on kiss, they both participate and give and receive. While Margaret just gets kissed being dazed, pretty much her state throughout this. But Austen’s characters while they make take some time to figure out what they really want they then go for it with determination, which i found in Thornton as well, which is why he appealed to me. I never felt she was able to match that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this analysis! Not quite how I viewed Margaret (I do think she takes action when she needs to and to me she is not quite as dazed as you view her) but her ever-righteous attitude sometimes annoyed me as well. And I also have to agree that Lizzie and Darcy go through bigger changes and character development, with at the end the meeting of hearts and minds. What I also love love love about P&P is the abundance of excellent secondary characters. N&S has some (I really like Mrs. Thornton and Fanny is truly silly) but P&P has so many more classic ones! Almost every secondary character (I won’t even begin to list them all!) is a memorable one,which I think is an exceptional thing to be able to write. Jane Austen was masterful like no other in this respect and this P&P production showcased those characters in all their glory, which I loved.
      So, if I really really really really really had to choose between the two, I think I would choose P&P over N&S as well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • And that it is 20 years old and I was grown up when I first saw it, makes me feel old too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] things Austen and all things Pride & Prejudice. My fave P&P adaptation is, of course, the 1995 BBC one with Colin Firth. So combine one of my favourite things with the (for me) worst movie genre and […]

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  9. […] Colin Firth is 56 today! Yesterday he was in Madrid promoting Bridget Jones. The man still looks so sharp! At least as handome as when I first fell in love with him 21 years ago while watching Pride and Prejudice. […]

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  10. […] and Prejudice; I first read it in my late teens / early twenties. When I was 25 I got hooked on the brilliant BBC adaptation that came out that year, I couldn’t wait for Sunday evening to come around and for each new episode to air. I fell […]

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  11. […] anything and everything about Colin Firth (he had just come to fame less than a year before, with Pride and Prejudice) I frequented a website called “Friends of Firth”. The website is long gone (I […]

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