Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Just William

Why is it that every attempt to film Richmal Crompton's William stories comes a cropper? My guess is that the high quality of the illustrations by Thomas Henry leads to expectations that no boy actor can fulfil. Daniel Roche is the latest juvenile to attempt the role. He is too chubby and his scowl comes across as petulance. He looks more like Hubert Lane than William Brown. The BBC production values for its new series are good; Rebecca Front as the long-suffering Mrs Brown is excellent and Martin Jarvis's narration inspired as usual; but where is that memorable imp which Thomas Henry drew so well? See if you can find him. The next episode is on BBC One at 12:50 tomorrow. Click the title link to read more about Thomas Henry.


At 29/12/10, Blogger Guillaume said...

I don't know the original stories, I actually never heard about them until recently, but I really enjoy the new Just William TV series. It is very difficult to adapt children stories. They are always better written.

At 30/12/10, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Hi, Guillaume

You're probably best coming to the TV series without having read the William books, because then you can't be disappointed.

The William stories are a British institution, published since 1920. You'll find them in the junior section of your local library or in any good bookshop. The illustrations are excellent. The actor Martin Jarvis has been recording the best of them as audio books, and his renditions are brilliant. Highly recommended.

What is often forgotten is that the early William stories were originally published in women's magazines and weren't really intended for children. Richmal Crompton's acerbic digs at pretentious ladies are great fun. And Thomas Henry's illustrations greatly enhance her feminine jibes. Mrs Bott of Bott's Hall and her ghastly daughter Violet Elizabeth are the most famous of Crompton's anti-female creations.

You have got to hear Martin Jarvis's imitation of Violet Elizabeth's "I'll thcream and I'll thcream until I make myselfth thick; (proudly) I can, you know."

The other great British comedy institution is the Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse. A must.

At 30/12/10, Blogger Guillaume said...

I thought some of the humour was quite adult, so it does not surprise me that it was not originally aimed at children. Somehow it reminds me of "Le petit Nicolas" in the French speaking world.

At 31/12/10, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Mr Brown's wit is particularly dry and probably lost on most children.

I haven't come across "Le petit Nicolas", so I guess those books weren't translated into English.

Happy New Year.


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