OMG EVERYONE! One of my very favorite BBC historical costume serials of one of my very favorite Victorian novels is on Amazon Prime! It’s 1994’s Middlemarch based on the George Eliot novel! I recently sat down and indulged in a rewatch, and it was just as enjoyable as I remembered.
Set in a small English town specifically between 1829 to 1832, the original book is subtitled “a study of provincial life.” There are two main romantic plots and several minor storylines entwined around them. The first major story is about the idealistic Dorothea Brooke (Juliet Aubrey) who first marries a much older scholarly type, Reverend Casaubon (Patrick Malahide), and then she eventually falls in love with his young cousin Will Ladislaw (Rufus Sewell). The second key story is around Dr. Tertius Lydgate (Douglas Hodge) who comes to Middlemarch with plans of research and reform but marries social-climbing Rosamond Vincy (Trevyn McDowell).
Costume designer Anushia Nieradzik had done plenty of historical TV series before Middlemarch and went on to design costumes for films such as Belle (2013), A United Kingdom (2016), and Journey’s End (2017). For this TV miniseries, the costumes are not always flashy but very slice-of-life, showing everyone from raggedy poor farmers to the posh landed gentry and the folks in between. Reportedly, this was the most expensive series the BBC had made up to that point, equivalent to how much Merchant-Ivory spent making Howards End (1992). Both the costumes and production design reflect money and time spent, as well as a strong commitment to historical accuracy.
Have you seen Middlemarch? Will you be watching (or rewatching) it on Amazon now?