Mapp and Lucia, TV review: It lacks the charm of Downton Abbey even if everyone looks spiffing

This chocolate boxy affair tries ever so hard to be funny but just falls flat

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The Independent Culture

It’s all about quaint little English villages in Mapp and Lucia tonight. Viewers are taken back to the refined 1930s for a whimsical tale about one-upmanship and matriarchal rivalry. 

Despite the beautiful cinematography and sharp costumes, this adaptation of EF Benson’s novel is frankly a bit dull. It tries desperately hard to be funny and may elicit the smallest of chuckles but that’s about it.

It’s as if someone thought that by throwing a load of thespians together and filming them in picturesque locations dressed in spiffing outfits, that somehow they could capture the magic of Downton Abbey.

But Downton this is not. Forget about the Dowager Countess, there are no witty and cutting putdowns here. It’s all a bit tedious and trying.

 

Acting heavy weights Miranda Richardson and Anna Chancellor lead this all-star cast production. While they try their hardest the script just doesn’t serve them well.

Richardson is a little too toothy with too much stiff upper lip as the controlling busybody Elizabeth Mapp. But it’s not her fault because nothing particularly comic happens. Or rather the things that are supposed to be funny fall flat and feel forced.

Chancellor plays the equally catty Lucia of the title. She’s made a career out of playing nettling, unlikeable characters for the best part of two decades and is well within her comfort zone but nothing more.

They are both fabulous individually but this is a tale about two women trying to out-do the other and yet there is no real sense of enmity between them.

Perhaps Mapp and Lucia is merely warming up and the hostility and hilarity will ensue in the second instalment. 

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