Did anyone record A Little House of Horror, 2-part drama with Francesca Annis which aired this week on ITV1? I will gladly trade or buy a copy.
Francesca Annis: A little house of horror
FRANCESCA ANNIS: A LITTLE HOUSE OF HORROR
Francesca Annis stars in The Little House, ITV1
Sunday October 31,2010
By David Stephenson
FRANCESCA Annis has been one of our leading stage and screen actresses for three decades, appearing in such TV series as Madame Bovary, Jane Eyre and most recently, Cranford. She’s back on our screens tomorrow night, in an atmospheric, two-part adaptation of The Little House, written by Philippa Gregory.
If you’ve ever had trouble with the in-laws, this is the drama for you. It follows the story of Ruth (Lucy Griffiths), who is married to career-minded Patrick (Rupert Evans) and is pushed towards the limits of her sanity when she becomes entangled in the lives of her wealthy but interfering in-laws Elizabeth (Annis) and Frederick (Tim Pigott-Smith).
“She’s a very confident, strong domestic woman,” says Annis of her character, “who runs her family and that’s her terrain. She also is a man’s woman and has always got on with men better than women. She is one of those women who is gender obsessed.
“This then leads you to the question: what happens with her daughter? We don’t really explore the mother and daughter relationship but there is clearly something very uncomfortable between them. Any mention of Fiona [her daughter] and Elizabeth is very dismissive.
“It’s her son Patrick who Elizabeth quite obviously adores. They have this very solid relationship. There’s an unspoken understanding that he’ll come to the family house every Sunday and be spoilt rotten by her. He’s her ‘little man’ and I imagine it was the sort of the relationship she had with her husband when they were first together.
“I always feel that men who go home at the weekends actually enjoy that experience and the safety valve is that you’re always able to leave. The comfort of the family is that it’s the one place you can be yourself.”
Annis’s own family life has presented its own challenges. She has three children from a long-term relationship with Patrick Wiseman that began in 1976. In 1994, she began a relationship with Ralph Fiennes, after meeting him when playing opposite him in Hamlet. In 2006, Fiennes and Annis announced their separation.
Says Annis, 65: “It’s really up to the children to break away from their parents. As a parent you very rarely throw them out of the nest; we tend to be emotional creatures that hold on. It’s their responsibility to leave the family home but Patrick doesn’t quite do that.”
And “the little house”? Annis says: “Frederick and Elizabeth have had their eye on ‘the little house’ for a long time so I don’t think their intentions to secure the house are solely to reel in Patrick.
“Their decision to buy the property may seem a little contrived but they are keen to maintain control of the area surrounding their home.
“When her son moves into the house, it’s heaven for Elizabeth. Then she finds out Ruth is pregnant and that’s a double whammy, even more so when she discovers she is going to have a grandson. Having them close by means that they can now be the adoring grandparents.”
Although Elizabeth and Frederick are keen to become the doting grandparents, Ruth has reservations about becoming a mother.
“When Ruth discovers she is pregnant, she has ambivalent feelings about the baby. She has unresolved issues about her own mother and the only family she knows now is Patrick’s. That’s what makes this drama so interesting.
“The vulnerability of Ruth is that she hasn’t got a very strong sense of herself and that is what sends her spiralling into depression after Thomas is born.
“Elizabeth is not very sensitive to that; however, I don’t think her initial intentions are malicious.
“Throughout the drama Elizabeth’s actions become smothering and domineering, particularly with someone like Ruth who has all her own vulnerabilities to contend with.
“I don’t have any grandchildren but I have friends who have and you can see it’s a very delicate balance between needing support and stating your own independence away from either your parents or in-laws, and being able to make your own way and decisions.”
Annis says the drama will be divisive: “When I spoke to Philippa Gregory, who visited the set during the production, she said her readers were quite evenly divided and I agree that the audience watching will be too.
“The younger viewers will be able to relate to Ruth whereas the older ones will relate very much to Elizabeth.
“On the whole I think a lot of viewers will be able to identify with the drama.”
Francesca Annis stars in The Little House, ITV1, tomorrow, 9pm