In 2012 Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the character of Christopher Tietjens in the five-part BBC period drama series Parade’s End, an adaptation for tv of the tetralogy of novels by Ford Madox Ford. The screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard, and the series was directed by Susanna White.
Set before and during World War I, the adaptation focuses on the love triangle of Anglican Christopher Tietjens, second son of the lord of the manor of Groby, Yorkshire, who is a disconsolate, Tory statistician in London, and his wife Sylvia Satterthwaite, a Catholic – which doesn’t stop her from being promiscuous, self-centered and downright evil at times. The socialite woman only married him – after a heated sex session during a train ride – to hide the fact that the child she was carrying at the time might be someone else’s – or Christopher’s. To complete it all, there’s Valentine Wannop, young and tolerant in thinking, she’s not only a suffragette, but also the daughter of a lady novelist. Valentine – in the course of the story – is very torn between her idealism and her attraction to “Chrissy”. Read More »
BBC One’s The Child in Time got some harsh criticism, mostly for the production, while the acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly MacDonald was generally praised.
As in the book, the storyline focuses on Stephen and Julie, as they try to cope with the loss of their daughter Kate, a second thread focusing on Stephen’s friend Charles Darke (nomen est omen!), his sudden retreat to the countryside and subsequent regress into childhood. We also learn about Stephen’s parents and their past, the „pub scene“ having a central importance for the plot, as turns out in the progress of the story.
The book has more plot with elaborate descriptions of characters and situations, making the storyline somewhat less elusive, no way to put all of that into a 90 minutes timeframe for tv though. Some viewers thus got quite irritated watching the tv film. They sensed plotholes and got confused by the non-chronological storyline, the flashbacks and flash forwards. In my opinion though, the makers of The Child in Time were adamant to get the message across not only by what is said, but also by what you see:Read More »