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Middlemarch


The Daily Telegraph, 15th July 1968, Sylvia Clayton


No woman writer has ever peopled a whole countryside with living characters as vividly as George Eliot did in ‘Middlemarch’. By the end of her long, spacious novel they are as familiar as neighbours.


The seven-part television version by Michael Voysey, which began on BBC2 on Saturday, can offer only a lightning tour of this Victorian provincial landscape, flitting at speed from one family to another.


One figure emerged with singular clarity from the first episode the young heroine Dorothea Brooke, whose warm idealism animates the book. Michele Dotrice, her eyes alight with hopeful intelligence, projected most sensitively Dorothea’s innocence and vulnerable pride.


Dorothea’s idealism blinds her to the failings of the dried-up elderly scholar Mr Casaubon, Philip Latham, a personable actor familiar from ‘The Troubleshooters’ was here completely miscast for he does not suggest a repellent presence or academic ambition.


Michael Pennington, an eternal student whom television must soon allow to graduate, made a brief attractive appearance as Mr Casaubon’s young cousin. Derek Francis, more at home as a decisive villain in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, played the irresolute dilettante Mr Brooke with quirky humour and Fabia Drake patronised the lower orders as the Rector’s wife.


Joan Craft, a director with fine sense of period, and David Conroy were responsible for the production.




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