Telly for Anglophiles | Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a six-episode 1995 British television drama, adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth starred as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Produced by Sue Birtwistle and directed by Simon Langton, the serial was a BBC production with additional funding from the American A&E Network. BBC One originally broadcast the 55-minute episodes from 24 September to 29 October in 1995. The A&E Network aired the serial in double episodes on three consecutive nights beginning 14 January 1996.
Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s (Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman) five unmarried daughters (Susannah Harker, Jennifer Ehle, Lucy Briers, Polly Maberly, Julia Sawalha) after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley (Crispin Bonham-Carter) and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth. The New York Times called the adaptation “a witty mix of love stories and social conniving, cleverly wrapped in the ambitions and illusions of a provincial gentry”.
Critically acclaimed and a popular success, Pride and Prejudice was honoured with several awards, including a BAFTA Television Award for Jennifer Ehle for “Best Actress” and an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special”. The role of Mr. Darcy elevated Colin Firth to stardom. A scene showing Firth in a wet shirt was recognised as “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history”. The serial inspired author Helen Fielding to write the popular Bridget Jones novels; the screen adaptations featured Firth as Bridget’s love interest Mark Darcy.