8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Colonialism and the British class system,
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This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)
I too watched and enjoyed this series when it was first televised. Of course at that time we'd had nothing like "Heimat" - not to mention "The Wire". I've just finished watching the series for the second time on this DVD set. I enjoyed it immensely - for much the same reasons as many other reviewers have commented on. I would however say that the script sometimes flags a little. I found the excessive amount of time devoted to the "Barbie Batchelor" character played by Peggy Ashcroft a little wearisome.
The most revealing thing about this series is the light it throws on the British class system (I almost wrote "caste"...) I imagine we're all aware that the colonial system was run by the same classes who controlled everything at home, even if they often consigned their dimmer offspring to service in the colonies. There isn't a single likeable and well-adjusted working-class or even middle-class character in the story. Indeed the entire plot revolves around the loathsome grammar school boy Ronald Merrick's attempts to ascend the social ladder.
Whilst the story does a fine job of outlining the conflicts within the Indian independence movement it also reveals the vile social attitudes prevailing within the British ruling classes. Of course these days they've learned to disguise these attitudes much more effectively. However the instant recognition registered between characters the moment "Chillingborough" is mentioned gives cause for reflection on the current make-up of the British Cabinet. Plus ça change, as we say in Europe...
Not having read every review here let me add, in case no one else has, an honorable mention of Judy Parfitt for her brilliant reading of the foul, alcoholic, Mildred Layton. This performance stands with Tim Piggot-Smith's as JITC's principal villains.