Friday, 29 June 2007

Bits and Bobs From the Beeb

I love searching through the BBC online archives on a quite afternoon, which today has turned up an audio tour of Austen's house in Hampshire, including readings from her letters, and a few Radio 4 interviews with interesting actors who have worked in Austen adaptations.

For eight years, from 1809 until her death in 1817, Austen lived with her mother, her sister Cassandra and their friend Martha Lloyd, in the village of Chawton in Hampshire. The cottage is open to the public as a kind of museum and after acquiring new funding, Austen's letters have become part of the displayed collection. Here is a guided audio tour of the cottage.

I really love the interviews I turned up this round. There is this 2002 gem with Harriet Walter, who besides being a thoroughly interesting, talented and intelligent woman, played Mrs John Dashwood in '95 Sense and Sensibility. Here she talks about playing one of Shakespeare's great women, Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing.

She has featured in two Austen adaptations, '83 Mansfield Park as Maria Bertram and '96 Emma as Mrs Weston. She's a lovely, clever, funny woman and in 2002 Samantha Bond played Lady Macbeth on stage with the super sexy, genuine, talented and, personally my favourite actor, Sean Bean.

Juliet Stevenson is one of a very small handful of truly brilliant actors alive today. As well as being a remarkably talented stage and screen actor, she known for her excellent narration of novels, including all of Austen's works (she was voted as BBC Radio's favourite reader) and radio work. She played Mrs Elton in the '95 Emma film, she's an absolutely fascinating woman and here Juliet Stevenson talks about her absorbing role in Tom Murphy's remarkable play Alice Trilogy.

You can play these radio items with Real Player, simply follow 'Listen to This Item'. If you need to install Real Player, you can download it from their website free of charge.

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