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Last Night's TV.

Byline: Jade Wright

Northanger Abbey (ITV1, Sunday)

CRAMMING a novel as rich and complex as Northanger Abbey into a two-hour ITV1 slot was never going to be an easy task.

But then Andrew Davies is the king of adaptations, the man who launched Colin Firth's career and many a woman's dreams when he successfully sexed up Pride And Prejudice.

When our Col strode out of the lake in that clingy wet shirt, you could almost hear women across the land whisper a collective goodbye to waiting for their Prince Charming. They wanted a Mr Darcy.

Last year Davies worked his magic again - this time on Charles Dickens' much-neglected treasure Bleak House, breaking it into half-hour chunks and introducing young people to weighty Victorian literature in a way that the classroom never could.

With this particular gothic romance he certainly had his work cut out: Northanger Abbey has probably aged the least well of all of Austen's major novels. Of course it would be hard to say it wasn't a great work -had it any other author's name on its spine, we would hold it up as a major work of brilliance. But, when held up against the sparkling wit of Emma Woodhouse or the passion of Elizabeth Bennett, its heroine Catherine Moorland is left in the shade.

Nevertheless last night's adaptation showed a good-natured and frank Catherine - Archers' star Felicity Jones managed to combine humility and humour with perfect aplomb.

Davies cleverly brought with him Carey Mulligan, whom he worked with on Bleak House and Pride And Prejudice, who shone as Catherine's mischievous friend Isabella.

I can't wait for next week's take on Persuasion - if only to see the gorgeous Rupert Penry-Jones in britches. I can feel another Mr Darcy moment coming on...

Harry Hill's TV Burp (ITV1, Saturday)

I KNOW it's unusual for a TV reviewer to write about a TV review show, but I can't resist giving Harry Hill's TV Burp a guick mention. Hill's comedy vehicle has really found its feet on Saturday nights after bouncing around the ITV1 schedule for years.

Over the last few weeks, it has attracted its best-ever figures - more than 30% of the audience share, making it Britain's top-rated non-soap.

If you haven't been treated to its cheerily disrespectful roundup of the week's television, tune in next week for a treat.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2007
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