Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

August 22, 2006

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:07 pm

A Preview, of Sorts…

Until I can once more provide clips of Megwyn Owen’s work in Jane Eyre, I thought I should share some of her work from soon afterwards, which is similar. My apologies to anyone already familiar with Megwyn Owen’s work, and with ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ but this is totally new to me and, although only tangentially related to Bronte studies, I feel it would be of interest to some of my readers for me to post a little about Meg’s role as Hazel Forrest Bellamy.

Megwyn Owen plays Jane Eyre in a 1972 radio adaptation from the BBC, and turns in such a marvellous performance (the finest in the role, in my honest opinion). In 1973-74 she played Hazel in the BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs, which is something like a historical docudrama set in the Edwardian period showing the ‘upstairs’ life of the English aristocracy and the ‘downstairs’ life of the servants who live with them. In the picture above, she is sitting in the centre with her husband to her right and her father-in-law to her left.

Without spoiling too much, she begins as the typist of the master of the family, then marries his son. Like Jane, Hazel is very principled, and unconventional- despite claims to the contrary. She rightly sees herself as ‘an ordinary person with ordinary feelings’ but her unwillingness to adopt the practices of her new class bring down the anger of her husband and her father-in-law:

In this clip, her father-in-law (Richard Bellamy) and former employer reproaches her for ‘meddling in a man’s affairs.’ I still am not able to post clips from Jane Eyre for comparison but there is a slight similarity to how she plays Jane and Hazel. Hazel is bolder, however. And in this clip, her husband (James Bellamy) reproaches her for cooking ‘like a scullery maid’ instead of running the house from ‘upstairs.’ That last clip contains a definate spoiler at the very end, so you might want to stop it just after she says ‘If you can’t understand that…’

Clips and images courtesy of http://www.updown.org.uk

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