Brideshead Actress Dies in France

Actress Stéphane Audran who played Cara in the 1981 Granada TV production of Brideshead Revisited has died in France at the age of 85. She was married at one time to new wave film director Claude Chabrol and at another, to actor Jean-Louis Trintignant and was probably best known for her lead role in the film Babette’s Feast (1989). She also played in several notable films such as Luis Buñuel’s Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) as well as other English language TV series such as Poor Little Rich Girl (1987) and The Sun Also Rises (1984). Her obituary appears in today’s Guardian.

In other news, Alexander Waugh will be speaking next month on the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. His will be one of a series of lectures and panels during “Shakespeare Week” (23-26 April) at Brunel University in Uxbridge, West London. Alexander will appear in the program on Tuesday, 24 April and will discuss the topic described as follows:

By deciphering early edition encryptions, tracing hidden geometries and decoding grid patterns, Alexander Waugh says he can prove Shakespeare was not only a myth, he was actually Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and he’s currently buried in Westminster Abbey. If true, the spirited scholar (who happens to be the grandson of novelist Evelyn Waugh) has lifted the lid on one of the most enduring mysteries of our time. Fantastical claim or revolutionary revelation? Decide for yourself as Alexander shares his evidence.

Finally, in an article in Spear’s magazine about the business of running English Country Houses (or, more to the point, about running English Country Houses as businesses), Waugh is cited near the conclusion:

Evelyn Waugh always said that the English country house – and its ideal – was our country’s greatest contribution to Western civilisation. Marketing ‘full service’ country or coastal properties to HNWs [high-net-worth individuals]– who regard £5,000 a week as a bargain compared to a week in Mustique or the Maldives – is a good idea. Not least because families now want ‘multi-generational’ holidays (bring the grandparents) with some educational, cultural and sporting appeal.

And in the latest issue of Vogue magazine there is an article in its “Wedding” section describing the details of putting together a successful “transatlantic relationship”–i.e., U.S.-U.K. marriage. This is written by Claire Straw who grew up in West Texas (Midland to be precise) but has been married happily for several years to an Englishman. She offers this by way of a descripton of what to expect from the introduction of a young American lady to an Englishman of her own age:

…Englishmen can get away with lots of seemingly feminine but amazingly fun things, like making a soufflé, talking at length about Evelyn Waugh, confessing a love for Winnie-the-Pooh and dressing like Bubble from Absolutely Fabulous for a party. No Texan boy had ever made me laugh with the witticisms, self-assuredness and unabashed romanticism of my new-found English man.

UPDATE (31 March 2018): The following entry appeared in the column of Jennifer Selway, Assistant Editor of the Daily Express:

Let’s revisit Brideshead

The great French film actress Stephane Audran died this week.

British viewers will remember her in her role as Cara, the mistress of Lord Marchmain (Laurence Olivier) in Granada TV’s 1981 production of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

Right now I can’t think of anything nicer than the entire box-set and an uninterrupted Easter weekend – especially if the weather is as foul as we’ve been promised.

UPDATE 2 (11 April 2018): Derek Granger, producer of Granada’s Brideshead TV series, added his own recollections of working with Stéphane Audran in a letter to the Guardian:

…No actress could have confounded more absolutely Charles Ryder’s lurid expectation of “a voluptuous Toulouse-Lautrec odalisque”, or fitted more perfectly Waugh’s own conception: a “middle-aged, well-preserved, well-dressed, well-mannered woman”, the “neat prosaic figure” who briskly marshalled her two undergraduate charges, Ryder and Sebastian Flyte, as she guided them on their tour of the splendours of Venice.

Audran was an actress of great subtlety. In a later scene in Marchmain Palazzo (filmed in the Palazzo Barbaro), in which she gently confronted Charles with the truth about his relationship with Sebastian, her delicate expressiveness provided a masterclass in intimate scene playing.

Away from the set, Audran was an engaging colleague who offered a sometimes surprising twist to the workaday travails of a long location shoot. “Derek, who do you think I met today walking across the Yorkshire dales?” There was a second’s pause: “Derek, it was my skiing instructor.” What followed was a charmingly persuasive request for Granada to add another supernumerary to the hotel budget. The word which most readily conveyed her quality is appropriately a French one: insouciance.

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