If you’re reading this, then doubtless you’re a fan of Downton Abbey. I mean you ARE reading a page on a website called “Anglotopia: The Website for People Who Love Britain,” and, frankly, who ISN’T a fan of Downton Abbey (yes, I initially typed “Downtown.”) I have friends of both sexes, from every walk of life who can’t get enough of those artistocrats and the fascinating people who keep their boots shiny and their wine sediment-free.
I bring up this beloved soap opera of Enlish aristocracy because that’s what Love in a Cold Climate reminded me of. This three-disc set from Acorn Media carries the viewer on an enjoyable ride through the lives of an aristocratic English family before and during World War II. Shown in 1980 on Masterpiece Theatre, this series is based on two novels published in the 1940s by Nancy Mitford – The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. The story is narrated by a cousin, Fanny, and focuses mainly on the love lives of the oldest daughter, Linda, and her calculating friend Polly.
I enjoyed follwing the ins and outs of the romances, but what tickled me most were the side characters. The most notable actor involved is Judi Dench as the family’s flighty matriarch. She was fine in this small role, but I couldn’t get enough of some of the other minor characters… Like the father who would disapproved of everything and would call a person he didn’t like, “that sewer,” or Uncle Davey, who was a hypochondriac, and always trying different “cures.” My favorite: a scheduled day to get drunk, in order to shock his system. I loved the family friend, Lord Merlin, who could always be counted on to liven things up. And I adored the heir, Cedric – a scheming, flamboyant player. It was hard to tell whose side he was on, but he sure made it fun!
Unlike Downton Abbey, there is no glimpse into the lives of the servants, but the family is entertainment enough. And while the production values can not hope to match those of today’s offerings, you are likely to get so involved with the exploits of the characters that you won’t notice.