We here at the Brooklyn Gal are counting the hours till tonight’s conclusion of the latest MASTERPIECE CLASSIC trilogy, South Riding, an adaption of Winifred Holtby’s moving love story. And, we might add, we’re a tad annoyed that this gripping romantic saga, set in Depression-era Yorkshire, should be limited to three short episodes. Still, we’ll take what we can get and indeed there’s much to revel in given that South Riding has all of the ingredients that make us go weak in the knees.
For starters, it’s set between the Great Wars, a time period we find ourselves drawn to again and again. What’s more, the characters are flawed, compelling and riveting to watch. Our favorites (of course): Sarah Burton played by Anna Maxwell Martin, the fiery red-headed headmistress who shakes things up in her new post as the headmistress who returns from London to her old stomping grounds. She champions her girls’ right to learn and, shocker, choose to have a career, aside from being wives and mothers. And Robert Carne, who plays David Morrissey, the ruggedly handsome gentleman farmer with a whole lot of baggage, including an insane wife, locked away in an institution. Just last week we learned that she was pushed further over the edge after the birth of her daughter.
Just as transfixing, of course, are the head-turning costumes, created by Stephanie Collie. Sarah Burton’s cornflower blue shirtdress, pink-and-blue knit jumper and skirt, nervy boater-style red suit and captivating cape — much saucier than Little Red Riding Hood’s, we might add — all artfully convey this plucky woman’s spirit and sense of self. Not exactly beautiful, she nonetheless cuts a dazzling figure. And she’s rarely seen without a shock of bright scarlet lipstick.
If we could, we would watch a whole season’s worth of South Riding. But alas, MASTERPIECE created a mini series. Apparently all good things must come to an end.