It must be admitted that my social calendar has taken an upward turn of late. Opportunities to mix with non-Liberal Democrats were few and far between before Ros entered my life, part of the problem of dedicating yourself to the dark side (that’s bureaucracy, by the way, not liberal democracy…).
Last night, we had the great pleasure of attending a screening of the first episode of the new BBC costume drama, ‘Cranford’, based on the works of Mrs Gaskell, and filmed with an all-star cast, including Dame Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Julia Sawalha and a galaxy of familiar faces. I’ve never had much time for such things, and don’t watch a great deal of television these days (something which may now change), and might not have picked up on it had the screening not come along.
I was, I must admit, quite impressed. The production values are reflective of the very best of public service television, and one must presume that the co-production with an American television station will assure ‘Cranford’ of a wide audience. The cast gel together well, forming, as the Controller of BBC1 put it, the world’s best repertory company, and the sets look fairly convincing (although I’m certain that someone will pick holes in it if they look hard enough).
The first episode sets the scene and introduces the main characters, and you are sucked into the life of a small country town, its character, mores and idiosyncrasies. I understand that other characters will be developed as the story unfolds, leading me to the view that it will be an hour well-spent on Sunday evenings, especially as winter draws in.
The screening concluded, to warm applause, we all adjourned to Dartmouth House for the associated party. For critics of the BBC, the generous provision of food and drink will, I’m sure, be another reason to attack waste and inefficiency. However, it is not unreasonable for the BBC to show off its achievements, especially given pressures on budgets from politicians, some of whom should really know better. Ros and I got to talk to some of the performers, and mingle with the other guests, many of whom were parliamentarians interested in media and the arts.
It is interesting to see supposedly sworn enemies chatting amicably over a canapé or a glass of wine or, more commonly, both. Whilst in the Lords, that sort of thing is rather discouraged; the rather rowdier Commons does tend to encourage a presumption that opposition members avoid each other away from Westminster. This is clearly not so…
All in all, a really pleasant way to spend the evening on a birthday, and I look forward to broadening my cultural outlook in the years to come…