Last night I happened upon an episode of Jeeves and Wooster on the TV channel called Yesterday. In fact it was the first episode of the first series, originally shown on ITV in 1990 - and heavens, Stephen Fry (Jeeves) and Hugh Laurie (Wooster) look young! These TV films didn't go down too well with Wodehouse purists, but they look the business - high production values, great design - and the scripts really capture the spirit of Wodehouse, not least by retaining many of the author's choicest turns of phrase. What's more, Fry and Laurie - consummate comic performers (in those days) - are both perfectly cast, a better Jeeves-Wooster pairing even than Dennis Price and Ian Carmichael (both too old, though otherwise brilliant). And what's even more, Hugh Laurie gives some great musical performances - in the episode I caught last night, he (and a reluctant Fry) treat us to Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher. Elsewhere in the series, Laurie also sings Leslie Sarony's splendid Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors - your earworm for the day?
Incidentally, isn't it wonderful that such great (and lavishly budgeted) drama should have emerged from somewhere other than the BBC? Peter Kosminsky, in his stirring speech at the Baftas the other night, would have us believe that without the BBC the broadcasting landscape would be a creative desert, with no programmes made that weren't intended purely to 'line the pockets of shareholders'. Just imagine - no Mad Men, no Sopranos, no The Wire, no Brideshead Revisited, no Jewel in the Crown, no Twin Peaks, no Breaking Bad, no Simpsons, no Father Ted... Oh, just a minute - none of those was made by the BBC.