BBC Two to recreate Pride And Prejudice ball

Pride And Prejudice is a cornerstone of British cultural and literary heritage and, 200 years after it was published, it is fantastic to be able to bring BBC Two audiences a new look at the goings on behind the popular social event of the era.”Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two
Date: 16.01.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.13
Category: BBC Two; Factual
This Easter a BBC Two team will recreate a Regency era ball in Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball (w/t) in honour of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s popular novel.

Presenter Amanda Vickery (The Many Lovers Of Jane Austen) will lead us through the action. She'll be joined by Alastair Sooke (Modern Masters) and a team of experts who reconstruct the ball in loving detail, from music and dancing, to food and fashion.

Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two, said: “Pride And Prejudice is a cornerstone of British cultural and literary heritage and, 200 years after it was published, it is fantastic to be able to bring BBC Two audiences a new look at the goings on behind the popular social event of the era.”

Across 90 minutes, the team of experts will weave together the planning and rehearsal of a typical early 19th century ball, look back at first-hand testimony of ball-goers of the time, and end with a stunning, authentic recreation based on Austen's Netherfield Ball, a turning point in the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy.

Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball will take an intelligent look at the social history of Austen’s world and explore how, as well as drinking, dancing and jollity, balls had an important purpose - to help women find a husband. Playing an important role in Austen’s novels, the pomp and excitement of a lively ball would drive forward the plot, explore and reveal character and shine a light on the society of the day.

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for Arts, said: “With the enduring popularity of the novel and its many television and film adaptations, this special programme for BBC Two offers a fresh perspective, exploring with depth and detail of one Regency Britain’s most crucial functions.”

The team of experts who will play a key role in the recreation include: food historian Ivan Day; Professor Jeanice Brooks and Dr Wiebke Thormahlen, who will advise on the music and orchestral elements; and curator and expert on history of dress, Hilary Davidson. Stuart Marsden and Dr Anne Daye will choreograph the dancing and literary expert John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London, will be on hand to ensure the ball’s accuracy and authenticity to Austen’s work.

BBC Learning has contributed to the funding of the project and has commissioned a range of additional supporting material, including Regency recipes devised by Ivan Day for the BBC Food website. There will also be a curated Regency art feature for the Your Paintings website, period fashion and dance resources for the BBC History site and additional materials by the presenters for adult reading groups.

Notes to Editors

  • Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball (working title) was commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two and Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, Arts. The commissioning executive producer for the BBC is Greg Sanderson, and the executive producers for Optomen are Jon Swain and Sue Murphy
  • It will be filmed on location at Chawton House, Hampshire and will air on BBC Two this Spring

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