Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Pride and Prejudice (1995)
BBC/Arts and Entertainment Network, 24/9- 29/10/1995
6 x 60 mins, colour
DirectorSimon Langton
ProducerSue Birtwistle
ScriptAndrew Davies
From the novel byJane Austen
PhotographyJohn Kenway
MusicCarl Davis

Cast: Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet); Colin Firth (Fitzwilliam Darcy); Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr Bingley); Benjamin Whitrow (Mr Bennet); Polly Maberly (Kitty Bennet); Julia Sawalha (Lydia Bennet); Alison Steadman (Mrs Bennet); Lucy Briers (Mary Bennet); Susannah Harker (Jane Bennet); Anna Chancellor (Miss Bingley)

Show full cast and credits

Desperate to marry off her five daughters, Mrs Bennet is delighted when rich Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy arrive in their neighbourhood. Elizabeth Bennet at first finds Mr Darcy too proud and arrogant, but soon discovers that first impressions aren't always to be trusted.

Show full synopsis

This acclaimed serialisation of Jane Austen's novel confirmed Andrew Davies' status as king of the TV adaptation, following his success with the likes of Kingsley Amis's The Old Devils (BBC, 1992) and George Eliot's Middlemarch (BBC, 1994). It was here that Davies perfected what has become his controversial trademark, breathing new life in to classic novels by introducing or exaggerating their sexual content.

Davies' audience-friendly dialogue updates and supplements Austen's original text. He modernises and sexualises the characters to appeal to contemporary audiences, and heightens the drama of the source material. Julia Sawalha's scenes as Lydia are Davies' trump card for accentuating the story's soap-opera elements: her half-dressed accidental ambush of Mr Collins, her outrageous flirting, and her delight in living 'in sin' in London. Davies adds a few sexual fireworks of his own invention, most famously in the scene in which Darcy encounters Elizabeth still dripping wet from the lake. The combination of fiery temper, wit and passion of Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) and the arrogance and smouldering looks of Darcy (Colin Firth) ensure the sparks keep flying.

The series was stretched over a leisurely five hours, two hours longer than the 1967 version. Rather than retaining more of Austen's story, director Simon Langton uses the additional time to give a sense of everyday life during Regency times. He blends non-dialogue physical 'action' scenes with rich, evocative period detail to inject the adaptation with energy and vitality missing from earlier adaptations (some of which have more in common with filmed plays). These include Elizabeth walking in the countryside (showing the changing of the seasons); extended scenes of dances; dramatised letters, and images of coach drivers and servants carousing outside the ball. Langton also includes new scenes from Darcy's life, which show his growing love for Elizabeth and increases the audiences' empathy towards him.

Pride and Prejudice was a cultural phenomenon, inspiring hundreds of newspaper articles and making the novel a commuter favourite. Austen's plot formed the basis for Helen Fielding's novel Bridget Jones' Diary. In a curious twist, Colin Firth not only appeared as Mark Darcy in the film adaptation (US/France/UK, d. Sharon Maguire, 2001), but had a part as himself in Fielding's follow-up novel, The Age of Reason, in which Bridget obsesses over the celebrated lake scene. In a further parallel, the screenplays for both Bridget Jones films were co-written by one Andrew Davies.

Louise Watson

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Brighton (6:09)
2. Pemberley (6:02)
Complete fourth episode (54:07)
Pride and Prejudice (1967)
Pride and Prejudice (1980)
Sense and Sensibility (1981)
Davies, Andrew (1936-)
Davis, Carl (1936-)
Firth, Colin (1960-)
Wearing, Michael (1939- )
Jane Austen on Television
TV Literary Adaptation