Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball

Confirmed for BBC Two on 10 May at 9.00pm to 10.30pm

Ep 1/1

Friday 10 May



In Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball, social historian Amanda Vickery leads the action as a team of experts recreate a Regency ball in honour of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s popular novel.

Joined by Alastair Sooke and a coterie of professionals – a food historian, a costume expert, music history academics and a choreographer who trains a team of dance students to take to the floor– cameras will follow the recreation inspired by Austen’s Netherfield ball. This intimate country house ball drives the plot of the Pride And Prejudice, and is a key turning point in the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy.

The first readers of Pride And Prejudice in 1813 would have understood the workings of a private ball, and BBC Two’s Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball sets out to recapture this detail, enabling modern audiences to understand Austen’s novel fully by reimagining the time in which she lived.

This charming 90-minute film captures every element of a Regency ball, from the careful preparation of the food and clothes to the etiquette and manners expected of dancers in the ballroom. Amanda explores the male and female fashions of the day, and meets a make-up artist producing authentic products from scratch, including rouge worn by the women - and Red Coat officers. Amanda and Alastair observe the dancers in rehearsal, revealing just how energetic the routines were and, lured by the uplifting, traditional music, even attempt a few steps themselves. As the day of the ball dawns, Alastair dons his breeches, and attempts to channel Mr Darcy’s poise and avoid the clumsy moves of Mr Collins on the dance floor.

Observing the splendour and spectacle from the side-lines, Amanda and literary expert John Mullan reflect on the importance of the ball and its role in society. As young men and women embarked on the pursuit of a partner, the Regency ball was an arena where your every move could make or break your chances in the highly competitive marriage market.


BBC Learning has contributed to the funding of Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball, commissioning 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.


The experts recreating the ball include:

  • Professor John Mullan – literary expert, professor of English at University College London
  • Professor Jeanice Brooks, professor in music at the University of Southampton
  • Hilary Davidson – curator, expert on history of dress
  • Ivan Day, food historian, expert on Regency and Georgian cuisine
  • Stuart Marsden – authority on Regency dance
  • Dr Hannah Greig, etiquette expert, lecturer in early modern history at University of York
  • Sally Pointer, make-up expert

The Regency ball guests are the GSA Dancers from the Guildford School of Acting.


Pride And Prejudice: Having A Ball was commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two and Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor, Arts.

It is an Optomen production for the BBC. The executive producers for Optomen are Jon Swain and Sue Murphy and the commissioning executive producer for the BBC is Greg Sanderson.