Gerard Gilbert@GerardVGilbert
Sunday 18 September 2011 05:26

Come nine o'clock this Sunday evening, the questions will be stacking up like Jumbos waiting to land at Heathrow Airport. Will Andrew Davies bring the same sense and sensibility to his adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Sun BBC1) as he showed to Middlemarch? Is Colin Firth too soft and fluffy to make a successful Mr Darcy? And will the logistics involved in producing a BBC costume drama drown out that small but crystal clear voice that is Jane Austen's?

Now for some answers. As far as TV adaptations of literary classics go (which is usually about 50 per cent), this is probably as good as it gets. The casting in particular deserves a tilt at a Bafta, Firth not being in the slightest bit soft and fluffy - and Jennifer Ehle showing the right brand of spirited intelligence as Elizabeth. Benjamin Withrow is shaping up to be a real scene-stealer with his Mr Bennet, but my jury is still out on Alison Steadman's Mrs Bennet as part panto-dame.

Ol Parker has something of Jane Austen's cool, merciless eye - and his excellent "Ecstasy drama", Loved Up (Sat BBC2), could perhaps be retitled Rave and Responsibility. Lena Headey plays Sarah, who works down the caff and who looks after her younger, school-age sister because their divorced mother is a drunk. She meets and falls for Tom (played by Ian Hart - John Lennon in Backbeat), who is "sorted" - meaning he works in an undemanding job by day, pops Ecstasy by night, and generally eschews all ties and responsibilities.

Parker's film has already taken some heat from the tabloids for its neutral, amoral stance on drugs, which is a bit like saying Jane Austen took a neutral, amoral stance on land ownership. Overall, Loved Up seems a pretty moral piece to me.

If you are too busy catching up on your work this weekend to watch any telly, then you're probably in need of Working All Hours (Sat BBC2), which looks at how the rationalised, down-sized workplaces of the 1990s (ie, fewer employees doing more work for greater shareholder dividends) are driving their inmates to nervous breakdown.

The moral of the first programme in the series is that bottom-line economics are not necessarily the best way to get results - and we visit Rover and a Danish cleaning company for constructive alternatives. Just hope your boss is watching too.

The next time your living room is on fire, you might be glad you sat through Equinox (Sun C4), which this week looks at the latest thinking on fire-fighting. The Swedes, it seems, no longer call smoke "smoke", but "combustible fumes". Smoke, you see, can and does ignite - hence the reality of "flashovers" and "backdrafts" which haunt a fireman's lot.

We can safely leave Tom Sharpe to Melvyn Bragg and The South Bank Show. A more entertaining writer in my book is Carl Hiaasen, whose Florida-based thrillers have become increasingly popular over here. Carl Hiaasen's Miami (Sun C4) is his attempt to persuade us not to visit his backyard, a backyard voted by Conde Nast as the "rudest city in America". Americans stopped coming to Miami years ago, leaving foolhardy Europeans to have their hire- cars hijacked and shot up. "The trouble with tourists," observes Hiaasen, "is that they look like tourists." Can't argue with that.

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