Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

February 27, 2006


Filed under: BBC,Films,Jane Eyre,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Media,Productions,TV — by bronteana @ 9:47 am

Cast for BBC Jane Eyre 2006 Hot off of the wire, we have our cast! EXCLUSIVE: BIG ROLE IN EYRE FOR FRAN By Nicola Methven FRANCESCA Annis is getting over her split from partner Ralph Fiennes with a major new TV role. The 62-year-old has landed a starring part in the BBC's production of Jane Eyre. She will play Lady Ingram in the £4million adaptation of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel. Other stars include Toby Stephens, who plays Mr Rochester, Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs Reed and Pam Ferris playing Grace Poole. A BBC insider said: "We hope to bring the novel alive for a whole new generation." Francesca and Fiennes, 43, split this month over his two-year affair with 31-year-old Romanian Cornelia Crisan. My goodness! Helen Graham is Mrs. Reed and Gilbert Markham is Mr Rochester?!! (Both starred in the BBC's 1996 production of Tenant of Wildfell Hall, set for DVD release this April). ETA: Image above is Toby Stephens and Tara Fitzgerald as Gilbert Markham and Helen Graham. The article shockingly neglects Ruth Wilson, who will be playing Jane Eyre (remember her?). Luckily she has her own Brontëana post here. ETA: Speaking of Brontëana posts, here is the original post about the DVD release. There's good news. I forgot the date (have I mentioned that I'm terrible with numbers?). The release is not in April… it's in March! In fact, it's March 13th!


  1. Oooh… interesting – Toby Stephens played Orsino in a recent version of Twelfth Night, and I’ve always felt that Orsino and Mr R had a lot in common. There’s also a rather nice gratuitous bathing scene in Shakespeare, I must see if I can dredge up my old copy!

    Otherwise… Pam Ferris, Francesca Annis, £4 million…it’s starting to sound very promising!

    Comment by Liz — February 27, 2006 @ 11:42 am |Reply

  2. I for one am taken completely by surprise. I’ve never seen work from any of these actors, but I’ve heard great things about their work in Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

    On the other hand, I shared this with some of my fellow Brontë enthusiasts and the response was just short of the furor over the Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie WH rumour!

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 11:57 am |Reply

  3. oh no!! No Richard Armitage then 😦

    Comment by mysticgypsy — February 27, 2006 @ 1:23 pm |Reply

  4. No, our favourites have all lost out. I have no idea what led them to cast him. It is a strange choice by all accounts. I do hope that, if all goes well, people will want to see Tenant as well and then perhaps more people will read Anne’s novels…

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 1:29 pm |Reply

  5. I was looking through filmographies, and I noticed that Pam Ferris was also in Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

    Comment by griffin_c84 — February 27, 2006 @ 3:44 pm |Reply

  6. to griffin_c84:

    You’re right there. It does seem a little suspicious that three actors are from Tenant.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 4:59 pm |Reply

  7. Well – it’s worth stressing that this *is* the Mirror which is not always the most reputable journalistic source and could just be going on hearsay to bulk up a story.

    I suspect that we’re looking at the same casting director or a lazy casting director. However you look at it this is really lazy, poor casting IMHO (you can justify someone who represents a shade of a character in a 2 hour adaptation IMHO but Toby Stephens imparticular is well wide of the mark). Colour me really not very impressed at all.

    Pam Ferris, for America viewers, was the evil schoolteacher in Matilda and Harry’s aunt in Prisoner of Azkaban. A very recognisable face on British TV right now.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 27, 2006 @ 5:27 pm |Reply

  8. It is also strange that no mention was made of the writer, producer, director, or Ruth Wilson!

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 6:07 pm |Reply

  9. *sigh of relief*

    so there is hope after all… 🙂

    Comment by mysticgypsy — February 27, 2006 @ 6:28 pm |Reply

  10. It doesn’t seem likely to me that this is only a rumor- as the WH news might be. They never said that was for certain, but that it was a rumor.

    There’s one way to find out… I met someone today who lives in the area where the BBC are set to film and she’s going to keep her eye out 😉

    It might not be so bad… He’s RSC, and that’s almost always a good thing.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 6:44 pm |Reply

  11. He used to date Jennifer Ehle too 😉

    But the BBC Press Office has to post any word of it – until it appears there it’s just speculation IMHO.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 27, 2006 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  12. oh he dated Jennifer? How old is this man???

    Comment by mysticgypsy — February 27, 2006 @ 7:42 pm |Reply

  13. He’s relatively young, he’s relatively pretty and his hair is light! What is the DEAL?

    Comment by rinabeana — February 27, 2006 @ 7:45 pm |Reply

  14. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 27, 2006 @ 7:46 pm |Reply

  15. This post has been removed by the author.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 27, 2006 @ 7:48 pm |Reply

  16. Aidan, this is pushing it into the Twilight Zone 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 7:48 pm |Reply

  17. IIRC 37. They met whilst making The Camomile Lawn. 🙂

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 27, 2006 @ 7:49 pm |Reply

  18. Mysticgypsy, he is actually 37 (only one year younger than Rochester). These pictures are from 1996, of course… But Ruth Wilson is 24 so there will only be 15 years between them instead of 20. Might work.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 7:51 pm |Reply

  19. Rinabeana,

    I do believe his hair is red. This will please my mother who insists that Mr Rochester is a red head (and years plaid. She has never read the book and there’s nothing I can do).

    Comment by Brontëana — February 27, 2006 @ 7:52 pm |Reply

  20. haahaha a red head Rochester???
    That had never crossed my mind before..

    Comment by mysticgypsy — February 27, 2006 @ 8:12 pm |Reply

  21. Richard Armitage was always too handsome and too, er, Yorkshire for me, so I’m afraid I’m rather glad he wasn’t chosen.

    Toby Stephens is an interesting choice and not completely left-field, IMHO. He’s also rather too handsome but is also quite sallow which gives him an immense air of dissipation. And he could certainly carry off black hair (red-head Rochester? Eek!). He does however have a reputation for playing rather cheesy villains, which makes me worry that this production will go down the gloomy villainous Rochester route rather than the witty garrulous one we know and love. And they may have chosen an elfin-looking girlie straight out of drama school to swoon prettily rather than actually match him wit for wit.

    However, I’m still feeling positive! And I don’t think we should worry that The Mirror doesn’t mention Ruth Wilson – it’s going for the ‘Francesca Annis is amazingly successful and starring with lots of famous people, ya boo sucks Ralphie’ angle. I wonder, actually, if £4 million is a lot for a classic adaptation these days? Bleak House apparently cost £8 million, but has about three times as many characters and sets.

    Comment by Liz — February 28, 2006 @ 5:17 am |Reply

  22. Apologies for another comment, it may have been better suited for e-mail. Anyway, I have been rather obsessively googling Toby Stephens today, and found this interesting article, which mentions how women have found Stephens’ rather histrionic, over-masculinised performance of Hamlet surprisingly attractive:,,1269049,00.html

    I found this bit interesting:

    “What makes women imagine surrendering to Toby Stephens is not just his body, but the way he uses it: the pert nose upturned in contempt, the unkempt hair just long enough to emphasise each derisive flip of his head, that trademark dismissive sweep of the arm, those delicate fingers wriggling like maggots, the blue eyes that – even before he speaks – give his mother a look that would have withered Cleopatra. Then there’s the Stephens stride. I have heard English men complain about the artificiality of his “strutting”. But you can see that aggressive theatrical swagger every day in Italy – and see its effect on women who should know better … Stephens gives us a Hamlet for the Eminem generation, a generation that, male and female, desperately desires images of heroic masculinity, an idealistic and capable manhood enraged by the “nasty sty” of contemporary corruption, a manhood that despises the “cutpurse of the empire and the realm,/That from a shelf the precious diadem stole/And put it in his pocket”.”

    Make of that what you will!

    Comment by Anonymous — February 28, 2006 @ 9:02 am |Reply

  23. Oops, that was me (Liz) again, sorry. I’ll shut up now!

    Comment by Liz — February 28, 2006 @ 9:04 am |Reply

  24. I think £4m is a lot – remember that Bleak House was 9 hours long and had, as you say, treble the sets and a principle cast of about 20-25.

    A 45 minute episode of Doctor Who cost roughly £500,000 to make, from everything I can gather so we’re talking 8 episodes of Doctor Who for the budget of Jane Eyre. This is assuming an accurate figure for spending appearing in The Mirror which, as I already noted, I don’t really trust at all as a source anyway.

    I’m still not convinced anyway of the story’s truth – we’ll know when we see a story appear at the Press Office

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 28, 2006 @ 11:07 am |Reply

  25. That’s the problem I’ve had since the first hint that there was a new Jane Eyre project. It was casually mentioned at the end of a Newsweek article- just ‘a new BBC production of Jane Eyre.’ Whenever I’ve tried to confirm the latest reports I have been brushed off. As a blogger they simply don’t take me seriously, I suppose. I’ve also tried writing to the BBC without success.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 28, 2006 @ 12:19 pm |Reply

  26. Well – you could try asking WGBH Boston if they’re involved with the project: they tend to co-fund the BBC period dramas these days. You might also see if the Bronte society has any information – they’re more likely to be able to push for details. It’s frustrating. 😦

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 28, 2006 @ 12:38 pm |Reply

  27. It is frustrating especially because there should really be no problem in confirming sources in the press. It is usual practice! Yet I’ve waited months for word from the BBC and Newsweek. I have not tried contacting WGBH, though.

    Richard Wilcocks, editor of the Brontë Society Gazette writes the Brontë Parsonage Blog, and he first heard the news from me, so it is unlikely that the B.S. knows more at this point.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 28, 2006 @ 1:18 pm |Reply

  28. This is really strange. I’d have assumed that any film producer/company would contact the Bronte Society first when a film is in the works (or even before its formal conception).

    I wonder what IS going on???

    Comment by mysticgypsy — February 28, 2006 @ 1:32 pm |Reply

  29. It still seems pretty normal to me. They would probably be more concerned with the logistics of the production at this point and worry about promotion later.

    Comment by Brontëana — February 28, 2006 @ 1:45 pm |Reply

  30. We *should* have a producer and director though if a budget has been assigned – after all, if they’re at the casting phase the director ought to be meeting potential cast and sizing them up.


    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 28, 2006 @ 4:44 pm |Reply

  31. To Aidan:

    The writer, director, and producer were announced several months ago:

    Writer: Sandy Welch
    Director: Susannah White
    Producer: Diederick Santer
    Production Designer: Grenville Horner

    That there IS a production is also confirmed by Masterpiece Theater promoting it (in a very limited way) when they started their promotion of Bleak House.)

    Comment by Brontëana — February 28, 2006 @ 5:24 pm |Reply

  32. Welch is interesting – I felt she handled North and South wonderfully but I’m not that fond of the script for Our Mutual Friend which struck me as really clumsy.

    Don’t know the director, but the producer did Cutting It so that bodes well. Odd that there are no links to Tenant so far. I predict Angela Grovesnor as casting director. 😉

    Comment by Aidan Brack — February 28, 2006 @ 9:57 pm |Reply

  33. Fitzgerald and Stephens are with the same casting agency – PFD. Makes sense I guess for the agency to push two actors within the same stable. The others are with other companies however.

    Comment by Aidan Brack — March 1, 2006 @ 1:50 am |Reply

  34. It looks like we’ll be in for a surprise either way. Hope blent with the despair. 😉

    Comment by Brontëana — March 1, 2006 @ 8:57 pm |Reply

  35. Well,i must say,that i`m still very skeptical about the new serial.For me is still the best Edward Fairfax Rochester Timothy Dalton.I still can remenber Stephens shrewd face from the “Cambridge Spies”.I just cant imagen,how he can play a romantical agonized hero?!
    And i also wanted to say,that i love you blog!
    AAA,what do you thinks Rufus Sewell as Rochester? I would love it!!!

    Comment by Anonymous — April 19, 2006 @ 8:39 pm |Reply

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