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Vanity Fair: What the reviewers think

Emma Bullimore from the TV Times and Morgan Jeffrey from Digital Spy share their thoughts on ITV's new adaptation of Vanity Fair.

Photo courtesy of ITV and Mammoth Screen

Emma says "It's a really good piece"

"James Strong, the director, said 'This is the period drama for people who don't like period dramas'. But in a way that is its greatest success and greatest failing because I'm not sure it's gonna completely satisfy people who love a period drama

"Olivia Cooke plays Becky Sharp. This is a real feminist piece of work. She is the most audacious woman in literature. She is gold digger, a social climber and she doesn't care. On the surface that might make you think she's a villain but actually you see that she is trapped in this society where women have no choice but to try and think outside the box if they want to get anywhere if they've had a bad start of life.

"I don't think it's gonna hit the way that Downton Abbey did because it's not that same kind of soap opera, but I think it's a really good piece and I really enjoyed it.

"They are doing interesting things with Becky Sharp character. There are lots of asides to camera in a Fleabag style, they use modern music, they use Madonna tracks here and there.

"Some people who absolutely love the escapism of a period drama might start to say 'it's not quite as sumptuous or lavish as I want' but I think as Becky goes up in society you'll see more of that because she'll be mixing with higher and higher status people."

Emma Bullimore is a TV critic at the TV Times.

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Morgan says "It's quite camp and quite silly"

"I found it quite enjoyable, even as someone who doesn't particularly enjoy a period dramas. It's very frothy and quite heightened.

"It clearly doesn't have the budget of say The Crown, on Netflix. There are some slightly ropey CGI shots that have been used to establish the period setting that don't always quite work. But I think if you don't have that sheen and the gloss of the more expensive series then absolutely the right way to go is to play it a little bit heightened, a little bit tongue in cheek.

"Interestingly Bodyguard easily came out on top in the ratings with almost 7 million viewers, compared to Vanity Fair's 3.8 million.

"I think Bodyguard has had two weeks to build an audience, and no matter what you think of Vanity Fair and its approach I think this proves that audiences are hungry for new material, not something they've seen before in another form.

"Vanity Fair is quite a different take on the original novel but all the same. I think people just think a 'Vanity Fair, I've seen that I want something new and exciting and interesting'."

Morgan Jeffrey is the TV Editor at Digital Spy.

Vanity Fair is available on the ITV Player and continues on Sunday at 9pm.

TV club is on 5 Live's Afternoon Edition every Monday from 3pm.

Watch the Vanity Fair review in full

Review: Vanity Fair

TV reviewers give their take on the new ITV adaptation of Vanity Fair