Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Magical Mayhem

At last BBC One  gives us a wonderfully macabre and darkly  comic drama for Sunday nights.  Not a scantily clad Cornishman in sight, just the bewigged  and wonderfully inhabited cast of a veritable who's Who of British Character actors. In the first few minutes my mind was brought to the Tim Burton version of "Sleepy Hollow "and the dramatisation of "Gormenghast ", a similar kind of story from  the very popular series by Mervyn Peake a few years ago. With a cast of fabulous grotesques, I foresee this being a crowd Favourite.

The Learned Society of York Magicians of England are impotent and a young magical crusader seeks to know why  Magic no longer exists in England. This brings him into the Sphere of Mr Norrell a collector of magical texts and a self purported Practical adherent of Magics. Played by the ever adaptable and in my opinion highly underrated Eddie Marsden, whose taciturn portrayal is pitch perfect. He is moody and slightly socially awkward and at once powerful and vulnerable. Wanting to use his gifts to aid his Nation in the War against France, but rebuffed by the government due to bad press from the baying public, he decides to retire from public view... Curtailed in this plan by a crafty glory hunter, he makes a terrible choice...

Juxtaposed is the dissolute feckless and directionless Jonathan Strange, desperate to marry the Clergymen's sister, but unable because his cruel Father  refuses to give him a step  up in the world. He can find no gainful employment. Through a chance encounter he a becomes the second of the two magicians who are prophetically  said to be they who who will bring Magic back to England and to enable the return of The Raven King an as yet murky figure that seems to be pulling all the strings!

The use of York Minster as a backdrop for the magical demonstration that starts this plot unfurling  is an inspired move and made the bringing to life of all the statuary of the Minster very atmospheric and heaps of fun! Marc Warren practically cackles with glee in his role as The Gentleman, a sprite like entity who Mr Norrell accidently encounters in the course of a necromancy attempt and the ever creepy Paul Kaye as a vagabond schiester who may actually hold power is wonderfully bizarre and
ominous and a complete loon.

It was a delight from start to finish and I am breathless for more!


  1. Superb write-up Emma! Definitely My Kind Of Show! Have already found a copy and will watch it tonight! Sorcery, England in early 1800's and Marc Warren complete the trifecta!! <3

  2. Do let me know how you enjoy the show!