BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Newsnight: Review  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 2 September, 2002, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Sparkhouse
Sparkhouse

"Sparkhouse" is a new BBC drama which transplants Wuthering Heights to 21st Century Yorkshire.

It's by "At Home with the Braithwaites" writer, Sally Wainwright.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


KIRSTY WARK:
Paul Morley, Sally Wainwright is building up a really strong reputation for kind of hard-hitting drama. Is this going to add to it?

PAUL MORLEY:
I guess it is. She clearly is particularly good at that kind of thing. She used to be a soap writer. She wrote things like Coronation Street.

You sometimes get the feeling that soap writers are held back by the soaps that they want to let rip. With this, it's the soap that's gone completely melodramatic and intense and tragic, but essentially it's a great soap, in possibly the way that Bronte was a great soap.

They have utilised the Yorkshire Moors and the whole atmosphere that hopefully gives it more credibility and complexity than it otherwise might have. It was full of energy.

Sarah Smart's fabulous, clearly written for her. I felt that Celia Imrie and Nicholas Farrell, in a way, they were just like Amanda Redman and Peter Davidson, from the Braithwaites, same types of characters.

You could almost see the same cast doing this. It was like the dark side of the Braithwaites.

KIRSTY WARK:
Denise, the reworking of Wuthering Heights, there are definite moments that are triggers, not just with the central characters, but other things that happen too?

DENISE MINA:
I haven't seen the other episodes, but I thought it was superb. The casting is very good. Joe McFadden's accent is a bit wandering and distracting, but they are lucky to have a good cast to carry off these parts.

They are very difficult parts to get right. It takes a slight change of tone and you have like RADA people lolloping about hills in a slightly ghastly way.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
The closest to that is when we have to believe that the male lead has saved himself for the female lead, and the impression they are both virgins...

DENISE MINA:
Do you find that possible?

ADAM MARS-JONES:
You do have to believe that no-one turns on televisions, that they don't have opportunities, and school isn't a knocking shop. It takes some accepting, and the fact that he is not quite young enough to brazen that out, I felt I had to work myself past it.

Sarah Smart was remarkably good. Not many people could feed cattle while singing and make it seem so sexy and funny.

KIRSTY WARK:
You noticed quickly the proximity of these two places. One was the close, middle-class home which is the doctor and his wife, the teacher, nothing to do with the land, and shows the impoverished farming community with the lakes feel to it. I think it's brilliantly done.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
I wish we hadn't had the lightning on the first shot of the moors.

That is intoxicating, and the idea that the only two people who see beauty in the wildness and elementalness of everything they are surrounded with, who don't see it as money or a background to mutual prosperity, the only people who engage with the wildness are the characters.

In that respect, it's not a big thing to swap Kathy and Healthcliff because they're both elementals. It's because they are the same sort of person that they are drawn in the first place. Plus as far as I remember Heathcliff wasn't pregnant at twelve.

PAUL MORLEY:
The two of the kind thing is really well done.

KIRSTY WARK:
You are saying it was like a soap. In a sense, good drama is like a soap.

PAUL MORLEY:
It's like Tim Burton doing Emmerdale. It's great soap writers who do great things within the soap context, liberated to go later into the evening, deal with more dangerous and delicate subjects in a much more surrealistic as well as realistic manner.

I think it's a good thing they are liberated to do that.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
There are a couple of time lapses in the first episode, the first of which was abrupt, then we have a conventional seasons changing.

The story takes many years, and quite whether they will be able to keep the breathless pace when we are talking about a larger vista of time, whether they bring that off, and also if they dare to keep the pet murder in the original book.

If they go for that and the British audience accepts it at prime time, we are in new territory.

KIRSTY WARK:
It's past the pet watershed anyway, isn't it?

DENISE MINA:
Is there one? I didn't think you could kill pets at all on British television.

KIRSTY WARK:
Carol's mother goes and stays away, and because of the time lapse we know she has been away for some time. I think that's quite brave.

ADAM MARS-JONES:
I liked moments where a woman looking at a set of BMW keys changes the plot, something that Bronte would have wanted to do.

DENISE MINA:
Sally's real strength is the dialogue. You really believe these people. The thing about soaps being on later on, the mini series is an art form in itself, and that's a perfect definition.

PAUL MORLEY:
Alun Armstrong now deserves the knighthood, surely.

See also:

05 Apr 02 | Panel

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Review stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes