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  • If this is a "poor adaptation" then by all means I will have to get my hands on the original books because I really loved this production! It's an absolute hoot of a good time! I find it hard to believe it is over twenty years old! It's seems like it could have been made just yesterday.The character studies are pretty much timeless. London Weekend certainly didn't skimp on the sets or costumes and the acting was all around superb. It was a little difficult at first to adjust to Mapp and Lucia's exaaaaaggerated voices but by episode two I was laughing so hard...I no longer cared. As a comedy it succeeds on all levels but it's also somewhat intriguing as a period study as well. It recreates a time in post WWI England when people could be leisurely enough to care about the superficial things of everyday village life and when class was so important it actually dictated how people related to each other. Before the fall I guess you could say. Similar to east coast America before WWII or the over the top Regan years and eons before 9/11.

    The cast includes the many favorites that others have already listed but I have to reiterate the brilliance of Nigel Hawthorne as Georgino mio and the endearing pair of Mary MacLeod and Cecily Hobbs as Godiva and Quaint Irene...in fact all the minor characters were brilliant and so believable I felt like they were family. I am truly sorry the series didn't go on to include all the books. All I can say is it must have been a lot of fun to act in this series and if you enjoy light hearted English comedy...you will really want to take a look at these episodes on DVD.
  • This was first shown on Channel 4 here in the UK in about 1985, I don't know if it was ever repeated. I missed it then and it wasn't until I read the books several years later that I started to look out for it. I recently got the entire series on video (would have been better on DVD) and it is a hoot.

    The main characters were just as I pictured then and the casting was spot on. Geraldine McEwen (not yet a Dame alas, apropos a previous comment) and Nigel Hawthorne (who is indeed Sir Nigel) shine as Lucia and Georgie but perhaps they had easier characters to portray and it is Prunella Scales as Mapp who give the best and most difficult characterisation, though all the parts are really caricatures. Everyone must have had such fun making this and Lucia's costumes are something to behold.

    The exteriors are mostly Rye in Sussex, where the author E.F. Benson lived (and was the Mayor). Lucia he probably based on himself, which begs the question who was Georgie in real life?!. You can go to the house he lived in which was clearly Mallards in the books and is now National Trust property. Henry James lived there before him. However, it wasn't used as the exterior here.

    Some characters from the books are dropped in the series, the Padre's wife and the Wyses's daughter, but you don't miss them. Traces of McEewen's power mad and devious Lucia can be seen in her portrayal of the mad religous mother in 'Oranges are not the Only Fruit' (1990).

    Sip tea and cakes with friends on a wet Sunday afternoon as you watch this - it'll cheer you up no end.
  • People seem to be trying to analyse this series to death, at the end of the day it is simply a wonderful comedy of manners, wonderfully acted and beautifully presented. The principles are all actors of great experience and charisma, working with almost infallible material. If you want slapstick or alternative humour, this is not the place for you! If you love watching a comedy where it is the actors who make the script brilliantly funny, rather than simply being given punchlines to deliver, then you should be in seventh heaven. Watch, relax, enjoy.
  • E.F. Benson could never have figured that his "Mapp & Lucia" novels would have been so deliciously brought to life by Channel Four, in the television series by the same name.

    For those who are especially aware of the stock 1920-30's characters (with a Mayfair edge, particularly), "Mapp & Lucia" is a treat. From the soignee social arbiter, the tweedy local matron, the all-too-effeminate best friend (petit-point tatting in hand), the ironing-board thin outre artist (a nod to Radcliffe Hall) to the supporting cast of local dwellers, "Mapp & Lucia" revels in its atmospheric production.

    When given the talents of Prunella Scales, Dame Geraldine McEwan and Sir Nigel Hawthorne, who play the title characters respectively (the latter, Georgino mio), it is little wonder that the shows transport one to the mignon village of Tilling, circa 1930. And the staging is so tongue-in-cheek, that certainly the Royal National would not have been ashamed to produce it. All in all, a curio of social manners set with more aplomb than "You rang, m'lord?" (1991) and more asperity than "Jeeves and Wooster" (1989) of the same ilk.
  • Geraldine was indeed born to play Lucia.In the fullness of time she will be recalled as the redoubtable Lucas and viewers will forget she was ever involved in that embarrassing "Marple" series. M&L is an acquired taste,Benson's stuff grows on you.Performances by the principal actors are seemingly timeless and very rewatchable. Nigel Hawthorne must have had such fun bringing Georgie to life and how about the Major? After the owl and the pussycat went to sea we really got the best episode of the series.The return of Mapp was an incredibly hilarious highpoint. Despite the continuing tit for tat village nonsense,Lucia plans and executes the "taking of Tilling"-like a slender Bodicea.

    I love Rye,it was pleasure renting the erstwhile domestic quarters attached to the old Customs House
  • What a delightful portrayal of Mr. Brenson's works! One wishes that his entire series of books had been included; it would have been a plethora of riches indeed! Having recently had the great pleasure visiting Rye, It is now possible to immerse myself all the more completely into these tales! (Beautiful country, by the way!)
  • This is the video set I'd want if stranded on a desert island. Along with the books, of course!

    Every few years I treat myself to Mapp and Lucia I and II, and each time I find it riveting. I'm having a go at it again now upon the 20th anniversary of its making. Dame Geraldine was born to play Lucia! She is so affected, so sly--but so admirable! Clearly in charge, her war with Mapp has us wondering who will win the current battle but we are never in doubt about who has the upper hand in the war.

    I could watch it for the costumes and settings alone. Dame Geraldine has that beautiful model thin figure that shows off the fabulous ensembles so well. I can't imagine what the costume budget was for this series but she changes clothes in each scene so it must have been generous. Even Reg Cartright's wonderful illustration that is shown at the credits is bright and visually interesting. Truly, the art direciton of this production is superb!

    But visuals aside, this comedy of manners is hysterically funny. I am glued to the tube each time I watch it.

    I was a card carrying member of the Tilling Society for a while, an association that actively worships "Fred" (E.F. Benson, author of the Lucia novels) and that has a large annual gathering in Rye, England which is the real life setting of the fictional Tilling.

    Lucia and her small society engenders this kind of cult following. Watch the series, read the books. If you like wry English humor and "village genre" literature, you'll love this set!
  • The Best Thing Ever.

    This is really a wonderful series about the battles and escapades of the 1930s British upper middle class. Follow the humorous escapades of Miss Elizabeth Mapp and Mrs. Emmeline ("Lucia") Lucas as they strive to become the social queen of Tilling's society. Based on the original stories by E.F. Benson, Mapp & Lucia will not leave you disappointed. If you haven't seen Mapp & Lucia yet, you will never know what you are missing.

    A wonderful show for anybody wanting a good laugh, required viewing for any British drama fan.

    10 stars.
  • chuffnobbler9 July 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    The camp, outrageous, over-the-top stories of two women whose hatred of each other is so all-consuming that their friends and neighbours become spectators and pawns in a never-ending game of jealousy and oneupmanship. Absolute bliss, with guaranteed huge laughs throughout.

    Plummy-voiced, with marching, over-confident body language, Prunella Scales is a hoot as Miss Mapp, determined to protect her role as Queen of the village. Her rival, regal and sly Lucia, constantly pulls the rug from beneath her feet; Geraldine McEwan, with her swooping voice and glorious wardrobe, gives such an arch performance that she can almost be forgiven her association with Miss Marple. Almost.

    Denis Lill steals every scene as the drunken, lascivious Major. Constantly in a rage, stashing whisky out of sight of the servants and shouting his orders in Hindustani, he gives a brilliant performance. Nigel Hawthorne, as Lucia's partner-in-crime Georgie, brings a wonderfully camp and fey quality, completing his embroidery and ensuring his toupee is on straight. The atmosphere of fun is helped by dialogue such as "I have always said fingerbowls are entitled to doilies". Glorious.

    This is one of those series in which every character brings their own quality of fun: the twitchy Mr Wyse; the Padre whose accent changes dependent on where he has been holidaying; Quaint Irene whose love for Lucia borders on the sexual; Diva's frustration with Mapp bubbling over into peevish sniping; Mrs Wyse ensuring that everyone knows she has an MBE ("the servants leave it lying around, you know"); the level-headed and professional servants, struggling to deal with the whims of their employers ...

    Almost cartoonish in its portrayal of ridiculous and childish schemes, this has many comparisons with Fry and Laurie's Jeeves & Wooster series. Whether washed out to sea using a table as a boat, arranging a séance for a pet budgie or feigning illness in order to avoid being found out as a non-Italian speaker, Mapp & Lucia's boastful schemes are sharp, witty and wonderfully played. Such a treat.
  • I never read these books, but I caught the broadcast on PBS here in the States, with my mother.

    My mother fostered in me, a love of the dry British wit. Mapp and Lucia was required viewing, as far as she was concerned, and I must admit, that the beauty (and ugliness) of this series has long since stuck with me.

    I found the characters to be endearing, well developed, and hysterically funny. We laughed until there were tears literally streaming down our faces. This was an excellent BBS series which is wholly enjoyable by all with an open mind.

    If you have any appreciation of dry and/or dark humor, this series definitely rates a good watching.

    This delightful series rates a 7.8/10 on the "TV" scale, from...

    the Fiend :.
  • This series is priceless. I was very, very sorry to learn that there were only ten episodes.

    I have never seen a series on television that makes me laugh out loud like this one. Those actors must have had a great time working together. Everyone did an amazing job. Lucia has the most wonderful mannerisms, as does Georgie.

    Nigel Hawthorne? It took me a long time to believe that he was the same actor who starred in "Yes Minister". An actor who can do such a brilliant job in portraying those two opposite characters deserves my undying respect and admiration. Well done!

    This series ranks right up there with the "House of Cards" trilogy as one that my wife and I will want to watch over and over through the years.
  • The 1980s was a Golden Age of TV costume drama, with 'Brideshead Revisited' and 'The Jewel in the Crown' watched by millions and passing into legend. The fetishistic fidelity of these works (well over 10 hours long, with seemingly every word of the source novels) betrayed an ideological function - the invocation of a past which, even if traumatic and disruptive, was coherent, linked to tradition (national, literary, class etc.), where Oxbridge and the Empire are central even as they are in decline (e.g. 'Jewel' was all about the fall of the Raj, rather than the foundation of the new Indian state). It is a celebration of a certain traditional conservatism, while present-tense conservatism (Thatcherism) was actively dismantling those traditions. The notion of fidelity to text created a hierarchy - the novel and the author are sacred and must be translated as exactly as possible - that seems hostile to change, multiple interpretations, different voices.

    Parallel to this ransacking of high(ish) culture, however, were classic adaptations of what might be called 'light' literature, e.g. 'The Irish R.M.' Whereas fidelity to the source in the above-mentioned cases led to dramatic inertia, these other programmes have dated much better - because there is no fear of misinterpreting a 'great' or 'serious' author, there is a greater freedom with the source, a willingness to restructure it if necessary to provide narrative coherence and - wonders - entertainment. As a result, 'light' literature produces genuinely classic television, one that isn't content to simply replicate the past, but has pertinent things to say about the present.

    Take the largely under-rated 'Mapp and Lucia', for instance. Not only does its heroine, like Thatcher, have red hair, often speak in an affectedly deep voice, and, under the guise of respecting conservative hierarchies, radically shake up a deeply conservative English social structure, eventually becoming mayor; but the plots touch on pertinent issues such as elections, charity and government subsidies, and the notion of what it means to be English, and what constitutes tradition.

    Further, unlike 'Brideshead' or 'Jewel', it foregrounds its status as a costume/period/heritage drama, not just making a mockery of the genre's traditional pleasures - dialogue, costumes etc. - but in containing within itself its own costume/period/heritage reconstructions (the Queen Bess pageant; the historical tableaux) that are both inherently ridiculous and call into question the functions of such recreations, especially in the 1980s. Further, it uses the elitist assumptions of the genre - that is is literary, more cultured and civilised, more mannerly than violent action movies, say - to relate a series of stories where class, art and manners are used as weopons for truly vicious, shocking ends.

    'Mapp and Lucia' never pretends to be a faithful historical reconstruction. It exults in its own artifice, the mannered affectation of the characters matched in the art deco stylising, the artificial decor and the crazy outfits. The effect is of a musical comedy, so exquisitely stylised that it sometimes achieves the pitch of Wilde in 'The Importance of Being Earnest', where the choreography of the characters and their gestures, the artifice of the surroundings, the composition of the image and the delivery of the dialogue create a kind of visual rhythm as music. This is especially apparent in the second series, where greater attention is paid to composition and the effects achievable by music (e.g. the cow-like accompaniment to Mapp's bovine tread).

    The characters are never caricatures - they are real people playing caricatures in a bizarrely surreal vision of what constitutes a conservative English village. Prunella Scales brings a measure of pathos to the gleefully horrid Mapp; Nigel Hawthorne's Georgie is a masterpiece of physical expression, high-pitched voice and demented outfits. But it is Geraldine McEwan's Lucia that is the regal centre of the show, scheming, ridiculous, cruel, egotistical, childish, yet sublimely serene, whose odd wardrobe only underlines her queenliness (in both senses).

    The final episode ('Au Reservoir') is deeply harrowing, where everything seems about to fall apart - proving daring stylisation (including a magnificent opera sequence, while Lucia is beautiful in Ming the Merciless oriental black) reaps richer dividends than the staidly literary. The opening credits - with its diaroma painting and strangely melancholy English waltz - will haunt you forever.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What is most agreeable about Mapp & Lucia is the principals' refusal to age and settle down like elderly simpletons. They're still so full of life! Spoiler alert:

    Just seeing and hearing the boisterous piano duets of "Giorgino" and Lucia quickly has your Chuckle-O-Meter pop-popping. That happy pair dresses with such flair as only English society ever learned to do properly. What wondrous costuming! Watch for the Rolls Lucia casually rides in. It's a stunning antique!

    Whereas Prunella Scales, their nemesis Mapp, has the opposite end of the spectrum, and is nevertheless a scream herself. Other members of this devilish cast amuse with consummate skill as well, most of them not intending to amuse us. Nigel Hawthorne never had a funnier role. This is comedy without malice or guile; as Brits do best.

    I wouldn't part with my DVD album, or a brace of VHS classics: "Mapp and Lucia." Go find them at a B/Noble near you! Until then;

    Au Reservoir!
  • I am very fond of these sorts of programmes, and despite having little knowledge of the books, I was more than happy to watch Mapp and Lucia. And I have to say, it is an absolutely delightful series and I always feel warm and cosy inside watching it.

    The production values and attention to detail is simply wonderful. I love the beautiful scenery and costumes and the photography is suitably cosy. The music has such a pleasant lilt to it too, while the writing is always amusing and the plot lines are well paced and written with heart.

    The direction is very fine, and the acting is very good. Prunella Scales is a real jewel in Mapp and Lucia with superb comic timing. Gerealdine McEwan is every bit her equal, and the two women display a strong chemistry that makes their dialogue especially enjoyable. There's also Nigel Hawthorne on board, and while he's been better he is a joy too. What I also like about Mapp and Lucia is that the characters are not caricatures, they are well-developed, warm and easy to relate to.

    All in all, a delightful series. 10/10 Bethany Cox
  • I can add little to the favourable reviews here but there are currently two or three reviews which are somewhat critical of this TV series. Their main criticism is that the series does not cover the entire books or all of the characters. However one must understand that TV budgets are seldom able to stretch to the complete written words found in a book.

    This series does have all the essentials of E.F.Benson's wonderful work. Yes there has been some essential deviations but this series does capture the essence of the books extremely well. Also I think anyone who has read the books first forms their own ideas of the characters and are naturally disappointed if the ones in the TV series are different whereas if you watch the series first then the characters are defined for you if you subsequently read the books. Therefore if you have not yet read the books then I would recommend that you watch this excellent TV series first.

    I think E.F.Benson would approve.
  • Not having read any of the original books I come to this series tabula rasa, and cannot complain that this or that aspect was mistreated in the production. The three principal actors are accomplished performers in the right roles. Sadly the otherwise wonderful Nigel Hawthorne is thoroughly miscast. He tries so very hard; the poor man acts his socks off and one cringes. It shouldn't look that difficult. Prunella Scales also makes Herculean efforts as Mapp, the fixed smile being notably amateurish. Miss McEwan can just about get away with it as Lucia from time to time. But the group of 'star' actors as a whole has been horribly misdirected into creating characters so artificial they crumble almost immediately. Too annoying to recommend.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I hesitated giving this attempt at the Mapp and Lucia stories by E. F. Benson any rating higher than a 5. The series is seriously haphazard in presenting segments of the 6 novellas that make up the original books. Books are rarely recreated very well to the screen, and the better the book the worse the adaptation. One exception to that was the magnificent Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle made in 1985, the same year as this Mapp and Lucia effort.

    This project had all the earmarks of a great adaptation; a fine cast, good writers, high production values and a director, Donald McWhinnie, who loves and understands the characters.

    But the producers chickened out and did not film the entire Benson series of books. Riseholme hardly appears and Lucia never gets to London. Few of the many characters in the books appear in this series. The two sets of dvds all take place in Tilling after Lucia's appearance as Good Queen Bess in her last outing as doyenne of the stage in Riseholme. And I get the feeling that the only reason that pantomime is included is Geraldine McEwen, who makes a fine, comic Queen Elizabeth I, and Nigel Hawthorn, whose effeminate Sir Francis Drake was too good to NOT film. Sadly Daisy Quantock is presented as a non-entity in her brief appearance and the actress is totally wrong for the part. Lucia's husband, Peppino (Philip) Lucas has already died as he does in between the original Books two and three. Lady Ambermere and the other eccentric denizons of Riseholme, Piggy, Goosie, Mrs Antrobus et al, are not to be found here. No Indian cook or fake medium either.

    These two superb comedians carry this show on their perfect backs. I can't imagine a better cast Georgie than Nigel Hawthorne and it's a great shame he couldn't have portrayed this character in a complete version of the stories. McEwen is equally successful with Lucia, capturing the subtly outrageous character of this preposterous snob.

    Prunella Scales has the personality for Miss Mapp but not the physical presence of that formidable female in the books. The best of the smaller roles is that of Irene Coles played by the boyish and impudent Cecily Hobbs. She, Scales,Denis Lill (Major Benjy) and Marion Mathie (Susan Wyse) make a strong secondary comedy troupe, though Lill is far too young and sexy for Major Benjy.

    Sadly, Wee Wifie, married to the padre, is completely dropped from the story leaving the character of the padre as little more than a cypher for gear-changes in the storyline. Mary MacLeod is miscast as Diva Plaistow. She is a large woman who towers over Scales' Mapp when just the opposite would have been more accurate and funny. The result is Mapp becomes far too sympathetic a character because she is so petite. Much of the character of the story is lost because of this. Scales is very funny, however, and is totally inside Mapp's head, it just doesn't work somehow. There is a great guest appearance in the last episode by the great Irene Handl who plays Duchess Poppy. She is hilarious and helps this series end on a high note. Olga Bracely is a very minor role in this show and played by the excellent actress Anna Quayle, though she is miscast as the Wagnerian opera diva.

    I have owned the videos of the two seasons for years and watch them off and on, usually in the dead of winter when something frothy is called for. I always enjoy McEwen, Hawthorne, Mathie, Hobbs, Lill and Handl but always wish that more trouble had been taken by the producers to do the whole thing right. This might have been a classic of British television, as it is it is one of those sad might-have-beens.

    This could have been so good with McEwen and Hawthorne leading the cast, and with a better Mapp and Plaistow.

    But I give it a 7 for being better than nothing.
  • Very, very poor adaptation of the original books. This production ,merges some of the stories together and omits strategic characters (where is dear Mouse-like Evie?). Makes little use of the town of Rye (Benson's 'Tilling') and places Lucia Lucus in a pink pebble-dashed house! - the whole thing about Lucia moving to Tilling was her desire to have the best Georgian House in England! The characterisations are mere shadows of those in the books and some are completely off the mark - would urbane Mr Wise sit drinking in a pub with Major Benjy? I don't think so! Read the books and enjoy them - give this production a wide berth!