Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sunday Bodice

Julia SawalhaSunday evenings have become bodice and bonnet night in our house.

The Beeb’s recent costume dramas – Cranford and Lark Rise To Candleford – have gently melded into one quietly glorious bosomy soap that appears to be set in some hazy non-specific Victorian period where smallpox, rickets and plaguey prostitution are virtually unheard of.

At least they don’t appear to have touched the lives of the cloth-capped and lace-collared villagers who play out their small, Hardy-esque existences in the wonderfully constructed BBC sets purely for our televisual entertainment... and never for our ill humour.

If the villagers had television sets I guarantee they’d all be tuned into Songs Of Praise.

And yet, for all there is a distinct lack of engorged bodices being pantingly ripped open Andrew Davies style, the writers have still managed to craft dramas that are both engaging and absorbing.

And feature Julia Sawalha.

As I’ve mentioned before, Julia – much favoured British actress of this ‘ere blog – seems to have cornered the market for chaste, wryly laced up dramas where the bodice’s are not so much ripped open as securely fastened for most of the time with the slightly pouty suggestion that they might be loosened a little bit later but only when the cameras are switched off or you’ve switched to another TV channel...

Cue raised eyebrow, a quirky smile and a slight flash of wrist and that’s about as risqué as Julia gets...

And I’m loving it.

In Lark Rise To Candleford the sexuality is repressed and understated. Its mouth has been washed out with lye soap and stuffed into clothes so starchy the collars could support the Severn Bridge without buckling. Looks and smiles are exchanged in substitution for bodily fluids. A blush and a stammer are acts of wanton desire and impropriety. The sex lies in what isn’t being said between the parties.

Not everybody’s cup of tea I grant you but much as I’d like to see Julia jiggling herself out of the enviable confines of her corset I also recognize that I’d be disappointed in her if she did. Does this make me a hypocrite of some kind? Am I impaled on the horn of a dilemma so old, boring and completely trad that feminists themselves no longer acknowledge it with anything more than a slight sigh and flinty eyes rolled skyward?

The old angel / whore dichotomy?

Who knows?

All I know is that Julia looks damned fine in a corset and damned fine out of one.

As dichotomies go, it’s one (two?) I can quite happily live with for a few Sunday’s more.

Lark rise indeed.

13 comments:

Tristan said...

Is there a brunette actress-only editorial policy on this blog? I'm beginning to feel that a name-change to 'brunette-pervo-tropolis' may be in order!

Prudishly yours,

Tris

Steve said...

Tris. I stand suitably chastised.

Forthwith I shall endeavour to perv about blondes, red-heads and blue rinses in all my future posts...

Reluctant Blogger said...

You are indeed becoming a little obsessed of late, Steve!

I haven't watched this one either and Julia does not rock my boat.

But I'm with you on favouring brunettes. I personally would go for Penelope Cruz though! Don't suppose the BBC budget stretches quite that far - or their corsets either, come to that!!!

Glad you are enjoying your Sunday evenings though. Can't think what I watched but there were no engorged bodices of that I am sure! Ski Sunday I think it was!

Steve said...

Hi Gina - Penelope Cruz in a corset?!?! Wow. I feel another blog coming on... ;-)

As for Ski Sunday... just not the same since Eddie the Eagle retired. Hmm. Imagine him in a bodice...

Ah. Perhaps not.

Annie said...

Oh Steve.... Steeeeeve! You know I love the way you write. Lark Rise to Candleford is splendidly written and acted but I see it through such different eyes! I see it as an educational piece of history with lovely humourous, characters. My favourites are the wonderful Liz Smith as Zillah and Dawn French as the feckless Mrs Arless.

Totty? Well, us hetero females are somewhat starved in LRtoC but if I had to choose I'd go for Laura's dad, played by Brendan Cole... just 'cos he's kind and is the voice of the voiceless.
Looking forward to Sunday! Thanks Steve.

Jahooni said...

Brunettes only? Well I guess I won't be back... ;-)

The Sagittarian said...

"Its mouth has been washed out with lye soap and stuffed into clothes so starchy the collars could support the Severn Bridge without buckling." Great stuff, Steve. I think you are probably wasted in your day job - wasted as in should be doing better things not wasted as in shitfaced-shitkickin' drunk wasted. Then again....being a blonde I await perviousness from afar!

The Sagittarian said...

By the way, as for you feeling a blog coming on...appaarently a swift but brutal tap with a pencil should fix that!!

Steve said...

Hi Annie, I can't look at Zillah without thinking she's going to come up with some God-awful recipe like her character in The Vicar Of Dibley... and as for Dawn French... I like her but can't help think she's just being Dawn French as opposed to Mrs Arless. For all that her performance doesn't grate though... the show is so gentle and forgiving.

Jahooni... sanctions are not in place against un-brunette people on this blog. Honestly. Some of my best friends are blondes. ;-)

Thanks Amanda. I feel that I'm wasted too. And in my day job I frequently wish that I was wasted in a "shitfaced-shitkickin' drunk wasted" kind of way. I'm sure it would often make the day more bearable. Tried the pencil thing. I no longer have any lead in my pencil...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

'Tis the mystique that makes the dames of Lark Rise so sexy Steve. A much underrated and forgotten device in most drama.

Mind you, that's a hell of a corset Julia S has on. Her heaving bosom is nearly somewhere atop her shoulders!

Was corsetry really so advanced in those days?

Over to you for your undoubtedly exhaustive academic treatise on the subject Professor Bloggertropolis... :-)

Steve said...

Laura, your intimations are undoubtedly correct - corsetry wasn't nearly as advanced as the show's costume department would have us believe. However, I can overlook their minor inaccuracies as Julia looks enchanting every time she draws breath... and her shoulders have never looked so in focus... and lastly, compared with the clothing foobars of the BBC's Robin Hood, an overstrung corset is absolutely no crime at all!

The Hitch said...

Ai Yah
Its her sister Nadia who got the family norks, imagine those spilling out of a bodice !
*imagines his favourite person in a bodice* mmm

Steve said...

Hitch! Good to see you back. I'm imagining away... and yes... I'm in the "zone". Ooh I feel another blog coming on...

By the way, what's happened to your blog?