Blandings (TV series)

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Blandings
Alt=series titles over image of Blandings
Created byP.G. Wodehouse
Written byGuy Andrews
Directed byPaul Seed
Starring
Composer(s)Paul Honey
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Spencer Campbell
Location(s)Crom Castle
CinematographySimon Archer
Running time28-30 minutes
Production company(s)Mammoth Screen
Broadcast
Original channelBBC One
Original run13 January 2013 (2013-01-13) – present
 
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Blandings
Alt=series titles over image of Blandings
Created byP.G. Wodehouse
Written byGuy Andrews
Directed byPaul Seed
Starring
Composer(s)Paul Honey
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)Spencer Campbell
Location(s)Crom Castle
CinematographySimon Archer
Running time28-30 minutes
Production company(s)Mammoth Screen
Broadcast
Original channelBBC One
Original run13 January 2013 (2013-01-13) – present

Blandings is a British comedy television series adapted by Guy Andrews from the Blandings Castle stories of P.G. Wodehouse. It was first broadcast on BBC One from 13th January 2013, and stars Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders and Mark Williams. The series was produced with the partial financial assistance of the European Regional Development Fund.

Contents

Plot

Set in 1929, Lord Emsworth (Spall) resides at Blandings Castle, along with his imperious sister Connie (Saunders), his empty-headed son Freddie (Jack Farthing), and any number of houseguests, love-struck nieces and their boyfriends. He would rather be left in peace with his prize pig The Empress, but his family are always at hand to complicate his life. Offering a reluctant helping hand is his loyal and long-suffering butler, Beach (Mark Williams).[1][2]

Production

The series was produced by Mammoth Screen and was filmed on location at Crom Castle, near Newtownbutler, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Some scenes were also filmed at Florence Court, a National Trust property near Kinawley in south-west County Fermanagh. The producer was Spencer Campbell and the director was Paul Seed. It was the first adaptation of Blandings for British television since the BBC's film of Wodehouse's novel Heavy Weather in 1995.

Cast

L-r Jack Farthing, Jennifer Saunders, Timothy Spall and Mark Williams

Episodes

#TitleWriterDirectorAirdate
1"Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey"Guy AndrewsPaul Seed13 January 2013 (2013-01-13)
Lord Emsworth, keen that his fat pig, the Empress of Blandings, should win the 87th annual Shropshire Agricultural Show, is distraught when his pigman, Wellbeloved (Tony Maudsley), is sent to prison for fourteen days for being drunk and disorderly, especially as the magistrate Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe (Robert Bathurst) is his rival for the prize. The pig immediately goes off her feed and Emsworth is in no state to listen to his sister Connie's bleatings about his niece Angela (Alice Orr-Ewing) breaking off her engagement from Lord Heacham (Brendan Patricks) in favour of the quite unsuitable Jimmy Belford (James Norton), who Emsworth himself always liked. Belford teaches Emsworth the master call, the "pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey" to which all pigs will respond. When Belford is also arrested, Emsworth forgets the call. He, Beach and Angela all try the call on the Empress, but to no avail; just when all looks black, Freddie orchestrates a temporary escape of Belford from prison to show them the call. To everyone's delight the Empress tucks heartily into her food and subsequently wins the contest. 
2"The Go-getter"Guy AndrewsPaul Seed20 January 2013 (2013-01-20)
Rupert Baxter (David Walliams) has been hired by Connie to put the affairs of Blandings and Clarence in order. Baxter's draconian new rules quickly make him unpopular both with Emsworth and the staff of Blandings Castle. When Freddie falls for the dog-loving Pandora (Natalie Burt) he realises he needs a dog and money to woo her. He borrows the cook's mongrel and buys two tons of dog food which he tries to sell to Connie's old schoolfriend Veronica Schoonmaker (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and her American millionaire husband Jimmy (Nick Hardin) as a means to making his fortune. 
3"Company for Gertrude[3]"Guy AndrewsPaul Seed27 January 2013 (2013-01-27)
Clarence hopes to avoid both dancing lessons with Herr Schnellhund (David Bamber) and dancing with his niece Gertrude by getting an appropriate young fathead to keep her company. This turns out to be "Beefy" Bingham (Sam Hoare) in disguise. At the same time, worried at how his Aunt Connie will react to the news, Freddie tries to keep secret that he has married the Portuguese exotic dancer Paquita Manganara (Thaila Zucchi) while in a state of drunkeness. Connie becomes convinced that Paquita is actually a princess and tries to persaude Freddie to marry her, but is Paquita all that she seems? 
4"The Crime Wave at Blandings[3]"Guy AndrewsPaul Seed3 February 2013 (2013-02-03)
When Rupert Baxter (David Walliams) returns to Blandings as tutor to Clarence's grandson George during the summer holidays, Connie is keen that he should resume his duties as Clarence's secretary permanently. Freddie turns up at Blandings, owing money to an East End gangster, with beguiling dancer Georgia (Paloma Faith), who takes a fancy to Beach and is determined to make him dance. Clarence threatens that if Baxter goes anywhere near his desk he will shoot him, and when Baxter tidies the desk George shoots Baxter in the backside. Unable to resist the temptation Clarence does the same, leading him to be blackmailed by both Freddie and Baxter himself. When Connie and Beach also use his rear as a target Baxter resigns and departs gingerly on his motorcycle combination. 
5"Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend[3]"10 February 2013 (2013-02-10)
When the gardener Angus McAllister (Ron Donachie) resigns on the eve of the Blandings Fete and the visit of the children from the London Fresh Air Society, Clarence must do everything he can to get him back, including agreeing to allow his beloved moss path to be gravelled. Among the children are Gladys (Molly Colin) and her younger brother Ern (Ashley Foster). The newly reformed Freddie determines to keep on the straight and narrow by helping his father avoid having to give a speech and wear a top hat at the fete, until he is tempted by the children's attractive teacher, Miss Younghusband (Emily Beecham). When McAllister makes it a condition of his staying that The Empress should go and that no more flowers are to be cut in the garden it is a demand too far for Clarence. When Gladys is locked up with The Empress by Connie for throwing a stone at McAllister's shin who is chasing her for picking flowers and stealing sandwiches and a slice of cake for her brother Ern, her stone throwing prowess and love of flowers endear her to Clarence as he comes to her rescue and stands up to McAllister. 
6"Problem with Drink[3]"17 February 2013 (2013-02-17)
When Wellbeloved leaves Blandings to visit his mother in Tewkesbury his absence causes flatulence in The Empress and anxiety in Clarence. Freddie returns having sworn to give up women for good and devote his life to alcohol, until he meets Amazonian Monica Simmons (Emerald Fennell), the niece of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe and Wellbeloved's replacement, who arrives at Blandings with the impoverished Dowager Lady Daphne Littlewood (Jessica Hynes) and her young son Huxley (Toby Murray), the new Marquis. Daphne sets her sights on Clarence, and pretends an interest in pigs in general and in The Empress in particular, making it clear to Connie that after her wedding to Clarence both Connie and Beach will have to leave Blandings. As Clarence prepares to propose he discovers that Daphne is only after his money and that her interest in The Empress is feigned, and she is forced to leave Blandings for good taking the complaining Huxley with her. 

Reception

Reviews for the first episode were mixed, with Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraph awarding it two stars out of five and writing "Wodehouse has a perspicacity and wisdom that prevent him from being mere froth. And that was the problem with Blandings (BBC One), a six-part adaptation of the Blandings Castle stories. There was no authorial voice, wry, gently mocking, poised with a sinuous metaphor or sprightly adjective. Instead we were on our own with Lord Emsworth (Timothy Spall), his baleful sister Connie (Jennifer Saunders), vapid son Freddie (Jack Farthing) and beloved pig, the Empress, as they went about their lives in a crumbling English stately home... You can’t invest psychological complexity into Wodehouse’s characters, the clarity and depth comes from the writing, and so the cast were all at sea. The performances weren’t bad exactly, but there was an impression that the cast had raided the charity shop and were merely having a spiffing time in vintage clothing... Of course the benefit to Guy Andrews’s script was that the lovely dialogue remained intact, and no line felt cumbersome or inappropriately modern."[4]

Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail was more enthusiastic, writing "having watched the first episode last night, I am impressed. The Beeb could have a hit on its hands. The show manages to get across the genial eccentricity of Wodehouse without overdoing the poshness, and some of the acting — particularly Mark Williams as tipsy butler Beach, a wonderful contrast to Downton’s Carson — is a delight. The plot bowls along, but there is enough time for an affectionate picture of country life to develop. And one of the prime contributors to that quirkiness is our plump friend Mr Spall. So maybe the casting director was right, after all."[5]

References

External links