As several of my regular correspondents and readers know, I have recently watched and enjoyed the latest version of Jane Eyre, courtesy of a repeat on BBC 4 TV recently and a kind co-resident taping it for us to watch at leisure (a.k.a. consumer control).
When the series (in 4 parts) was first shown on BBC earlier in the year, it received pretty negative reviews. As I’d fairly recently seen the previous BBC version (Timothy Dalton as Mr Rochester), I thought I wouldn’t bother with the logistics of taping and finding time to view the new one.
At Christmas, however, Richard Morrison of the Times asked readers for their favourite show of 2006. More than half of the respondents nominated Jane Eyre, as Richard M revealed here. The repeat showing of all 4 episodes in one evening overcame recorder’s resistance, and based on the usually reliable RM’s recommendation, we went ahead. The production was adapted by Sandy Walsh; Ruth Wilson (who I am told was not very well known previously) played Jane and Toby Stephens took on the more difficult role of Mr Rochester. I was quite won over by his portrayal. I had never much liked Mr Rochester in my previous readings of the book, but now I’m older I found that although I didn’t like him still up until "the" wedding scene, I became increasingly sympathetic to his dilemma and actions subsequently. Toby Stephens gave a sincere and committed performance as well as being suitably irascible and, yes, passionate.
The production has been showing on TV in the United States and is also now available on DVD. Highly recommended.
Some previous productions:
Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke.