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Lost in Austen
Lost in Austen.jpg
Lost in Austen intertitle
Written by Guy Andrews
Directed by Dan Zeff
Starring Jemima Rooper
Alex Kingston
Hugh Bonneville
Morven Christie
Elliot Cowan
Gemma Arterton
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 4
Production
Executive producer(s) Guy Andrews
Michele Buck
Damien Timmer
Producer(s) Kate McKerrell
Running time 45 mins.
Production company(s) Mammoth Screen Ltd
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 3 – 24 September 2008 (July 2009 US-PBS)
External links
Official website

Lost in Austen is a four-part 2008 British television series for the ITV network, written by Guy Andrews as a fantasy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Loosely following the plot of Austen's novel, it sees a modern girl somehow transported into the events of the book via a portal located in her bathroom.

In The Times (London)'s 'Top 50 TV Shows of the Noughties' list it was placed at 48. [1]

Contents

Plot

Episode 1 – Amanda Price, a keen Jane Austen fan from present-day Hammersmith, discovers the Pride and Prejudice character Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom. Amanda curiously steps through a secret doorway hidden in the wall that Elizabeth had shown her, and finds herself in the house of the Bennets, Longbourn, at the beginning of the novel. Amanda is trapped in this world, and Elizabeth is meanwhile in 21st Century London. Mr. Bennet is hospitable, and Amanda tries to ensure that the novel progresses as it should. Mr. Bingley visits Longbourn and appears to admire Amanda more than Jane. At the Meryton Assembly Hall she meets Mr. Darcy and Caroline Bingley. Amanda gets drunk and kisses Bingley, immediately regretting it. Later, Amanda then forces Jane to travel to the Bingleys' home in bad weather to get the novel back on track, but when she learns that this may give Jane a fatal attack of grippe (influenza), Amanda follows her to save her.

Episode 2 – While caring for Jane at Netherfield Park, Amanda attempts to put a stop to Bingley's advances by telling him she is a lesbian. On the way back to Longbourn, they meet Wickham when their carriage breaks down. Back at Longbourn, the Bennets are visited by Mr. Collins, the entailed heir of their home. Amanda's initial hostility to Wickham leads to his spreading rumours that, despite her "£27,000 a year" (enormous by Georgian standards), she is actually the daughter of a successful fishmonger. Amanda's attempts to set up Bingley and Jane fail, even when she sacrifices herself to marry Mr. Collins, for Mr. Collins' wife-to-be from the book, Charlotte Lucas, plans to go to Africa. Collins, on hearing that Amanda is the daughter of a fishmonger, breaks off the engagement. Mr. Collins marries Jane, much to Bingley's disappointment. Amanda angrily accuses Darcy of spoiling his friend's chance of happiness, while she admits to herself that she is falling in love with him.

Episode 3 – After Mrs. Bennet ejects Amanda from Longbourn, Wickham prepares Amanda for society. Amanda then travels to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Collins, offering her friendship to Jane, and (trained by Wickham) bluffs her way into Rosings with a false message for Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She finds Darcy, Bingley and Caroline already at Rosings, where she and Darcy continue to argue about Mrs. Collins and Bingley's obvious unhappiness. Meanwhile, at Longbourn, Mrs. Bennet, after arguing with Mr. Bennet, decides to travel to the Collins parsonage to see Jane, taking Lydia with her. At the parsonage, Darcy complains that Amanda must like him, because she followed him to Rosings. She denies this, and blames him for following her; thus he virtually admits to Amanda that he loves her. After the arrival of Mrs. Bennet and Lydia, Darcy invites Amanda to Pemberley. Mrs Bennet overhears his invitation and assumes she is invited too. At Pemberley with the Bennets and Mr. and Mrs. Collins, Amanda's hostility to Darcy wanes as she begins to feel that, in Elizabeth's absence, she must 'understudy' for her. She later learns that Darcy's sister Georgiana was in love with Wickham, and in response to his rejection of her advances, Georgiana told Darcy that Wickham "ravished her." Wickham maintains this falsehood to spare Georgiana's honour, which softens Amanda's hostility towards him. Meanwhile, Mr. Bingley is so heartbroken by Jane's marriage to Mr. Collins that he has taken to befriending Wickham, and drinking heavily. Jane tearfully pleads that he has a "moral duty ... to be happy for them both." Amanda and Darcy admit their love for each other, and Darcy later meets Bingley, who, in his drunken despair punches Darcy in the face. After Caroline's meddling, Amanda reveals to Darcy that she has already lost her virginity. Darcy retreats from his plans to marry her, angering Amanda so much that she rips out the pages of her Pride and Prejudice book and throws it out the window into the garden. While Amanda is packing to leave, Caroline, who has heard of Amanda's supposed lesbianism, appears and admits that her true attraction is to women; she makes a move on Amanda, who rejects her. Amanda later finds Darcy in the garden reading the book; they have a fierce argument, as he believes her to have written it as a roman a clef without any respect for the actual persons.

Episode 4 – Just as Darcy announces his engagement to Bingley's sister Caroline, Mrs. Bennet receives a note telling of Lydia's elopement with Mr. Bingley. Traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and with the sudden appearance of a helpful Wickham, they find Lydia and Mr. Bingley hiding at a local inn in Hammersmith. Darcy arrives moments later, and the elopers admit that nothing happened between them, but an enraged Mr. Bennet attacks Bingley, whose self-defense causes Mr. Bennet's head to crack open. Amanda fears for Mr. Bennet's life and, strongly desiring Elizabeth's presence, bursts out of a door, finding herself in modern-day London. Amanda's old boyfriend drives her to Elizabeth, who she has found work as a nanny; on the way, Amanda spots in a busy London street none other than Darcy, who claims he followed her for love. Elizabeth has thoroughly embraced modern life and is shocked to meet Darcy, as she now knows the novel. Amanda hurries them back to her bathroom and the portal to Longbourn. Mr. Bennet returns home to make a full recovery and is reunited with his daughter, while Darcy regards his experience in modern London as a dream. Lady Catherine arrives at Longbourn and bargains for Amanda's disappearance from society by promising to annul Jane's marriage to Mr. Collins on the grounds of non-consummation. Amanda agrees, and as Lady Catherine takes her leave, it is implied that Captain Wickham will make a play for Caroline. Jane and Bingley plan to leave their past behind and go to America as husband and wife. Elizabeth gets her father's blessing to return to (modern-day) Hammersmith, while Amanda stays and is reunited with Darcy in Pemberley.

Cast

Production

"Lost in Austen" was produced by Mammoth Screen. The first episode was shown on ITV at 9 pm on 3 September 2008, gaining 4.2 million viewers. The remaining episodes were broadcast on a weekly basis.[2] Lost in Austen was released in the UK on DVD on 28 September 2008 and in the United States on 28 April 2009. It contains two discs with the four episodes plus a "Making of" documentary. It premiered in America on the Ovation Channel on 11 January 2009,[3] and in Australia as a two-part series on the ABC on 8 March 2009. [4]

Amanda Price's workplace in Lost in Austen was filmed in Wakefield at the disused Yorkshire Bank building on Westgate. The Beluga Lounge on Market Street, also in Wakefield, was the set of a London wine bar.[5] Several areas inside and outside Cannon Hall at Cannon Hall Museum, near Barnsley, feature in the production, including the oak-panelled ballroom.[6] Leeds-based Screen Yorkshire told production company Mammoth Screen of the potential of some landscapes in the Wetherby district as the setting for Lost in Austen. Filming took place at locations including Bramham Park, parts of York and Leeds City Markets.[7] Harewood House, near to Leeds, was the setting for Pemberley.

31-year-old actor Elliot Cowan (Mr Darcy) got the part when he was playing Henry V, which in his words "has a similar sort of iconography within the theatre canon", so he was not worried. Christina Cole and lead actress Jemima Rooper previously starred together in the Sky One supernatural series Hex[8], whilst Rooper and Mison appeared together shortly afterwards, again on ITV, in the Agatha Christie's Poirot adaptation of Third Girl (first broadcast 28 September 2008). Alex Kingston (Mrs Bennet) found a sadness in her character and played her as if she was "a woman unhappy in her marital situation. Her husband is, in essence, absent in the marriage and in the family, and she's a woman trying to keep everything together when she doesn't really have the emotional tools to do it. It's this that makes her twittery. I think people can be driven slowly to becoming those people by the unfortunate situations that they're in. [...] I think that Mr Bennet is absolutely culpable for his wife's twittering. She's overcompensating for her husband's absence."[9]

Reception

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Ratings

Lost in Austen won critical praise but struggled in the ratings against BBC One's hit series "Who Do You Think You Are?".[10] Consolidated ratings for the first episode averaged 4,185,000 individuals and a 17.6% share. The consolidated ratings for episode two averaged 3,489,000 individuals and a 14.8% share. The third episode's consolidated figures were 3,256,000 and a 13.2% share.[11][12] According to overnight figures, Lost In Austen ended its run with 3.06m and 13.6% share.[10] While the show couldn't match the slot average for the year of 3.8m (16.1%), it gave a significant boost to the commercial network's upmarket profile. Over the series, 46% of the show's audience came from the ABC1 demographic, an increase of 22.7% on the channel's performance so far this year of 37.5%.[13]

Critical reception

Lost in Austen was well received by the press throughout its run. Lost in Austen was the subject of various blogs, including a series by Sarah Dempster writing online in guardian.co.uk. [14][15][16][17]

Reviewing the first episode of the four-parter, a Times writer described Lost in Austen as:

"...a funny, clever breeze...It is a culture-clashing, time-clashing Walnut Whip of frothy nonsense with the intriguing proposition that Amanda may be able to change the outcome of her fictional touchstone."[18]

James Walton of The Daily Telegraph noted that:

"...this is not a sentence that you often hear – but it’s been a good week for drama on ITV1... last night brought us the first episode of Lost in Austen. Of course, as many people have already spotted from its shameless blending of Pride and Prejudice with Life on Mars, the series does come with a distinct whiff of commercial calculation. Yet, so far at least, this only goes to show that commercial calculation can sometimes work rather well. The result can’t be called profound. Nonetheless, it does triumphantly achieve its main aim of being enormously good-natured fun."[19]

The Guardian's reviewer wrote:

"...so perfectly drawn is the world that begins to unfurl - and so sincere and endearing is Guy Andrews' script - that suspension of disbelief becomes part of the fun. It's a fantasy. A fairy tale... So, what's it all about? It's about self-sacrifice, basically, and the restorative wonder of both fantasy and classic literature. It's You Can Heal Your Bustle; Feel The Bonnet and Wear It Anyway. Do you need a working knowledge of the novel to enjoy it? No. I knew absolutely bugger all about any of it bar the basics - Darcy, wet nightshirt, um - but soon found myself immersed in the Bennets' world, buoyed along by a script that positively frolics in the glorious fussiness of Georgian mores... I loved it."[20]

Hermione Eyre in The Independent on Sunday wrote:

"...somewhere in his youth or childhood, Michael Grade must have done something good. Lost In Austen is everything ITV needs it to be: entirely delightful nonsense. What sounded on paper like a cynical hybrid (bonnets and speed dating! This will tick every woman's box!) has arrived on our screens pert, warm and funny. Like Billie Piper, Jemima Rooper is an entirely contemporary actress, effortlessly likeable and believable. Is it the hair? Is it the vowels? There's a sally like her in every shop on every street. She's every bint. A perfect time-travel companion. The faux-Austen dialogue trips off the cast's tongues ("Mr Darcy regards all forms of sudden locomotion as a mark of ill breeding" came out in seconds flat) and the daft, arch tone defibrillates the half-dead genre of period drama... This a sweet and foamy guilty pleasure, the advocaat on the TV cocktail list."[21]

Reviewing episode two, Nancy Banks Smith in The Guardian wrote:

"Lost in Austen (ITV1) continues, fruity and frothy like a jam omelette. This is the fantasy of a very modern girl, Amanda, lost in Pride and Prejudice. Her salary, £27,000 a year, caused some flutters, kicking Mr Darcy's pittance into touch. Mr Collins arrived, looking disturbingly like Disraeli, and Amanda noticed: "He squeezes himself through his trouser pocket. And Then He Sniffs His Fingers!" That's where a top hat comes in handy. Horrifyingly, in spite or because of Amanda's meddling, Mr Collins married Jane last night. Amazingly good for ITV. Surely some mistake here?".[22]

Under the headline "creative revival is not enough to reverse ITV's historic low", Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Media Guardian wrote on 15 September 2008 that:

"...there are two strange things about Lost in Austen. All right, three if we include the premise. The first is that it's an ITV drama series that is getting almost universally good press and word of mouth. This hasn't happened for a while. Second, it's week two of a high-concept contemporary drama and there's no backlash. It's almost enough to start talk of a creative revival at ITV: flawed, but ambitious; a big ask, but answered with verve; polarising and a bit controversial. It is, in short, the sort of thing we've come to expect of BBC1." [23]

Reviewing episode three, Tim Teeman in The Times wrote:

"Guy Andrews, the writer of Lost in Austen, is having so much fun filleting and perverting Pride and Prejudice — “frosty knickers” Caroline Bingley, a lesbian! — you may be becoming vexed as to how the mess that present-day Amanda is wreaking within Austen’s novel will be cleared up. This witty and moving drama’s major failing is we don’t know what Elizabeth Bennet is getting up to in modern-day Hammersmith. But it was fun to have Amanda ask Mr Darcy to emerge from the water so that she could indulge a fantasy she had only read on the page. “I’m having a weird, postmodern moment,” she noted. So were we: it felt good."[24]

Reviewing the final episode Tim Teeman in The Times continued his praise, giving the show five stars and writing:

"Guy Andrews (scriptwriter) and Dan Zeff (director) followed the relationships that Andrews had set askew through to their conclusion... This was wonderfully funny, sad and stirring: the music had me welling up... How clever to turn the time travel question to a radically conclusive purpose...I had another chocolate and marvelled at the sharp yet frothy, subversive-yet-utterly-respectful-of-Austen brilliance of it all. Those performances and the music zinged. It all zinged. Oh Mr Bennet, might we see you again perhaps in a longer-formatted series, or might that be a recipe for disaster? Was this a treat best served with brevity? Did anyone else check the cupboard in their bathroom afterwards . . . just in case?"[25]

Readers of the Media Guardian voted Lost in Austen their 16th favourite TV show of 2008, the first time an ITV drama has made the poll. [26]

Movie

On 11 February 2009, The Guardian newspaper reported that a movie version of the series was in production.[27] Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is attached as an executive producer.

References

  1. ^ http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article6955835.ece
  2. ^ "Lost In Austen | Ep3 Wk38 - ITV Press Centre". Itv.com. http://www.itv.com/PressCentre/LostInAusten/Ep3Wk38/default.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  3. ^ "Jane Austen Today: Viewer Conflict Alert! Lost in Austen vs. Tess of the D'Urbervilles". Janitesonthejames.blogspot.com. http://janitesonthejames.blogspot.com/2009/01/viewer-conflict-alert.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  4. ^ "Lost In Austen - ABC1 Television Guide". Abc.net.au. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/guide/netw/200903/programs/ZY9734A001D8032009T203000.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  5. ^ "Wakefield setting for Austen TV drama". Wakefield Express. http://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/Wakefield-setting-for-Austen-TV.4438167.jp. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  6. ^ Robinson, Gail. "Which South Yorks landmark will be a small-screen star?". The Star. http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/Which-South-Yorks-landmark-will.4447551.jp. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  7. ^ "Wetherby and Bramham Park take starring role in Lost in Austen - Wetherby Today". Wetherbynews.co.uk. http://www.wetherbynews.co.uk/wetherby/Wetherby-and-Bramham-Park-take.4434922.jp. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  8. ^ "Arts: Culture". Sunday Herald. http://www.sundayherald.com/arts/arts/display.var.2436831.0.0.php. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  9. ^ "Gareth McLean meets Alex Kingston | Life and style". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/sep/03/celebrity.television?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  10. ^ a b Wilkes, Neil (September 25 2008). "'Lost In Austen' ends with 3m". digitalspy.co.uk. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a131078/lost-in-austen-ends-with-3m.html. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  
  11. ^ "Television - News - Poor 'Number' for BBC Two ratings". Digital Spy. 2008-09-13. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a130203/poor-number-for-bbc-two-ratings.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  12. ^ Logged in as click here to log out. "TV ratings - September 17: Relative success for Channel 4's Family | Media | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/sep/18/tvratings.television. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  13. ^ "Lost in Austen ends with 3.1m". Broadcastnow.co.uk. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/09/lost_in_austen_ends_with_31m.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  14. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2008-09-04). "Lost in Lost in Austen: Episode 1 | Culture | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/tvandradioblog/2008/sep/04/lostinlostinaustenep1. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  15. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2008-09-11). "Lost in Lost in Austen: sex, sniffing and unnecessarily large forks | Culture | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/tvandradioblog/2008/sep/11/janeausten.itv. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  16. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2008-09-18). "Lost in Lost in Austen: wet britches and Sapphic love | Culture | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/tvandradioblog/2008/sep/18/janeausten.itv. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  17. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2008-09-25). "Lost in Lost in Austen: episode four | Culture | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/tvandradioblog/2008/sep/25/lostinausten4. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  18. ^ "God on Trial; Lost in Austen - Times Online". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article4668035.ece. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  19. ^ The Daily Telegraph: James Walton
  20. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2008-09-04). "Lost in Lost in Austen: Episode 1 | Culture | guardian.co.uk". Blogs.guardian.co.uk. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/tv/2008/09/lost_in_lost_in_austen_ep_1.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  21. ^ "Fiona's Story, BBC 1Lost in Austen, ITV1God on Trial, BBC 2The Sculpture Diaries, Channel 4 - Reviews, TV & Radio". The Independent. 2008-09-07. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film-and-tv/tv-radio-reviews/fionas-story-bbc-1brlost-in-austen-itv1brgod-on-trial-bbc-2brthe-sculpture-diaries-channel-4-921471.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  22. ^ Logged in as click here to log out. "Nancy Banks-Smith on last night's TV | Culture". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2008/sep/11/television.television. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  23. ^ Logged in as click here to log out. "Janine Gibson: Creative revival is not enough to reverse ITV's historic low | Media". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/sep/15/itv.television. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  24. ^ "The Family; Lost in Austen; Who Do You Think You Are? - Times Online". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article4774950.ece. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  25. ^ "Lost in Austen; The Family - Times Online". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article4819807.ece. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  26. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (2009-01-06). "Organ Grinder: your top 40 favourite TV shows of 2008 | Media | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/organgrinder/2009/jan/05/wire-doctorwho?commentpage=1. Retrieved 2009-02-13.  
  27. ^ "Lost in Austen to be Hollywood film". http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/feb/11/lost-in-austen-hollywood-film. Retrieved 2009-02-11.  

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