Several of the papers have previewed the second episode of Decline and Fall which will be transmitted this evening on BBC One at 9pm. The most detailed advance description of this episode appears in the “Viewing Guide” column by Ed Potton in The Times:
…This week [Jack] Whitehall mostly gets to splutter awkwardly in front of Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives, who plays Margot Beste-Chetwynde (pronounced, of course, “Beast Cheating”), the wealthy widowed mother of one of his pupils. Longoria gives the role plenty of narcissistic pizzazz, although she is eclipsed by Anatole Taubman as her pretentious German architect boyfriend, who says things such as: “I love her body as much as I love concrete.” Waugh famously used the novel, his first, to give vent to his many grudges — among those getting a good satirical pasting this week are politicians, journalists, teachers (a profession for which being sent down from university for indecent behaviour is deemed the classic preparation), Germans and architects. It’s a hilariously cruel world; witness everyone’s indifference to the woes of Tangent, the boy who was shot by a master with a starting pistol in the first episode and this week must endure an even more painful ordeal. OK, it isn’t a patch on the book — how could it be? — but it’s still a splendid way to pass an hour.
More briefly, Radio Times offers this summary analysis:
…Though this (very faithful) adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s comedy of manners at times feels a bit flat and lifeless, a good cast keeps things bumping along. Eva Longoria is winning as the seemingly flighty yet ruthlessly steely Margot Beste-Chetwynde, while Jack Whitehall fits nicely into the role of hapless protagonist Paul Pennyfeather.
Radio Times also weighs in with profiles of most of the cast, explaining their parts as well as their experience. And as an added treat tonight, the broadcast of the episode will be followed by interviews of two of the cast members on the Graham Norton Show. This will involve Jack Whitehall who plays Paul Pennyfeather and Gemma Whelan who plays Dingy Fagan. This is also on BBC One and will be transmitted at 1030pm. Both Episode 2 and the interviews will be available on the internet via BBCiPlayer shortly after transmission.