Blandings (TV series)
|Based on||P. G. Wodehouse short stories and characters|
|Written by||Guy Andrews|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||13 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||29 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Mammoth Screen|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Picture format||16:9 1080i|
|Original release||13 January 2013– present|
Blandings is a British comedy television series adapted by Guy Andrews from the Blandings Castle stories of P. G. Wodehouse. It was first broadcast on BBC One from 13 January 2013, and stars Timothy Spall, Jennifer Saunders, Tim Vine and Mark Williams. The series was produced with the partial financial assistance of the European Regional Development Fund.
Set in 1929, Lord Emsworth (Spall) resides at Blandings Castle, along with his imperious sister Connie (Saunders), his empty-headed son Freddie (Jack Farthing), and any number of houseguests, love-struck nieces and their boyfriends. He would rather be left in peace with his prize pig The Empress, but his family is always at hand to complicate his life. Offering a reluctant helping hand is his loyal and long-suffering butler, Beach (Mark Williams, Tim Vine).
The series was produced by Mammoth Screen and was filmed on location at Crom Castle, near Newtownbutler, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Some scenes were also filmed at Florence Court, a National Trust property near Kinawley in south-west County Fermanagh. The producer was Spencer Campbell and the director was Paul Seed. It was the first adaptation of Blandings for British television since the BBC's film of Wodehouse's novel Heavy Weather in 1995.
Cast and characters
- Timothy Spall - Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth
- Jennifer Saunders - Lady Constance Keeble
- Jack Farthing - The Hon. Frederick Threepwood
- Mark Williams - Sebastian Beach (series 1)
- Tim Vine - Sebastian Beach (series 2)
- Ron Donachie as Angus McAllister
- Robert Bathurst as Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe
- Julian Rhind-Tutt as Galahad Threepwood
Series 1 (2013)
|1||"Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||13 January 2013|
|Lord Emsworth, keen that his fat pig, the Empress of Blandings, should win the 87th annual Shropshire Agricultural Show, is distraught when his pigman, Wellbeloved (Tony Maudsley), is sent to prison for fourteen days for being drunk and disorderly, especially as the magistrate Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe (Robert Bathurst) is his rival for the prize. The pig immediately goes off her feed and Emsworth is in no state to listen to his sister Connie's bleatings about his niece Angela (Alice Orr-Ewing) breaking off her engagement from Lord Heacham (Brendan Patricks) in favour of the quite unsuitable Jimmy Belford (James Norton), whom Emsworth himself always liked. Belford teaches Emsworth the master call, the "pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey" to which all pigs will respond. When Belford is also arrested, Emsworth forgets the call. He, Beach and Angela all try the call on the Empress, but to no avail; just when all looks black, Freddie orchestrates a temporary escape of Belford from prison to show them the call. To everyone's delight the Empress tucks heartily into her food and subsequently wins the contest.|
|2||"The Go-getter"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||20 January 2013|
|Rupert Baxter (David Walliams) has been hired by Connie to put the affairs of Blandings and Clarence in order. Baxter's draconian new rules quickly make him unpopular both with Emsworth and the staff of Blandings Castle. When Freddie falls for the dog-loving Pandora (Natalie Burt) he realises he needs a dog and money to woo her. He borrows the cook's mongrel and buys two tons of dog food, which he tries to sell to Connie's old schoolfriend Veronica Schoonmaker (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and her American millionaire husband Jimmy (Nick Hardin) as a means to making his fortune.|
|3||"Company for Gertrude"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||27 January 2013|
|Clarence hopes to avoid both dancing lessons with Herr Schnellhund (David Bamber) and dancing with his niece Gertrude by getting an appropriate young fathead to keep her company. This turns out to be "Beefy" Bingham (Sam Hoare) in disguise. At the same time, worried at how his Aunt Connie will react to the news, Freddie tries to keep secret that he has married the Portuguese exotic dancer Paquita Manganara (Thaila Zucchi) while in a state of drunkenness. Connie becomes convinced that Paquita is actually a princess and tries to persuade Freddie to marry her, but is Paquita all that she seems?|
|4||"The Crime Wave at Blandings"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||3 February 2013|
|When Rupert Baxter (David Walliams) returns to Blandings as tutor to Clarence's grandson George during the summer holidays, Connie is keen that he should resume his duties as Clarence's secretary permanently. Freddie turns up at Blandings, owing money to an East End gangster, with beguiling dancer Georgia (Paloma Faith), who takes a fancy to Beach and is determined to make him dance. Clarence threatens that if Baxter goes anywhere near his desk he will shoot him, and when Baxter tidies the desk George shoots Baxter in the backside. Unable to resist the temptation Clarence does the same, leading him to be blackmailed by both Freddie and Baxter himself. When Connie and Beach also use his rear as a target Baxter resigns and departs gingerly on his motorcycle combination.|
|5||"Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||10 February 2013|
|When the gardener Angus McAllister (Ron Donachie) resigns on the eve of the Blandings Fete and the visit of the children from the London Fresh Air Society, Clarence must do everything he can to get him back, including agreeing to allow his beloved moss path to be gravelled. Among the children are Gladys (Molly Colin) and her younger brother Ern (Ashley Foster). The newly reformed Freddie determines to keep on the straight and narrow by helping his father avoid having to give a speech and wear a top hat at the fete, until he is tempted by the children's attractive teacher, Miss Younghusband (Emily Beecham). When McAllister makes it a condition of his staying that The Empress should go and that no more flowers are to be cut in the garden it is a demand too far for Clarence. When Gladys is locked up with The Empress by Connie for throwing a stone at McAllister's shin who is chasing her for picking flowers and stealing sandwiches and a slice of cake for her brother Ern, her stone throwing prowess and love of flowers endear her to Clarence as he comes to her rescue and stands up to McAllister.|
|6||"Problems with Drink"||Guy Andrews||Paul Seed||17 February 2013|
|When Wellbeloved leaves Blandings to visit his mother in Tewkesbury his absence causes flatulence in The Empress and anxiety in Clarence. Freddie returns having sworn to give up women for good and devote his life to alcohol, until he meets Amazonian Monica Simmons (Emerald Fennell), the niece of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe and Wellbeloved's replacement, who arrives at Blandings with the impoverished Dowager Lady Daphne Littlewood (Jessica Hynes) and her young son Huxley (Toby Murray), the new Marquis. Daphne sets her sights on Clarence, and pretends an interest in pigs in general and in The Empress in particular, making it clear to Connie that after her wedding to Clarence both Connie and Beach will have to leave Blandings. As Clarence prepares to propose he discovers that Daphne is only after his money and that her interest in The Empress is feigned, and she is forced to leave Blandings for good taking the complaining Huxley with her.|
Series 2 (2014)
|1 (7)||"Throwing Eggs"||Guy Andrews||Mandie Fletcher||16 February 2014|
|The Duke of Dunstable (Harry Enfield) - the most obnoxious man in Britain - has come to stay at Blandings. Not content with smashing the fixtures, he is determined to have Clarence committed as a lunatic|
|2 (8)||"Dirty Work at the Crossroads"||Guy Andrews||Mandie Fletcher||23 February 2014|
|Clarence and Connie's censorious elder sister Charlotte (Celia Imrie) is threatening to stay permanently at Blandings and making everybody's life miserable. The situation deteriorates when Freddie tries to unite two star-crossed lovers, Clarence's secretary Hugo Carmody (Max Olesker) and his niece Millicent (Ruby Thomas) by stealing the Empress.|
|3 (9)||"Hallo to All This"||Guy Andrews||Geoffrey Sax||2 March 2014|
|Galahad 'Gally' Threepwood (Julian Rhind-Tutt), Clarence's incorrigible younger brother, intends to publish a fantastically indiscreet memoir that will disgrace the family. Connie must stop him at all costs.|
|4 (10)||"Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best"||Guy Andrews||Geoffrey Sax||9 March 2014|
|Blanding's heating has failed and Clarence has grown a preposterous beard. Freddie woos a Hollywood starlet, Pauline Petite (Zoe Boyle), by allowing a movie, headed by Grumman (Michael Brandon) to be made at Blandings but Connie must not find out. Matters are complicated by religious maniac Drusilla (Nichola McAuliffe) who thinks Beach is a sex maniac.|
|5 (11)||"Sticky Wicket at Blandings"||Guy Andrews||Mandie Fletcher||16 March 2014|
|Colonel Horace Fanshawe (James Fleet), with his daughter Valerie (Sophie Colquhoun), calls to sound out Clarence as his successor as Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, an honour for which Connie is desperate; but Beach is behaving peculiar. Blandings is more than ever an embarrassing shambles. Freddie is taken with Valerie and she takes Mugsy, the dog, he is looking after.|
|6 (12)||"Necessary Rhino"||Guy Andrews||Geoffrey Sax||23 March 2014|
|Dunstable's even more irascible brother Lord Hannibal Didcot (John Sessions) is terrorising Clarence to return the money he paid for a dubious painting. Connie decides to get Hannibal married to her new American friend, artist Vanessa Polk (Daisy Beaumont). Freddie and Gally (Julian Rhind-Tutt) scheme to prevent the marriage and make some 'Necessary Rhino' (cash).|
|7 (13)||"Custody of the Pumpkin"||Guy Andrews||Mandie Fletcher||30 March 2014|
|To get rid of Freddie, Connie plans to marry him off to Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe's (Robert Bathurst) unusual niece, Felicity (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but Freddie has fallen for Angus McAllister's (Ron Donachie) niece, Niagara (Rose Leslie) to her uncle's displeasure. Clarence wants to win the Fat Pumpkin prize as if he loses he will also lose the Empress so he has to defy Connie and scupper the marriage, appease McAllister, and vanquish Parsloe. Beech discovers the answer to Clarence and Connie's problems in a magazine, "Society Spice".|
Reviews for the first episode were mixed, with Ben Lawrence of The Daily Telegraph awarding it two stars out of five and writing "Wodehouse has a perspicacity and wisdom that prevent him from being mere froth. And that was the problem with Blandings (BBC One), a six-part adaptation of the Blandings Castle stories. There was no authorial voice, wry, gently mocking, poised with a sinuous metaphor or sprightly adjective. Instead we were on our own with Lord Emsworth (Timothy Spall), his baleful sister Connie (Jennifer Saunders), vapid son Freddie (Jack Farthing) and beloved pig, the Empress, as they went about their lives in a crumbling English stately home... You can’t invest psychological complexity into Wodehouse’s characters, the clarity and depth comes from the writing, and so the cast were all at sea. The performances weren’t bad exactly, but there was an impression that the cast had raided the charity shop and were merely having a spiffing time in vintage clothing... Of course the benefit to Guy Andrews’s script was that the lovely dialogue remained intact, and no line felt cumbersome or inappropriately modern."
Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail was more enthusiastic, writing "having watched the first episode last night, I am impressed. The Beeb could have a hit on its hands. The show manages to get across the genial eccentricity of Wodehouse without overdoing the poshness, and some of the acting — particularly Mark Williams as tipsy butler Beach, a wonderful contrast to Downton’s Carson — is a delight. The plot bowls along, but there is enough time for an affectionate picture of country life to develop. And one of the prime contributors to that quirkiness is our plump friend Mr Spall. So maybe the casting director was right, after all."
Tributes were paid to Empress, the Middle White sow used in the show, when she died from what vets believe was a "massive heart attack" just before the final episode was broadcast. Timothy Spall said he was "very upset" at the news.
- "Blandings". BBC Online. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "Blandings". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- BBC media centre http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/blandings-series2.html Retrieved 24 October 2013
- Crom castle http://cromcastle.com/second-series-of-blandings-was-filmed-at-the-castle-in-november-2013/ retrieved 31 January 2014
- BBC media centre http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/blandings-series-2.html Retrieved 24 October 2013
- BBC media centre http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/blandings/synopses.html Retrieved 19 January 2013
- Lawrence, Ben (13 January 2013). "Blandings: episode one, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Letts, Quentin (13 January 2013). "A 36-stone porker to rival the genius of Jeeves". Mail Online. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- TV stars pay tribute to Blandings pig actor The Empress after she dies