The Eyre Affair

Jane Eyre b

It’s Not Bleak House

Last Sunday the BBC debuted its newest period drama, Jane Eyre, starring newcomer Ruth Wilson as the eponymous heroine and Toby Stephens as the brooding Mr Rochester. Like Bleak House before it, and to which obvious comparissons will undoubtedly be made, it is a fine example of the BBC once again fulfilling its mandate to strive for quality over the lowest common denominator television shows that other channels seem intent on churning out (yes, McPartlane and Donnely, I’m looking at you). Again, like Bleak House before it, I haven’t read the book, so do not feel encumbered to write in detail about how Jane’s early life was skipped over with scant regard to literary accuracy. The argument is quite a simple one, this is a TV show, that was a book, therefore completely different mediums, which can should result in the same stories being told in different fashions. So here we have Jane, whose childhood was a struggle to say the least until being brought (or was that bought?) to the Rochester’s residence to work as governess to Rochester’s precocious young ward, Adele. There’s lots of dialogue and soul-searching involved but don’t let that put you off because it really is kind of good, the actors are clearly having a great time at being given the opportunity to flex thier collective thespian muscle. The tone is dark and may lack the humour and speed of direction that Bleak House had last year, and more than anything it reminds me of childhood Sunday evenings watching Upstairs Downstairs or The Onedin Line but a change of pace is often a good thing.

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