BBC4 is currently showing a short series of documentaries about "romantic fiction", the first episode dealt mainly with the authors and rise of romantic fiction via Mills and Boon and also looked at the current state of romantic fiction, chick lit, etc.
This week the topic of the programme was "Heroes" and in this context, I think the general consensus was darker, the broodier and meaner the better. Daisy Godwin, the host concentrated on four romantic heroes: Darcy, Rochester, Heathcliff and (her favourite) Rhett Butler.
The documentary had a lot of talking heads, telling us what their specific favourite was and why. But the best fun was definitely the e-fit of four perfect Mr. Darcy's. Daisy and a few other Darcyites went to a police station (where else to find a romantic hero!) and with the help of a taciturn (and probably slightly confused) old Policeman got down to creating the picture of their perfect Mr. Darcy.
Darcy one (left) looks incredibly grumpy and appears to have bloodshot eyes. The poor lamb does look like he's been crying.
Darcy two, the one with the anaemic sideburns also looks mournful, a look compounded, I think, by his unsymmetrical eyebrows
Darcy three (below) looks, as Daisy commented, like the Grecian 2000 man. I can't help suspecting, alas, that he's wearing a wig!
Darcy four, is Daisy's perfect Darcy and as Darcy's go, looks pretty modern, but I never would have cast him as a redhead.
The ladies all came to the general conclusion, that despite their best efforts, the best Darcy was Colin Firth. Who even, I have to admit, is tenaciously and resolutely connected to Darcy now, it's hard to envision anyone else as Darcy; poor Matthew McFadyen didn't even get a mention.
Daisy then moved on to Charlotte Bronte and "Jane Eyre", not to mention Mr. Rochester.
After a quick visit to Haworth and the parsonage where she saw Charlotte's study (below)
Daisy went to the set of Jane Eyre 2006 and met Toby Stephens, who is playing Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre 2006 and asked him about his character.
Toby said that his first impression of Rochester was that he was this taciturn and moody, brooding fellow, but once he had re-read the novel, he came to the conclusion that Rochester was a garrulous fellow, in his own words: "He never shuts up!" He also concluded that he found Rochester quite theatrical.
Unfortunately the interview was very brief, and not much else was discussed which was a shame, I wonder if it was always to be such a brief interview, or if the need for Toby to return to the set was too pressing. Whatever the reason for the brevity of the interview, I for one would have loved to have heard more from Toby, for him to explain in more detail what he understood about Rochester's character and what he thought of "Jane Eyre" as a novel from a male perspective.
Having seen the first episode, I thought Toby's eyes were darker in it, however in this picture, they seem far lighter and greener. Not a criticism, just a brief aside. Perhaps Toby's been made to wear darker contacts for the role.
Now for a blog exclusive: the documentary had a brief clip from a future episode of "Jane Eyre" between Jane and St. John Rivers:
Jane is being quizzed by St. John about Rochester and he tells her he knows that Rochester proposed marriage while he first wife was still living and that his fiance then ran away.
Unfortunately the brief clip was drowned out by Daisy telling us the story so far, so the clip is mainly Jane looking upset and St. John looking slightly smug.
St. John says that Rochester must have been either a bigger man, or a bitter man, my recording was not entirely without blips, so I can't quite make it out. Jane's reply is "you didn't know him".
The rest of the programme was given over to a disection of Heathcliff's character (puppy strangler) and Daisy's favourite hero, Rhett Butler. Daisy goes to Atlanta, dresses up as Scarlett O' Hara and goes on the pull, I mean she tries to find a Rhett Butler of her own. After a false start with guy who looks entirely comfortable with computers, she finds this guy; a man who looks like he would be entirely comfortable in the company of hogs.
I am not being generous here, he seemed like a very nice fellow, with a deep and sonorous voice, and even if he is not the most, ahem, photogenic man in the world, he at least got Daisy somewhat flustered and hit her Rhett Butler shaped target.
Next week, Daisy is going to be looking at romantic heroines.