Banff World Television Award for Bleak House
Posted at 1:41 PM (PDT) on Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June 12, 2006

Best Mini-Series: Bleak House
Produced By: BBC, WGBH Boston co-production in association with Deep Indigo
Broadcaster: BBC ONE

With the largest number of entries submitted over the past five years (Some 101 shows from 24 countries were nominated in 18 categories. More than 1,000 programs were entered for consideration.), awards were handed out in a variety of categories -- with 15 different countries taking home the honours. The BANFF International Jury met for several days prior the Festival to screen the 18 “Best-of” category winners and ultimately decided the Grand Prize winner overall.

Jury Chair, Loren Mawhinney said, “All members of the jury felt privileged to be given both this responsibility and this opportunity to screen such wonderful television.” The “Best-of” category winners were chosen by the BANFF Selection Jury and represent countries from around the world, including Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

And here's an interesting little interview with Andrew Davies:

Daily Variety
June 12, 2006 Monday

Mini in the mix: 'BLEAK HOUSE'
By: Bob Verini

When Brit scribe Andrew Davies sets out to bring a great work of fiction to the screen, he doesn't avoid watching previous versions so as not to be unduly influenced. Instead, he actively seeks them out.

"Of course I do. I want to see what I might do the same way and what I want to do differently," says the vet adapter of close to two dozen classic novels, including Emmy contender "Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House," recent winner of the BAFTA award as drama serial, kudos that Davies shared.

"But the main reason is that because I've usually seen them before, one can run a risk of unconscious plagiarism, as there's an awful possibility that you think you've found a unique way of handling a scene that isn't in fact your own writing. It's like composing your own 'original' tunes, as I like to do, and realizing that they're actually Mozart or the Beatles every time."

The BBC's 1985 "Bleak House" struck him as "a very good adaptation, wonderful performances, but rather slow by today's standards.

"I hoped we could have an edgy and quick style that would feel modern even though it's a period drama." Principal director Justin Chadwick shaped mini's contemporary look by using fluid multiple cameras and shooting rehearsals.

In addition, "the novel's heroine, Esther, had always irritated me. Such a smug little goody-goody. I thought, there are things I can do here; I can make her more sparky and lively for the audience to relate to." By emphasizing her strength and clear-eyed vision of the world, he cracked the character, helping thesp Anna Maxwell Martin to walk off with the actress BAFTA for her portrayal.

Wrestling with an enormous, complicated 19th century novel is in many ways simpler than adapting a contempo piece, avers Davies, but both offer similar challenges.

On "Bridget Jones' Diary," he says, "we had such arguments! Helen Fielding kept saying 'it's about modern life, and the urban family,' and I'm saying no, no, it has to be about Bridget's search for love and which guy she'll end up with. So it's the same kind of struggle. You always have to find the spine of the story."