I knew absolutely nothing of this classic before the BBC mini-series began, and in all honesty I only watched it for Hayley Atwell and Matthew MacFayden. They are two of my favourite actors, and they have played some of my favourite characters including Peggy Carter and Mr Darcy obvs. So I was pretty sold on the idea from the off ngl.
But it is the most wonderful story, with such complex and visionary characters, and I think I cried at every single episode, without much reason to except it was just a fantastic story told by wonderful actors.
If you haven’t already watched it, I suggest you do. The story follows the Schlegel siblings whose parents died years ago, so the oldest sister Meg raised her younger two siblings. They are middle class, eccentric, and feminists in their own ways, and provide a stark contrast to the proper, old-fashioned views of the Wilcoxes, especially Mr Wilcox. Now spoiler alert if you have not yet read the book or seen the programme, but I think the plot was ruined slightly by using a still from the final episode to promote the show. Meg wears a white blouse and long skirt while walking in Howards End garden, exactly what Ruth Wilcox wears in the first episode, foreshadowing that Meg will replace Ruth at Howards End. Yes, I guess it’s no huge shock that Meg and Henry will end up together, but still, did it need to be that obvious initially?
The plot then follows the Schelgel’s involvement with the Bast couple, which constantly takes very unexpected turns. It is the epitome of a good deed gone wrong, and ends rather bittersweetly. However, the sisters relationship is one of the most captivating parts of the series, especially in the first episode when Mr Bast is present. The characters just have a wonderful excitability and the actors on screen chemistry is just dreamy. Philippa Coulthard is absolutely breathtaking as Helen alongside Hayley Atwell, I’m sure she’ll have plenty more fantastic roles ahead.
Which is why I love watching BBC series, you see actors you’d perhaps never watched before and they’re amazing, then you can closely follow their work. I watched the BBC’s series of Charles Dicken’s Little Dorrit, which is still one of my favourite series ever. Another example of Matthew MacFayden incredible acting, and Claire Foy, who is now known everywhere for The Crown. What a dream.
Also I realised about half way through the series where I recognised the actor who plays Leonard Bast from! Joseph Quinn was in Mosquitos over the summer at the National which I went to watch in September. He is a phenomenal actor.
I am however not sure how I feel about the fact Matthew MacFayden is now playing the Dad roles in programmes now, like he was only just Mr Darcy right? Well… 12 years ago. Crazy. He is of course fantastic in this, and manages to nail every single aspect of the complicated unlovable but lovable quality to Henry, that Meg loves.
All in all, it’s a gem. Watch it, you’ll probably cry, but it’s 100% worth the time and tears.