Best classic adaptations

colin firth- pride and prejudice

I remember sitting in school having to read lots of classic books and it most often bored me witless, but then a TV adaptation would turn up and I’d love to watch it! Maybe they should have just shown us the TV version and we’d all have sailed through our English literature exams, but which have been the best classic novel adaptations?

There seem to be some authors who telly folk just love to take a story from and make it into a film or TV series; Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and the Bronte’s are firm favourites for TV and film adaptations.

Some have been done time and time again such as Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and of course, given the time of year, Dicken’s tale of the miserly Scrooge springs to mind.

I love these adaptations because if they’re done well, they’re very atmospheric and full of bodice ripping japery and Victorian England darkness but do they really reflect the original book? Well, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion but the fact is, where many of us wouldn’t pick up the original book, we’ll happily watch an adaptation!

One of my favourite adaptations is of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited which, though it took some liberties with the original text, was a very lavish and faithful adaptation that gripped the nation when it was first shown on TV. The relationship between Charles and Sebastian and their forbidden love was all set in a magnificent house and it was all jolly hockey sticks, public schools, cricket and golly gosh… lovely jubbly! Here’s a clip from it…

As I mentioned earlier, Pride and Prejudice has been adapted for both small and big screen countless times but the TV adaptation that cast Colin Firth in the role of Mr Darcy again had the nation gripped. Here’s a clip from the episode where the lovely Colin strips off – down to his under garments! – and jumps in a lake…

Jane Austen’s books have been a gift to TV and film producers and as well as Pride and Prejudice, we’ve been treated to adaptations of Emma, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility.

Ditto Dickens; his works have been transferred to screen more times than I’ve had hot dinners. We’ve had Nicholas Nickelby, Little Dorrit, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Pickwick Papers and Hard Times to name but a few. And of course there’ve been literally dozens of versions of A Christmas Carol.

My all time favourite version is the 1951 adaptation starring Alistair Sim in the role of Scrooge. It’s brilliant and very creepy! Here’s a clip…

Of course there are no fabulous effects and it’s not even in colour but of all the adaptations of A Christmas Carol, this one most closely follows the original story for me and the fact that it’s in black and white just adds to its authenticity.

You can’t beat a bit of Dickens at Christmas can you! And on that note, I thought I’d end this piece with another of my favourite A Christmas Carol adaptations…


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