A host of classic dramas are being made available as complete boxsets on BBC iPlayer, giving fans a chance to re-live the first series of House of Cards, the corporation’s acclaimed adaption of Michael Dobbs’ novel, 2004’s North and South and the 1958 sci-fi series Quatermass and the Pit.
Also available will be the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, regarded by many fans as the definitive on-screen version of Jane Austen’s novel.
The programmes will be available in the iPlayer’s ‘From the Archive’ section which launched last September and hosts over 400 programmes from the BBC’s vaults.
Piers Wenger, controller of drama commissioning for the BBC, said: “What a wonderful treat for us to able bring all these programmes back to BBC iPlayer.
“As well as reliving iconic moments like Mr Darcy’s lake scene and Francis Urquhart’s political scheming and manipulations, we’ve also reached deep into the BBC’s archive to bring audiences treasures like the brilliant sci-fi classic Quatermass and the Pit and an early breakout performance from Judi Dench in Talking to a Stranger.”
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Jane Austen’s classic story of social mores is brought to life by an all-star cast in this 1995 adaptation by writer Andrew Davies. The arrival of the wealthy Mr Darcy causes great excitement within the Bennet family. One of her five daughters, Mrs Bennet feels, is sure to capture the heart of the wealthy young aristocrat, a fate that befalls the spirited Elizabeth.
House of Cards (1990)
Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Michael Dobbs’ best-selling satirical novel about the corrupt and cynical world of British party politics. When charming Chief Whip Francis Urquhart is passed over for promotion by a new party leader, he hatches a dastardly plot to wreak revenge on each and every one of his colleagues.
North and South (2004)
Four-part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s feisty and passionate story, set across the social divide in the changing world of Victorian industrial society. 19-year-old Margaret Hale and her parents are forced to leave their idyllic life in the south when Mr Hale resigns from the clergy and the family move to the northern town of Milton. Mr Hale takes work as a private tutor while Margaret and her mother struggle to adapt to their new lives in the north.
When she befriends local millworkers, Margaret’s consciousness is rapidly awakened to the divisions and inequalities in society. A fiery meeting with charismatic millowner John Thornton only serves to reinforce her prejudices against him – he personifies the cruel injustice of the industrial system. Thornton however, begins to develop a rather more favourable opinion of spirited Margaret.
Talking to a Stranger (1966)
Over four parts, the events of one tragic weekend are told from the point of view of each member of the Stephens, an ordinary suburban family. Judi Dench and Maurice Denham star. First shown in the Theatre 625 series on BBC Two in 1966.
Quatermass and the Pit (1958)
A team of scientists find a mysterious capsule and have no idea of its origin or purpose. Professor Quatermass is resisting the planners of a rocket project known as the Dead Man’s Deterrent. Meanwhile excavation is going on at Hobbs Lane, long the site of reported imps and devils.
The War Game (1985)
Peter Watkins’ Academy Award-winning drama-documentary about an imagined 1965 nuclear attack on Kent. Vividly detailing the public and private consequences of nuclear hostility, the film refutes any idea that Britain might survive such an attack and offers a strong critique of the philosophy of nuclear deterrence. Although originally made for the BBC in 1965, the film deemed too shocking for TV audiences of the time and was banned from broadcast for 20 years, finally being first aired in 1985.
Mrs Patterson (1956)
A play about race and adolescence set in the Deep South of America about 1920, written by African-American painter-playwright Charles Sebree and Greer Johnson.
Teddy Hicks is a poor, illegitimate, black 15-year-old who spends her time daydreaming about living a life of luxury like her mother’s wealthy and well-travelled white employer, ‘Mrs Patterson’.
Eartha Kitt stars as a teenage girl in a Kentucky shanty-town, who dreams of escaping from her boredom at home to the garish, alluring city of Chicago.
Nuts in May (1975)
A television film devised and directed by Mike Leigh. A tale of camping holidays and all the hazards involved. Their Morris packed to the gills, the punctilious Keith and the more spontaneous Candice-Marie arrive at a Dorset campground where they pay 10 pounds in advance for ten nights.
It’s peaceful – they visit Corfe Castle, eat vegetarian food and go in search of raw milk. Then a fellow with a loud radio pitches his tent near theirs. Keith is beside himself and it doesn’t help when Candice-Marie decides to befriend the young man. Things get worse when a couple arrive on a motorcycle, make noisy love in their tent and then start an illegal campfire.
It’s too much for Keith and he loses it. Will our middle-class couple find a bucolic corner or are they doomed to brawl with the noisy and unwashed?