This week the BBC has been repeating the 2002 documentary, The Real Jane Austen on BBC4, presumably as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of both the Regency and the publication of Sense and Sensibility.
This is a very engaging programme, an hour long, presented by the actress, Anna Chancellor. Ms. Chancellor is not only famed for her wonderfully catty performance as Miss Bingley in the BBCs 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, but also for the fact that Jane Austen was her eight times great-aunt.
It was also filmed at The Rectory at Teigh, which was used as the location for Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.
The Rectory, which I have visited and written about here and here, was used as the location for the Steventon Rectory, where Jane Austen was born and grew up. The original building has long since been demolished, and I think, if you consider the original, shown below, that the rectory at Teigh is a fair replacement.
The hall at Teigh, shown below with its beautiful plasterwork, was also used as the drawing-room at Manydown, the scene of Jane Austen’s engagement and swift dis-enagagment to Harris Bigg Wither.
It uses an interesting device: all the main character are portrayed by actors,and not only do they re-enact various scenes from Jane’s life but give face to face interviews to the camera. The cast is very well chosen: John Standing is a sympathetic and kind Reverend Austen. Phyllis Logan, a sensible and straightforward Mrs Austen. My favourite was Jack Davenport as the ever so slightly arrogant Henry Austen, so sure his mother and sisters needed very little financial support upon which to live after the death of Mr Austen. Yes, well…
I do wish this were available to buy on DVD: it would make perfect viewing for GCSE students wanting a short, snappy but accurate overview of Jane Austen’s life and times.
I remember viewing it in 2002 and liking it: my opinion has not changed after seeing it again on Tuesday evening. It is not available to view on the BBC iPlayer, but it will be broadcast again on Sunday 11th September at 7.10p.m. and very early on Monday morning, the 12th September, at 1.50a.m. Go here for all the details.