We think Jane Austen would be shocked but also remarkably pleased with this rendering of her work. The lively script, set against a backdrop of lavish sets, stately homes, ladies in ball gowns and the smouldering Colin Firth all combine to make this a series to watch and rewatch.
A Fine Romance
Though Colin Firth's Mr Darcy is widely accepted as approaching perfection, he turned down the part when it was first offered, thinking it was "girly stuff". When he started reading the script, he soon realised that it was a part he'd be mad to pass up. Jennifer Ehle, who plays the tomboyish and naturally beautiful Elizabeth, started dating Firth early on in filming, but they couldn't draw on the relationship long. By the time they kissed onscreen, they had broken up in real life. Their break-up didn't hurt their performances though. Ehle later won a BAFTA for her role, and Firth was nominated for one as well.
When pitching the project to a BBC exec, the producer didn't mention the title of the series: "We made it sound very modern, very contemporary. [The executive] was beside himself and asked if we'd secured the rights to the book! We assured him that we had and he was totally taken aback when we told him that it was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that we'd been talking about!"
A Jones for Mr Darcy
In Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget continually obsesses about Mr Darcy (as played by Colin Firth) in Pride and Prejudice. Clever casting of the Bridget Jones' Diary film resulted in Colin Firth playing Mark Darcy, who Bridget detests at first, until he sweeps her off her feet. Firth reprised the role in the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Never the Twain
Though Jane Austen's novels continue to be loved worldwide and the film versions adored as well, not everyone feels passionate about her work.
"Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone," wrote Mark Twain. "Anything like warmth or enthusiasm; anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works," echoed Charlotte Brontë.
The Young One
Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 and written by Austen when she was 20 years old. Yet she still managed to crank out some enduring observations: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Anyone been watching Joe Millionaire?