Two Waugh Favorites on BBC

–Laura Freeman writing in The Times has provided more information on the upcoming BBC adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s novel Pursuit of Love. After describing two previous Mitford-based TV series (by Simon Raven in 1980 on ITV and Deborah Moggach in 2001 on BBC),  Freeman continues:

Nancy’s working title for the book was “Linda” and really it is Linda’s story. Nancy wrote what would become The Pursuit of Love (her friend Evelyn Waugh suggested the title) in a storm of inspiration in the early months of 1945. […] The Pursuit of Love is all edge and gleam. Nancy couldn’t remember if she started writing before reading Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited or after. In any case, she wrote to Waugh: “It’s about my family, a very different cup of tea, not grand and far madder.”

She was in love when she wrote it. When Linda meets Fabrice, Duc de Sauveterre after two failed marriages, both ending in bolts, she is “filled with a strange, wild, unfamiliar happiness, and knew that this was love. […] The model for Fabrice was Gaston Palewski. Nancy called him “the Colonel” or “Col” after his rank in the army. He had served in the French air force and was directeur de cabinet of General Charles de Gaulle’s government in exile in London. They met in the garden of the Allies’ Club in London. The Colonel was enchanted by Nancy’s stories about her eccentric family. “Racontez, racontez,” he would say. Tell, tell. Fabrice says the same to Linda.

The historian Lisa Hilton, the author of The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London, has described the Colonel as having a face like “an unpeeled King Edward”. Fabrice is “short, stocky, very dark”. In the new series, Fabrice is played by the definitely too dishy French-Moroccan actor Assaad Bouab (Hicham Janowski in Call My Agent!).

Nancy worried that she could never better the book’s two leading males. To Waugh she wrote: “Also you see what nobody else seems to that having used up Farve & Fabrice I am utterly done for — all the rations have gone into one cake. Now what?”

Nancy managed to eke out two more books from this material: Love in a Cold Climate (1949) and Don’t Tell Alfred (1960). The latest script is based on the first novel in this trilogy. The screenplay is by Emily Mortimer who also appears as The Bolter. The three-episode series begins on BBC One, Sunday, 9 May 2021. It will be available in the USA and Canada on Amazon Prime at dates to be announced.

–Waugh Society member Milena Borden has sent a link to a three-episode “celebration” of P G Wodehouse, one of Evelyn Waugh’s favorite writers. This is on BBC Radio 4 Extra and is presented by comedian Alexander Armstrong. It was first broadcast in January 2020. Here’s a link to the first episode (“In the Offing”) which is currently available and contains information on the two upcoming episodes: 2. “Carry On”, We 5 May 11am, and 3. “Much Obliged”, We 12 May 11am. All episodes are available worldwide on BBC iPlayer after broadcast.


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