Pride and Prejudice at the BBC
Jane Austen’s works have been popular on BBC TV and radio for nearly 100 years.
The first radio adaptation came in 1924, when the proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice was included as part of a literary variety show on ‘2L0’, the BBC’s first radio station, heard only in the London area.
In 1938, Pride and Prejudice was adapted for TV by BBC Television Service. A lavish production on a tight budget, it was filmed in the cramped studios at Alexandra Palace and broadcast live to the nation. Red-hot studio lights and cameras that regularly failed on-air only added to the excitement.
Sadly, as recording television was not possible, no Austen adaptations made before 1971 survive.
BBC adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels were normally filmed in a studio, with exterior shots on location, until the 1990s, when viewers started to demand much better cinema-like standards in high definition.
In 1995, the BBC’s most successful adaptation of Pride and Prejudice hit the nation’s TV screens. Adapted by Andrew Davies and starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, the six-part miniseries caused ‘Austen fever’ to sweep the nation, and changed the way many viewers see the characters forever.
Film: Pride and Prejudice at the BBC: highlights of TV-adaptations
With thanks to the BBC for their collaboration on this project