Man of Bastille

Revolutionary France meets comic book heroes in new costume drama The Scarlet Pimpernel. With RICHARD E GRANT in the title role, how can it fail to be top of the fops? .'.:;-::s: Fiona Shepherd

lloys tedious another exquisitely -realised. heautil'ully-l‘ilmed. \yell-aeted and potentially addieti\e period eostume drama from the Beeh. .UIMI they taekle the genre so expertly'.’ Bel‘ore Christmas. we maryelled at the hare-laeed maehinations ol' .seheming anti-heroine Beeky Sharp in \imirr l'iu'r: now we haye the l-‘reneh Reyolution-set intrigue and adyenture of The Sear/('1 l’im/u'rm'l to keep the adrenalin pumping for the rest ol the \\ inter.

Riehard li (irant stars as Baroness ()re/y's literary ereation. an exuherant predeeessor ol' the 20m eentury eartoon hook superhero. Like Superman. Spiderman and llong Kong l’hooey. here is a man who leads a douhle lil‘e. In lingland. he is Sir l’erey Blakeney. a l‘oppish nohleman renowned for his \yordplay. ln reyolutionary l‘ranee. he‘s the sexy er'usading sa\‘iour ol the eondenined aristoeraey. renoyyned for his s\\'ol'tlpltl_\. Plus. he neyer gets stuek in a tiling eahinet.

(irant. \\ ho elearly dines out on deliyering lines like ‘a erayat is the apotheosis ol‘ all neekyyeai” (kno\\ \\ hat you’re say ing. mate). seems perleet tor the role. “hat with heing something ol a posh. \\itty sex symhol himsell‘. Ilo\\e\et‘. he maintains. ’l‘d ney er thought ol' playing this part and l'\ e eertainly ney'er done anything like it hel‘ore.

'But it's great l‘un heing a dashing hero. I really play too parts tor the priee ol‘ one. \Ve'y e done some \yonderl'ul aetion stull and some mar\e|lousl_\ elegant

Richard E Grant

'It's great fun being a dashing hero. We've done some wonderful action stuff.’

Foiled again: Richard E Grant in The Scarlet Pimpernel

soeiety seenes as \\ ell. l lo\ e haying a eharaeter with too eompletely dill‘erent sides to him. I loye the nay the audienee knoyy that this man has an ama/ing douhle lite and the people in the story don’t.’

This at l‘irst ineludes Sir l’erey‘s l’reneh \y‘il‘e Marguerite. played hy liIi/aheth .\le(}o\'ern. the :\meriean aetress prohahly hest knoyyn for playing the object ol. Rohert l)e \it'o's desire in ()II(‘(' (i/mII {l 'li'lm' In .'llll('l'l('(l.

‘I like the eomplexity ol the relationship hetyseen l’erey and his wife and I think theirs is a Very interesting portrait of marriage] say \le(io\'ern. ‘\\'hen he's a lop she wonders why she still loyes him. so when she tliseoy‘et‘s that he is the Searlet l’impernel it’s like the rehirth ol their marriage.’

liilmed as three sell-eontained feature-length adyentures. 'l'ln' Sear/('1 l’im/u'rm'l’s syx'ash-lmekling aetion storylines might attraet \‘ieyxers who normally \‘ieyy' period dramas as jtist a huge \Vttt'tlt‘ohe hudget and eltisters ol \s'omen hitehing hehind their fans.

('ertainly this adaptation has its fair share ol

perinigged perlidy it is a produetion imoly‘ing no less than 3()() hats hut its l‘oundation in one of the most exeiting periods ol‘ world history automatieally giy es it a dynamie and eredihle haekdrop for all the audaeious getayyays. eareless pillow talk. mineing around on horsehaek and saying the \yot‘kshy aristos l'rom .\ladame (iuillotine hy smuggling them aeross the ('hannel.

Seeking the l’impernel here. there and eyery \\ here is Martin Shayy ’s eharaeter ('hauyelin. \Vhile l‘ilming in Prague. \yhieh douhles for late lStli eentury Paris in the series. Shim \yas pursued hy youngsters ehanting 'lititllL‘-l)t)}lc‘. Birdie-Doyle. ill I‘L‘liL‘l'L‘llCL‘ In his htihhle-permed role in '/‘/n' I’m/essiunu/s.

(irant. meannhile. is linding one of his reeent roles hard to surpass in the eyes ol' his nearest and tleitl'c‘sl.

‘.\ly daughter \xon't he as impressed \yith 'I‘lu' Slur/('1 l’iiil/n'l'm'l as she \\ as hy 'l'he Spiee (iirls lilm.’ he antieipates.

But you. dear \ ieys er. \\ ill he.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, BBC1, Sun 24 Jan, 8pm.

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