Too busy to post with school Christmas concerts to attend, a house to de-fluff before guests descend and, well, just the two presents to wrap this year. But they will look nice in their brown paper and string.
Just enough time to observe that ITV did a fine job with its repeat of Charles Dickens’ Old Curiousity Shop on Sunday, despite the adaptation coming hot on the heels of BBC 1’s disappointing Little Dorrit. Why are broadcasters so deeply conservative? Christmas = costume drama = Dickens on TV. “The other side is doing something so we’d better do it too.” I could have done with a more contemporary drama that wasn’t Kenneth Branagh’s no-lips Wallander, but at least Dickens was in his place at 9pm last night. Viewers didn’t agree, with twice as many watching Wallander as the Curiosity Shop.
My partner in life and crime actually watched this with me, which is unusual, especially in our house. He observed, and I reckon he’s got a point, that 1840s London is about the only setting where modern broadcasters can get away with casting such satisfying pantomime villains, complete with squints and spittle. (Apart, perhaps, from Nationwide ads.) Toby Jones as Quilp didn’t disappoint.
I watched the whole thing wondering what, if anything, is the difference between a BBC and an ITV costume drama. And I’ve got the answer. It’s the hair. Derek Jacoby as the inveterate gambler Trent still managed a feathered crop. Little Nell was positively bouffant. So different from Amy Dorrit’s bangs greased to her head over on BBC 1 these last few weeks. Trust commercial TV to make even Victorian poverty play well on the screen.