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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > British Telefilm > Nancherrow

Nancherrow (Mini-Series)

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: C†††† Episodes: B

 

 

Even though it looks like it is strictly designed to appeal to a female audience, this 1999 TV adaptation of Rosamunde Pilcherís Nancherrow is much better than expected.It is not a formula piece, though the obsession with the title location, a coveted family home, sounds like something we have heard before.Add the scarcity of food and it sounds like it could be a British Gone with the Wind, but the year is 1947 and World War II is over.

 

The house in question belongs to the Carey-Lewis family, and when the patriarch passes on, young Loveday (Katie Ryder Richardson) wants to immediately move in.There are many obstacles in her way, including slow-moving paperwork, an unhappy marriage, the expense of keeping the place, and the condition of the building itself.What would seem predictable and obvious surprisingly does not run that way.Thank teleplay writer John Goldsmith for not sticking to formula, or watering down what was obviously a good book.

 

Another sign this would be good is Joanna Lumley.The former Purdey on The New Avengers, Peter Bogdanovichís The Catís Meow (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), Sapphire & Steel, John Schlesingerís Cold Comfort Farm, and recent hit Absolutely Fabulous tends to be exceptionally good at picking the material she does.This gave me a new respect for her judgment.Avengers patriarch Patrick Macnee (as Lord Awliscombe) also makes a very welcome appearance among an exceptionally cast program.

 

The only thing that generally does not work is the newsreel parts with voiceover that does not sound sonically or verbally.Otherwise, this is the kind of top-rate quality TV that also does not bore its audience to death.You land up caring for the characters and what happens to them.Then, when Lumley and Macnee are together for the first time in twenty years since The New Avengers, you can see the chemistry has not dulled one bit.When Macnee talks about how the world has changed since the end of the war, the character refers to WWII, but it holds all to true for when John Steed and Purdey were fighting The Cold War on their former show.9/11 has made the statement even truer.

 

The full frame image mixes monochrome newsreel footage as markers in between the new full color footage shot so nicely by Simon Kossoff, A.S.C., that it even looks good in the slightly hazy transfer.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has nice Pro Logic surrounds that increase the impact of the presentation overall.The text-only extras include nice interview segments with various cast members, cast/crew bio/filmographies, and the Carey-Lewis family tree, all of which enhance the program.

 

Outside of that great intertextual moment, the two-part show holds up on its own very well.Director Simon Langton deserves kudos for making this work so well and pulling everything together.Nancherrow is a winner.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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