Waugh in Politics; Margot at the DNC

The Guardian carries a story about the current renewed popularity of nostalgia in Britain. This harks back to the fashion started by the TV version of Brideshead Revisited, and the Guardian’s reporter (Stuart Jeffries) finds that nostalgia has a political spin both then and now:

Conservatives have regularly used an apparently gilded past age as an alibi for rubbishing the present. It is the basis of one of our most successful export industries. In 1981, for instance, Jeremy Irons narrated the lyrical introduction to Charles Sturridge’s ITV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited: “Oxford in those days was still a city of aquatint. When the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over the gables and cupolas, she exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth.”

Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel already dripped with nostalgia for a pre-war England and its allied oleaginous underlings (think Sebastian Flyte’s ever-so-’umble barber). Sturridge effectively put that nostalgia to work in Thatcher’s Britain. Just as Waugh’s novel, behind its lament for lost innocence, expressed posh contempt for upstart prole scum, so its TV adaptation was handily broadcast at a time when it could serve the reactionary agenda of a Conservative government that spent the 80s destroying the organised working classes.

The fashion press also announced an unexpected Waugh dimension in US politics. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Eva Longoria, the actress who is to play Margot Beste-Chetwynde in the upcoming BBC TV serial of Decline and Fall, is appearing at this week’s Democratic National Convention where she will wear dresses from a fashion line she is promoting for The Limited. It is not news that Ms Longoria actively supports the Democratic Party, but her decision to use its Convention as a venue for a fashion statement is newsworthy. After the Convention, according to the report, she will fly to Wales to join the filming of the TV series.

Meanwhile, the Government of Wales has made a statement explaining its financial support for the BBC production. In an official Welsh Government press release, Cabinet Secretary for Economy Ken Skates said:

“I am delighted to announce this funding that ensures this eagerly awaited high profile drama series is to be filmed on location in Wales. It is the latest high end TV production to film in Wales and can only enhance our growing reputation as the location of choice.

“It will provide a real boost for the industry offering work and up-skilling opportunities for Welsh crew while creating a wider range of economic benefits for many small businesses working across a range of sectors.”

Wales Screen is working with Tiger Aspect and advising on locations in and around South Wales and assisting them with finding freelance crew and local trainees to work on the production.

The release also explains that it expects expenditures of “around £1.8m in Wales” but does not say how much of that is funded by the government’s grant. 

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