Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders number among the cast of a new BBC One production of PG Wodehouse's Blandings stories.
PG Wodehouse is hailed as one of the greatest comic writers in the English language, and indeed his appeal extends far beyond the Anglophone world. Once upon a time, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie acquitted themselves very well in a BBC TV series based on Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories.
Now Blandings gets the telly treatment, in which Timothy Spall will play the amiable and befuddled Lord Emsworth (Clarence to his friends). Jennifer Saunders plays his indomitable sister Connie. The six half hour episodes are written by Guy Andrews (Lost In Austen, Absolute Power).
Clarence Emsworth, ninth earl and master of Blandings Castle just wants to be left in peace, in the company of his beloved pig, The Empress. But people are always distracting him, asking him for all manner of favours. Then there's the baleful figure of his sister Connie, Clarence's younger son Freddie and various servants, spongers, private detectives, bookies and confidence tricksters.
Only Beach, the earl's extremely tolerant butler, provides consolation, but Clarence too occasionally remedies all manner of mishap through an inspired or accidental intervention.
“Blandings Castle is dysfunction junction, the home of a chaotic family struggling to keep itself in order," explains writer Guy Andrews. "For any writer, it is the rarest privilege imaginable to have Wodehouse legitimately available as source material. Instead of just stealing from him as we usually do."
Wodehouse wrote the first Blandings story in 1915. Fourteen dedicated novels and five collections of short stories later, he died in 1978, leaving Sunset At Blandings unfinished.
The series is set 1929, and will be filmed on location in Northern Ireland with the support of Northern Ireland Screen.
Timothy Spall's recent credits include Wormtail in the Harry Potter films and he played Winston Churchill in the The King's Speech. Jennifer Saunders was one of the stars of Absolutely Fabulous, and her work with Dawn French brought her global attention.