Letter: The Mill and the flaws

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It is extraordinary that David Aaronovitch should praise the BBC for commissioning Carnival Films' "almost flawless" version of The Mill on the Floss (Real Life, 5 January). Clearly he knows nothing of the 650 pages so boorishly cut down to a two-hour drama, but he might have sensed the superficiality in, for instance, the complete omission of the wry comic touches so typical of Eliot. Did he miss Middlemarch?

Had the novel been dramatised by the pre-Birt BBC, it would have been serialised for the five or six hours needed to explore the subtlety of Eliot's characterisation, their relationships and their interaction with repressive Victorian society. Instead, we were given edited highlights that missed or distorted most of the book's memorable moments, eg Stephen's horrifying Maggie by kissing her arm becomes an anachronistic lingering smooch on the neck. Worse, one of the finest studies of childhood in 19th-century fiction is dismissed in half an hour's sketching so that Carnival philistines can concentrate on the last third of the story: a love affair Eliot herself conceded was undeveloped.

George Appleby

Chichester

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