Old favourites with a mod­ern twist

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - TELEVISION -

The BBC’s adap­ta­tion of A Suit­able Boy is both ground­break­ing and fa­mil­iar; Prodi­gal Son puts flesh on the bones of old cliches; the Mup­pets re­turn to amuse and con­fuse in equal mea­sure

an af­fec­tion­ate de­tente with The Quirky Drunks of Ire­land (also the ti­tle of a cof­fee ta­ble book I’m work­ing on). Luck­ily, con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish dra­mas set in the colonies tend to ac­knowl­edge that colo­nial­ism wasn’t sim­ply about teach­ing peas­ants how to queue. And the Mira Nairdi­rected se­ries is both ground­break­ing as the first BBC drama to fea­ture an al­most ex­clu­sively In­dian – as op­posed to Bri­tishIn­dian – cast and crew, and fa­mil­iar as a tale of a posh fam­ily try­ing to ar­range an ad­van­ta­geous mar­riage against a tu­mul­tuous his­tor­i­cal back­drop. There are med­dling mothers, du­ti­ful daugh­ters, vil­lain­ous daugh­ters-in-law, scan­dalous women, feck­less sons and un­suit­able but hunky suit­ors.

It’s deftly done. Seth wanted Davies for the project and Davies, in fair­ness, never re­sorts to clunky Ju­lian Fel­lowes-like (“Fel­low­pian”) ex­po­si­tion. The speed at which the cre­ators must rat­tle through the vast novel’s plot­lines means char­ac­ter tex­ture is lost but at least no one re­gur­gi­tates Wikipedia en­tries. It would be im­pos­si­ble to fit ev­ery­thing into six episodes if they stopped ev­ery five min­utes to ad­dress gaps in the Bri­tish ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem. (Bri­tish school his­tory, from what I can tell, amounts to “druids made

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