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Jane Austen's Regency World|88 – July/August 2017

Your Letters- abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Sotto voce hard to watch, eh? It was fascinating to learn how people actually spoke in Jane Austen’s day (JARW No 87). But don’t tell those television producers next time they’re thinking about an adaptation of Mansfield Park or Sanditon.

The trend in TV drama these days seems to be driven by a misplaced obsession with “naturalistic” portrayals. You simply cannot make out what some modern-day actors are saying. Tim Roth in Rillington Place, Shirley Henderson in Happy Valley, and then Sam Riley in SS-GB: they all mumbled.

It drives me crackers, all this mutter, mutter, mutter employed to “get inside the character”. Just contrast that practice with the diction and projection found in such series of 1960s/70s vintage as The Forsyte Saga or Upstairs, Downstairs or The Pallisers. The sets might have been a bit unconvincing and the location sequences unadventurous, but you could hear what the characters were saying.

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