Comparing films or TV adaptations to the original book is never a good starting point for a review, but it is inevitable in this case. Were not the novels so fantastic this would never have been made at all. Powell was a superb writer and Dance was his opus, his Remembrance of Things Past. A 12 novel sequence of incredible period detail and beautifully, intimately drawn characters. Brideshead ( a single novel )was treated to over 12 hours in the Granada masterpiece. This is shoehorned into 6 or 7. A certain amount of compression then. That being said, it is of a consistent high quality throughout. Thumbnail versions of the characters enact the main drives of the narrative threads. Casting is excellent, especially James Purfoy and Miranda Richardson. A host of British character talent clock in for their 5 minutes on screen to give the piece it's much needed colour. Costumes, cars, locations are all genuine and carry the piece convincingly across the decades. W never meet Dicky Umfraville, sadly, the gentleman rider or are given a glimpse into the hard drinking life of the moneyed classes that was oft referred to in the novels. Widmerpool however did not come to life for me. This character was Powell's great tribute to Dickens, more than Stringham was to Waugh, and in the novels he is larger than life and ten times more loathsome and grotesque. This portrayal was, I felt, understated. The story of the omnipresent Widmerpool's ascendance and destruction is the heart of the books. Powell hated this character and, godlike, spared him no abject humiliation from the first chapter to the last. There was no redemption possible for this monstrous creature of the imagination.I would love to know who he was based on; a school bully perhaps. That is where I felt this lacked. It is unlikely that this will be adapted again and so this version is probably the only one we will ever have. It's worth the few quid even if a little lite.