Friday, 19 November 2010

Dorothy L Sayers and the BBC

Over the last two days, I have been renewing my acquaintance with the BBC serializations, in the 1970s, of a couple of the television adaptations of the Lord Peter Wimsey stories: yesterday it was Five Red Herrings and, today, it has been Clouds of Witness. I am sure that there is a boxed set of the whole lot, produced by the BBC, available from the BBC shop and on-line, from the usual suspects. I hope so. For: casting (importantly the casting of Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter and Gyn Houston as Bunter); acting; wardrobe; direction; atmosphere; props; manners; suspense; drama; romance and pace: moreover, because it was all, probably, achieved on a shoestring budget, they are brilliant entertainment. I doubt whether the BBC has produced anything better recently and it brings to mind the terrible shame that the earlier Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price televison versions of The World of Wooster seem to have been lost to the world by virtue of re-use of the recording tapes. It also brought to mind a charming BBC radio series that Ian Carmichael made of the life of Jack Buchanan, in which he recounted Jack Buchanan (a stage hero of his), walking into his dressing room after one of Carmichael's own early stage successes and introducing himself with the line: "Hello, old boy, I'm Jack Buchanan" and then congratulating him on his show; an act of gratuitous encouragement to a young beginner, who went on to achieve his own place in the very heart of the nation.

Ian Carmichael, star of stage and screen 1920-2010, pictured above, in a still from the Wimsey series, with Glyn Houston as Bunter.

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