Category Archives: Anglophilia

This Year’s BBC Agatha Christie Adaptation — The Pale Horse

Under terms originally set forth in the Magna Carta, the BBC is required by law to broadcast at least one big new Agatha Christie dramatization every year. Since they can only remake And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, and Death on the Nile two or three times a decade, BBC management occasionally looks to Christie’s lesser-known works for inspiration.

This year, they’re giving us Christie’s witchy 1961 novel, The Pale Horse. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are absent from this one, but Ariadne Oliver—friend of Poirot, mystery novelist, and frequent stand-in for the author herself—plays a prominent role.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the cast:

The Pale Horse is available on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and starting this weekend, on Amazon Prime in the US.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020, Is Pancake Day


“The Fight Between Carnival and Lent”, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pancake Day has never caught on in the US, and that’s an American deficiency that should be corrected. It’s celebrated around the world, but especially in the British Commonwealth, on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent.

a

In towns throughout the UK, schools shut down at 11 AM, and roads are closed to traffic so that local citizens can race through the streets, tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in frying pans as they go.

b

If you happen to be in London, which is to Pancake Day what New Orleans is to Shrove Tuesday, but with fewer next-day regrets, TimeOut has posted a list of some of the pancake races, pancake eating contests, and create-your-own dream pancake celebrations.

Up until a year ago, you could also watch teams from the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the media competed for the title of Parliamentary Pancake Race Champions, in support of the charity Rehab. The fun relay race has apparently become yet another casualty of Brexit bitterness.

c

If you’re in the US, you can still celebrate! IHOP, which I believe is a public interest organization of some sort, has got into the spirit of Pancake Day by offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to every guest on 25 February 2020.


Disclaimer

(This comment was neither sponsored nor endorsed by IHOP, formerly known as the International House of Pancakes, not that I’d turn down some coupons for free stacks if they offered them in exchange for the wide exposure this blog post will give them. I mean, I’m an Influencer, dammit. My recommendation will make their pancakes sell like…well, off-hand I can’t think of a good analogy.  I don’t know, maybe Popeye’s chicken sandwiches* or something.)

*Which I also like and would gladly recommend, for a small sum.

Sotheby’s Auction Results: That Mario Buatta Chinoiserie Wallpaper Screen

I mentioned in an earlier post how much I lusted after one specific item from Sotheby’s auction of Mario Buatta’s personal possessions, the  “Louis XV Five-Fold Blue and White Chinoiserie Wallpaper Screen, the Wallpaper 18th Century”. I promised to post the sale price after the auction.

The auction is over now, and it was a huge success, bringing in $7.6 million, about 2½ times the official Sotheby’s high estimate.

And the screen? The pre-sale estimate was that it would go for $4,000 to $6,000.

It went for $15,000.

Sotheby’s Auction of the Mario Buatta Estate

Mario Buatta, affectionately known as “The Prince of Chintz”, died in October 2018 at the age of 82. On 23 January 2020, Sotheby’s will host an auction of his personal possessions, under the title Mario Buatta: Prince of Interiors.

Here’s a pdf of the full 236-page catalogue for the auction, suitable for downloading.

If I could pick just one item from that catalogue, it would be this:

The catalogue describes it as a “Louis XV Five-Fold Blue and White Chinoiserie Wallpaper Screen, the Wallpaper 18th Century” The estimate is between $4,000 and $6,000, but auction house estimates for this sort of thing are always absurdly low, so as not to frighten away potential buyers. I’ll post the real price after the auction.


Mario Buatta’s interiors were designed to be reminiscent of the rooms in an English country house. Here are some samples, found on the Web:


I’ve always thought of Buatta as the Ralph Lauren of interior design.

Ralph Lauren (né Lifshitz) was born in The Bronx in the 1930s, to first-generation Jewish immigrants from Belarus. Lauren has built his empire by styling clothes that reflect a classic old-money WASP sensibility, very different from the world of his youth.

Mario Buatta was born on Staten Island in 1930s, and grew up in a house where the living
room “was off-limits so that the vacuum tracks might not get disturbed.” Buatta became the master of a style that captured the look and feel of the English country house.

From BBC Earth — A Glorious Seven Worlds, One Planet

For the past few weeks, a brilliant new nature series called Seven Worlds, One Planet, has been playing on BBC One. Each of the seven episodes focuses on a different continent; segments of the show were filmed in 41 different countries.

The narrator is naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as if it could be anyone else.

Here’s a sample, in which a Giant Leopard Seal pursues a Tiny Penguin:

Warning. The photography in the show is stunning, but Nature is not always pretty. Some viewers in the UK have responded to parts of the series with tears or nausea.

US viewers will be able to judge for themselves when Seven WorldsOne Planet premieres on Saturday, 18 January 2020, on BBC America, AMC, IFC,  and SundanceTV.


Survivor: Galápagos

From Planet Earth II — View in Full Screen

Remember the famous “Iguana vs Snakes” sequence from the BBC series, Planet Earth II?  When that little iguana made a run for safety as the rocks around it erupted with dozens of hungry snakes, we witnessed the most exciting chase scene in any movie or TV show released in 2016. I’ve reposted it at the bottom of this item. Three years later, it’s as breathtaking as ever.

His Dark Materials Arrives Tonight on HBO

The new adaptation of Philip Pullman’s bestselling fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, a collaborative project by the BBC and HBO, premiered in the UK last night, to rapturous reviews and the highest ratings for a new drama on British TV in five years. The Independent called it “A beautiful, brooding vision of Philip Pullman’s universe that is unafraid to air the book’s anti-theocratic messages.” (★★★★★). The Telegraph said it was “…a gorgeously-realised version of Philip Pullman’s novels.” (★★★★). And The Guardian hailed it as “a riveting realisation of Philip Pullman’s magic.” (★★★★★).

American critics have been somewhat less impressed, but the Tomatometer is still 82% “certified fresh”.

His Dark Materials is set, at least at the beginning, in a world that is not quite ours. There’s an Oxford University, but the Magisterium (a thinly disguised Catholic Church) dominates society. Technology is at about the same level as it was during our Victorian Age. And then there are the dæmons….

The eight-episode series will run from 4 November 2019 through 22 December 2019, and has already been renewed for a second season. That suggests the show will take its time covering Pullman’s three-volume epic, and may well extend the scope of the story.

Fourteen-year-old Dafne Keen plays the key role of “Lyra Belacqua”, with Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in prominent roles.

Worth checking out.

The Crown — Season 3 Official Trailer

Back in August, Netflix released a teaser for the upcoming third season of The Crown. and gave us our first real look at Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II.

Today we got the first full trailer.  We’re into the mid-60s now, and the times—and the cast of The Crown—they are a-changin’.

The Radio Times ran a great write-up about the new cast last week, and I’ve gleefully stolen plagiarized borrowed its comparison shots of the actors in the series and the people they portray.


Olivia Colman plays Queen Elizabeth


Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip


Helena Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret


Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles


Marion Bailey plays the Queen Mother

Season Three of The Crown arrives on Netflix on 17 November 2019.