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Wilkie's Jewel ...
on 5 January 2010
These days, they would probably have hired a real diamond and blown the production budget on insurance.
In the good old days of Sunday Teatime Classic serials, a piece of yellow cut glass was more than sufficient to play the title role of 'The Moonstone'.
Remember that these things were usually in five or six episodes, a week apart. That meant they had to have something about them to pull the audience back after a whole seven days' distractions. And back we flocked.
'The Moonstone' is a good corking yarn with an intricate plot and some excellent characters. Vivien Heilbron, Robin Ellis, and Martin Jarvis turn up trumps - with a lovely supporting cast of familiar faces: I have always liked the late Anna Cropper as an actress. There was something mysterious about her, and she is perfect as Roseanna Spearman, the hump-backed servant with a dark secret.
This studio-based '70s production has the usual hallmarks of good design and lighting, and the whole has a great sense of atmosphere, aided by the sometimes grainy 16mm footage of the exteriors.
Have this and enjoy it. It offends nobody, and it's good spooky family viewing. It's a reminder that not everything has to be condensed into a rapid-fire 90-minute lavish 'special' to make excellent telly.