Doctor Thorne

Andrew Davies described his screenwriting approach to War and Peace and Pride and Prejudice yesterday. Captivated by Julian Fellowes’ ITV adaptation of Doctor Thorne (1/3) tonight. It’s a sumptuous delight – and there’ll doubtless be more written about the detail later. Suffice to say, for now, that I think Tolstoy, Austen and Trollope would be spellbound and delighted. Even post-Downton I hadn’t realised quite how much the great modern screenwriter is a supreme artist in his or her own right.

Adapting the Classics

A super afternoon at Words by the Water at Theatre by the Lake.

David Ward did a great job of interviewing screenwriter Andrew Davies – “prolific writer of film scripts, adaptations, screenplays, novels and books for children” – most recently lauded for his BBC adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, (which he reckoned to have read on a beach holiday), but also the pen behind the wonderful Jane Austen’s (Firth/Ehrle) Pride and Prejudice, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and R F Delderfield’s To Serve Them All My Days. 

We learned about the dynamics between writers, script editors and executive producers, and about the always-via-the-director etiquette involved in a writer’s wanting to improve an actor’s performance. I warmed especially to an answer to perhaps the most obvious question: “HOW do you go about adapting these great classics for television and screen?” Well, came the reply, “I suppose I think in pictures. I have real sympathy, actually, when people tell me ‘oh, she doesn’t look like that.’ That’s good.”

We’re gripped and inspirited when words help us paint pictures.