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Friday, September 12

Jane Austen Connection to Mills and Boon Bodice Rippers?

Not being a Brit (sigh) I did not understand the cultural significance of Mills & Boon! What the heck is a Mills & Boon? My American sensibilities imagined it as a cocktail made with Boons Hill Farm wine! Us Yanks are so uncouth, but the Brits may be quickly approaching. The Mills & Boon mystery was clarified by recent news articles announcing a new BBC Four production, Consuming Passion, 100 Years of Mills & Boon, to be aired on UK tellie this autumn. It appears that Mills & Boon are book publishers (duh) and their reputation in Britain and the world for a good bodice ripper is renown (except to this writer who lives in a Austen vacuum). The US equivalent would be Harlequin Romances, which by-the-by, purchased the company in 1971.

Mills & Boon is celebrating their 100th anniversary in business this year, so they must be doing something right! Well, many faithful readers over a century and the BBC seem to think so. The new 90 minute movie focuses on the history of the publishing house with stories of actual women behind the scenes beginning in 1918 to contemporary times. The producers have promised that it will be very raunchy - ahem - one assumes not to disappoint their many faithful readers and the BBC viewers in general since BBC Four’s slogan is “Everybody needs a place to think”. Right. Maybe they should amend that to “Everybody needs a place to _ _ _ _”?

Of note are two Jane Austen connections in the production; director Dan Zeff who brought us the new ITV Lost in Austen mini-series currently airing in the UK under much controversy and discussion, and Emilia Fox, who portrayed the sweet and innocent Georgiana Darcy in the 1995 BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. Oh my, it appears that Georgiana’s innocence many have progressed, along with the tenor of the times!

The BBC Four is renown for producing critically acclaimed costume dramas over the years such as the recent Sense and Sensibility and Cranford which made their way across the pond and onto to PBS’s Masterpiece Classics series. One wonders out loud what direction UK television is taking to attract a wider and younger audience, and if adaptations of classic novels by Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell are now pass√©? The BBC recently confirmed its commitment to period drama, so let's hope that we won't be teased with these imitations and parodies such as Lost in Austen which are quite diverting, but not the real thing.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose


Sherri said...

Just found your Blog and I'm so glad I did! I'm listening to Austenland on BOCD and really enjoying it!

nigel said...

Mills and Boon are fairly popular in Australia and was once a cliche for gender boundaries. But I think Mills and Boon have been overtaken by a larger diversity of literature and cinema adaption.
Harry Potter, Narnia, Tolkien and Golden Compass? Where women make excellent hero's and villians.

Also is it possible that women can now seek out romance in real life rather than waiting for it to happen? If Jane Austen lived today I am sure she would be "out there" seeking adventure and dare I say it? Seducing male of her delight?

I think women are "on top" more than ever to the benefit of both sexes. Rather than the cliche of someone needing rescue?

Anonymous said...

I'm 21-years-old and absolutely ADORE period pieces. If I lived in the UK, I'd probably watch the BBC all the time. (As it is, I watch PBS in the hopes of finding something from the BBC!)