To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejduice, social historian Amanda Vickery leads a team of experts to recreate a Regency Ball in honour of the iconic novel.
Amanda is joined by Alastair Sooke and a group of professionals including a food historian, a costume expert, music history academics and a choreographer. This choreographer is tasked with training a team of dance student to take to the floor as cameras follow their recreation of Austen’s Netherfield Ball. This intimate country house ball drives the plot of Pride and Prejudice, and is a key turning point in the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy.
The first readers of Pride and Prejduice would have understood the workings of a private ball, and this programme sets out to recapture this detail. Amanda and her team hope to enable modern audiences to understand Austen’s novel by fully reimagining the time in which she lived.
This charming documentary captures every element of a Regency Ball, from the careful preparation of the food and clothes to the etiquette and manners expected of dancers in the ballroom. Amanda explores the male and female fashions of the day, and meets a make-up artist producing authentic products from scratch, including rouge worn by the women and Red Coat officers.
Amanda and Alastair observe the dancers in rehearsal, revealing just how energetic the routines were and, lured by the uplifting and traditional music, even attempt a few steps themselves. As the day of the ball dawns, Alastair dons his breeches, and attempts to channel Mr Darcy’s poise. Alastair also hopes to avoid the clumsy moves of the bumbling Mr Collins when he takes to the dance foor.
Amanda and literacy expert John Mullan observe the splendour and spectacle from the side-lines as they reflect on the importance of the ball and its role in society. As young men and women embarked on the pursuit of a partner, the Regency ball was an arena where your every move could make or break your chance in the highly competitive marriage market.
Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm
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