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gertrude

April 2018

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gertrude

Perennial William and Toast



The latest Just William TV adaptation is set in 1953 and some people don’t like it because they think of William as a 1930s figure. Since the last William book was published in 1974, it seems perfectly reasonable to me; plus, it gives the set and costume designers a chance to show what they can do. This series is a must-watch for all those lovers of vintage out there, who can feast their eyes on carefully chosen fabrics, crockery, clocks and biscuit tins just like nobody actually had in their 1950s home because they were still getting by with pre-war stuff. There’s even bunting, without which it seems no home is complete. The boys wear pretty nifty knits, too.

So does it work? I was worried by the casting of Daniel Roche, fearing that he’d just be Ben from Outnumbered with a short haircut but thankfully that hasn’t happened. If anything this William, however surly and hard done by, gets on better with his parents than Ben does. That’s the big change from the books; the parents have been given lines and lives. In the stories, Mr and Mrs Brown are flat characters; Mr Brown at work or behind a newspaper, Mrs Brown forever darning socks. Here, they actually talk to William and Mrs Brown (the excellent Rebecca Front) has a rebellious streak! William’s motor-mouth grumbling is spot on, the music is perfect, Martin Jarvis narrates and as long as four boys are stalking in the woods with a dog, everything is just right. I don’t believe that the Brown family would eat in the kitchen and I can’t help regretting Bonnie Langford and Diana Dors. It was full of stars playing small parts and nice to see Denis Lawson as the headmaster.




More retro sets and knitted jumpers in Toast, adapted from Nigel Slater’s touching memoir. This time it’s the 1960s but the detail is all there; if you can see it for tears, that is. The use of Dusty Springfield songs for the soundtrack was inspired and when she sang her version of Ne Me Quitte Pas (which, may I point out, is about a million times better than Barbra Streisand’s) while young Nigel looked at his mother’s photograph, well, it was almost too much. Ken Stott was absolutely brilliant as the father. I’ve always thought him a good actor but never seen him give such a moving performance as here. Unmissable. Now I’m having to read the book again.

Comments

I really enjoyed the book of Toast but worried that I would find it just too sad on the screen. I will watch, now!

We are just watching Outnumbered for the first time. I am sure that Karen was based on Florence (and Ben on The Boss' son, George). Florence has been known to ask if she can keep nits for pets.
I have to admit that I've been worried that I would find it too sad to read, as well, and so have kept away!
It is almost too sad to read, but there is just enough humour and happiness in there, I think ...
The TV version is sadder than the book, I think, because it misses out the happy parts.
When did the "breakfast room" arrive? I remember, in about 1956, a family that put up a partition in their huge kitchen, and called one side of it "the breakfast room", enabling (said the father) toast to be served hot and crisp instead of cool and rubbery in the dining room, and homework to be done apart from the sitting room - but I've no idea where they got the idea from. In practice, by about 1958, they ate all family meals there, and the dining room was reserved for visitors, whether for meals or other. I don't remember any other family doing this - and I think that the "breakfast bar" (counter and stools) came in much later
Gotta be true if you think so. Her stocking tops were quite something.

Thank you, same to you!

Edited at 2011-01-01 02:13 pm (UTC)
I avoided William as I was worried it would be rubbish. I'll have to check it on iPlayer.
Much better than I feared.
As one or two others did, I avoided both these adaptations for fear that they would have been mistranslated horribly to television as so many favourite books of mine have recently. However, Rebecca Front, Helena BC in stockings, minute attention to detail AND most importantly Martin Jarvis narrating the William stories as he does on Radio 4? You've sold me on them.

Happy New Year to you, I love reading your posts. Roll on tomorrow and Sydney!

There's not enough Martin Jarvis for my taste but that familiar voice adds authenticity to the production.

Thanks for the compliment and Happy New Year to you, too.
Can't wait. I feel we need to whack 'em, and whack 'em, and whack 'em! Then they'll believe it really happened.

(Anonymous)

I'm hopeful these will show up over here. Have you ever seen the you tube of Jacques Brel doing the song? There are a few versions, but his is so full of heart and pain. Really amazing.
We are just watching a rerun of Framed. Did you see it? Paintings stored in old mine in Wales.
Yes, I know the original Jacques Brel performance. Others swear by Scott Walker but it's Dusty for me.

Can't think how I've missed Framed but I've never seen it.

Don't worry about comments not showing up at first; it's because you write anonymously, nothing sinister.

Edited at 2011-01-02 09:05 am (UTC)

(Anonymous)

I knew that. :<) More on Framed here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/framed/boyce.html

and

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/framed/index.html

I hadn't known there was a book.
Thanks for the info.