It is Advent and Christmas is fast approaching…far too fast probably for all the preparations to be completed on time. But I’m feeling a little frivolous and so, in this anniversary year for Sense and Sensibility, I thought you might like to have a little fun and enjoy listening and reading about the actors from Ang Lee and Emma Thompson’s film version of Sense and Sensibility from 1995 who have appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs. This version of Jane Austen’s novel, with all its faults, omissions but many bonuses, is my favourite adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
Desert Island Discs is a venerable radio programme, and was first broadcast in 1942. It has been running continually since then. For those of you unfamiliar with it, tt has a simple premise: imagine you are marooned on a desert island. You are allowed eight records, or recordings to accompany you. The Bible ( or your religious book of choice) and the Complete Works of Shakespeare are waiting for you too. You can choose to take another book and a luxury, which ought to have no practical use. The choices and the explanations for them are usually quite fascinating and illuminating.
Last week the Castaway was Robert Hardy- for the second time. Robert Hardy played a fabulous, lively Sir John Middleton in the 1995 film.
You can listen to Robert Hardy’s second tranche of choices here and read about his old choices, from 1978, here. Amongst other interesting snippets, it was fascinating to hear about his choice of subject to read at Oxford University. Originally wanting to read History he was persuaded to read English instead, on the basis that his tutors would be C. S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien. Wise choice.
I thought you might like to hear ( or read, if the programme is rather old) other programmes with a Sense and Sensibility connection, as many members of the cast of that adaptation have, at different times, appeared on the programme …so here is the episode for Dame Harriet Walter, which can be listened to again.
Dame Harriet Walter was a most avaricious and compelling Fanny Dashwood in the 1995 production, possibly the best and most malevolent but funny Fanny Dashwood I’ve ever seen.
Go here to listen to Emma Thompson’s programme. Emma Thompson not only starred as Elinor Dashwood but also wrote the screenplay of the film, for which she won as Oscar. Gemma Jones’ programme can be read about here. She was a rather wonderful Mrs Dashwood, with charm and a resemblance to Marianne in her manner.
Hugh Laurie, who portrayed a much more sympathetic Mr Palmer than is detailed in the text, in my view, gave his selection and choices for his desert island exile here.
Hugh Grant’s choices can be accessed here: he was of course a rather impossibly handsome Edward Ferrars in the film.
Imelda Stuanton’s programme can be listened to here : she was a really wonderfully irritating and brainless Charlotte Palmer in the film.
The archive for the programme is fascinating and a great prevarication tool. You never know whose choices are lurking there awaiting discovery. For example, here is the link to Colin Firth’s choices ,which can also be downloaded as a podcast to keep. You are most welcome ;)