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Dorothy Sayers' Whimsey novels - do you know the (1980s) TV adaptations?

(367 Posts)
JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 11:33:58

I wasn't sure where to put this thread, but it feels as if it'd be more at home here that the TV threads. I love Dorothy Sayers. MN introduced me to her. I wish they'd do another adaptation, but the 1980s ones are surprisingly good.

The wonderful sconerhymeswithgone showed me the existence of these on youtube. (The link is to Gaudy Night, because that's what I'm watching, but there are lots of earlier ones).

What do you think? I liked the casting, but I have quibbles. And the ending to Gaudy Night is a travesty, right?

stealthsquiggle Sat 10-Jan-15 14:37:23

Placetne magistra? That's no travesty - gets me every time [sniff]

OutDamnSpot Sat 10-Jan-15 14:45:32

I loved them. The TV adaptations were what introduced me to the books.

I had been resisting re watching in case they hadn't help up well but might treat myself to one when dh is out tonight - just watched the credits and was transported back to my parents sitting room and my childhood.

Skatingfastonthinice Sat 10-Jan-15 14:47:27

I watched the first part of 'Strong Poison' on the Drama channel a few days ago. I'm expecting the second half next week.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 15:29:09

Oh, no - I meant, the replacement of 'placetne magistra' is what's a travesty!

I love the book version. Especially the little detail of the horrified proctor walking past, 'and no hand plucked his velvet sleeve'.

out, which do you prefer - books or TV?

I loved 'Have His Carcass' as the TV adaptation, maybe more than the book.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 10-Jan-15 16:17:08

Have His Carcass was the first Wimsey book I read years ago, but I haven't watched the TV adaptions recently. I watched Gaudy Night about two years ago and liked it, but the book is much better. I love Harriet Walter.

Have you seen any of the earlier adaptations, the ones with Ian Carmichael as Wimsey? They are good too, but I like Edward Petherbridge better.

PigeonPie Sat 10-Jan-15 16:21:16

It's such a long time since I've seen the television adaptations, but I do remember that Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter were great as Lord Peter and Harriet. I had got the DVDs on my wish list, but no one's bought them for me and they were unavailable for a while (not sure whether they still are). Would like to see them again though.

The books are my comfort reading and I read them all every couple of years.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 16:25:06

No, I've not seen the Carmichael ones - I'll look.

I have to admit I googled EP, and I still would he's extremely good looking for a bloke in his 70s. But I like that he does actually look how I can imagine Peter looking.

pigeon - watch them on youtube, then? The quality isn't wonderful, but I imagine the DVDs might not be either, unless they're remastered?

I am a little bit disappointed Gaudy Night doesn't have more Oxford in it, though. THe book is really dense with detail.

RustyBear Sat 10-Jan-15 16:48:31

I watched the Ian Carmichael ones as a teenager when they were first shown (and read all the books) and then the Petherbridge ones later on - I always wondered whether they changed actor because they couldn't imagine Carmichael's Wimsey falling in love convincingly with Harriet.

I much prefer Petherbridge as Wimsey, but always felt Richard Morant was wrong as Bunter, too young and too smooth - Bunter was not Jeeves.

I think it's time for a remake - and there are several books that haven't been done - Whose Body, Unnatural Death and Busman's Honeymoon, as well as lots of short stories.

But who would play Peter?

EmpressOfJurisfiction Sat 10-Jan-15 16:53:53

Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter were perfect - Carmichael wasn't nearly as good. Although yes, they ruined the ending of Gaudy Night.

I have no idea who would play him nowadays but I suspect they'd pick Benedict Cumberbatch and bleach his hair.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 16:54:51

I don't hate Richard Morant, but I agree, he isn't quite right.

I can't think of anyone who'd be a brilliant modern Wimsey (but I bet they'd cast Rupert Penry-Jones, who isn't a good enough actor).

One of the things I love about the books and the TV is the dialogue, including the slang, feels so specific (apart from the Scottish one, which is shite). I bet a modern remake would have them all in approximations to modern accents, which would be a pity.

SconeRhymesWithGone Sat 10-Jan-15 17:18:14

I googled Petherbridge, too. Yes, quite attractive. Now I'm fantasizing about a many-years-later continuation series with him and Harriet Walter. She is as wonderful as ever. It would need a very good writer, though. (I haven't read any of the Jill Paton Walsh continuation novels.)

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 17:20:04

Ooh, that would be brilliant.

I've read the JPW's. They're patchy, I think. And I don't think she has the ear for dialogue that is probably what helps Sayers to work well in adaptation.

HolyTerror Sat 10-Jan-15 17:24:36

They'd almost certainly cast Benedict Cumberbatch if they made another adaptation now. Just saying.

(Didn't know about these adaptations at all - but think Harriet Walter is a genius and would have been perfectly cast.)

Skatingfastonthinice Sat 10-Jan-15 17:27:04

He doesn't have the nose for it. smile

LadyPeterWimsey Sat 10-Jan-15 17:29:17

Definitely time for another adaptation. I too have considered Benedict Cumberbatch for the role, but am not sure. He's a bit tall to be entirely accurate but the age is roughly right. In a few years, Tom Hiddleston would do a good job but he's slightly too young, and actually really too tall. Maybe they could just cast everyone else taller? really fancy Tom Hiddleston

ZeroFunDame Sat 10-Jan-15 17:29:51

Oh I fantasised about Peter and Harriet for years. Can't even remember now which came first for me, the books or the TV series. And I re-read them (especially Guady Night and Busman's Honeymoon) every few years.

You're right OP, it's the detail that makes them so compelling.

Are you, btw, a fan of John Buchan or Josephine Tey?

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 17:35:07

I really don't get Tom Hiddleston.

Also, I think it wants to be someone who is definitely not hunky-handsome.

I can't see who Harriet would be at all - though maybe in about ten-fifteen years, Maisie Williams? They'd probably case Keira Knightly, though. hmm

zero - no, though someone's told me to read Tey before on here.

I love all the details. And the language use. My French is rubbish so I don't know what most of those bits are, though.

agoodbook Sat 10-Jan-15 17:35:49

Oh I love those books , and definitely worth a re run .
I even read the one not by Dorothy Sayers- was it called Thrones and Dominations or something like that smile
I also love Rory Alleyn in the Ngaio Marsh books, but I don't think they have ever been done?

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 17:37:30

I found the way the dons were shown in the TV Gaudy Night really disappointing.

HolyTerror Sat 10-Jan-15 17:40:12

How tall is Peter? I agree BC hasn't the nose, but who actually manages (or has ever managed, for that matter?) DLS's 'difficult to pull off' combination of parrot-profiled, fair, fop-about-town and steely, cerebral, sporty, devastatingly attractive ladykiller?

Actually, I hate Peter Wimsey. My love is given to Harriet, Bunter, the Dowager Duchess, and Lady Mary's policeman (whose name escapes me, but who is played by Rupert Graves in Lestrade mode in my head).

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 17:41:45


LadyPeterWimsey Sat 10-Jan-15 17:42:39

I thnk he's about 5'9". There's occasional reference to his sensitivity about his lack of height.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sat 10-Jan-15 17:43:37


I like that we both know that. Though you would have more cause than me.

But, on camera, all that really matters is that he and Harriet are roughly the same height and he doesn't tower over other people, isn't it?

IrenetheQuaint Sat 10-Jan-15 17:45:56

Charles Parker, HolyTerror. I always found him a bit disappointing but the romance-across-class-boundaries is well done.

I love the books and really enjoyed the EP/HW Strong Poison, but haven't watched the other ones in case they were wrong. I still don't think I can face Gaudy Night (especially if they've changed the ending - how dare they??) but will give Have His Carcase a go. The book is not one of my favourites (too much cryptography and bar Wimsey and Harriet the characters aren't very interesting) so not too much to lose.

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