The man who thought Henry Tilney’s dialogue, as written by Jane Austen, would “confuse” viewers accuses the BBC of dumbing down television.
That’s not to say we don’t agree with him. We’re just enjoying the Austenian irony of it all.
Writing in today’s Radio Times, Davies said that the appointment of Ben Stephenson, the BBC’s newly appointed head of drama commissioning, had coincided with “an element of slate-wiping and territory-marking” that had led to the corporation “putting the stress on the 20th century”.
He said: “The BBC has to justify its licence fee and the cultural value of transmitting the classics is one of the things that makes the BBC unique… I think, in terms of doing the classics, their position is somewhere near what ITV’s was ten years ago. Which is, ‘Yes, we’ll do them, but only if they’re big, popular warhorses.’ So it’s going downmarket, I guess.”
Unfortunately this new direction is putting a crimp in Mr. Davies’ style.
Davies said that an adaptation he was working on for the BBC of Anthony Trollope’s The Pallisers had been axed in favour of Winifred Holtby’s 20th-century novel, South Riding, and that the corporation had also pulled the plug on a version of Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son.
He said that modern novels were not meaty enough to merit serialising, adding: “I’d love to adapt more contemporary novels. But there isn’t really enough story and character to make a really satisfying serial, so they tend to be single dramas.”
Thanks to Alert Janeites Sandra (who was also amused) and Lisa for the link.