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October 2019



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life on mars

TV watch: Decline and Fall

After the first episode yesterday evening of the BBC’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall, I just couldn’t believe an hour had passed so quickly. Sixty minutes of sheer entertainment with outstanding performances, especially from Douglas Hodge as Grimes (seen above in the boater).

Is it like the book, though? Well, how could it be? Impossible to translate Waugh’s language to the screen. For instance, when the local Welsh band arrives to play at the school sports’ day, Fagan (David Suchet) says, ‘Who are these extraordinary people?’ and has them quickly hidden in a tent. Here is Waugh’s description of their arrival:
‘Ten men of revolting appearance were approaching from the drive. They were low of brow, crafty of eye and crooked of limb. They advanced huddled together with the loping tread of wolves, peering about them furtively as they came, as though in constant terror of ambush; they slavered at their mouths, which hung loosely over their receding chins, while each clutched under his ape-like arm a burden of curious and unaccountable shape. On seeing the Doctor they halted and hedged back, those behind squinting and mouthing over their companions’ shoulders.’

That passage either makes you shake with laughter or fills you with prim disapproval of its racism. The thing about the book is that it attacks just about everything and everybody (except poor, hapless Paul Pennyfeather) with comic savagery. Watch the film for fun but read the book for brilliant comic satire.


Thank you so much for posting - I would have missed this otherwise!
My pleasure. It's well worth catching!
I LOVED it. I like Jack Whitehall anyway and I think he is perfectly cast. Douglas Hodge is hilarious in his role :) I can't wait for next week's episode.
If you'll believe me, I had no idea who Jack Whitehall was!

I'm also looking forward to the next episode. Strange scheduling, don't you think?
Jack is a very successful stand up comic and unusually for a comic he's a 'posh boy', public school educated. I love his self effacing style :)

The scheduling is strange. There's usually nothing worth watching on a Friday night. Line of Duty has been promoted to the popular Sunday night slot from BBC2.
For some reason I can't explain I am allergic to Jack Whitehall, that's why I let this pass me by.
You missed a treat. As I said, I didn't even know who Jack Whitehall was! I'm not as impressed by his performance as other people seem to be.