Critical Condition: Decline and Fall

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➢ “The Beeb’s three-part adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1928 novel Decline and Fall has all the dulcet strings, cut-glass accents and easy-on-the eye sartorial and architectural trappings you’d expect of expensive period drama. But in setting out to do that masterpiece of social satire full justice, it has also been sure to keep its teeth commendably sharp … Waugh is tricky to get right on screen, but there was barely a bum note in this lovingly crafted hour of elegant, acidulous entertainment. One suspects Mr W would have approved.” — The Telegraph.

➢ “A ghastly gaggle of braying Oxford toffs leave behind a trail of destruction, safe in the knowledge that they’re rich enough for their own mess not to affect them and that it’s the poor man who will suffer the consequences … The previous government administration? Actually, this is Decline and Fall (BBC1). And you were worried that what Evelyn Waugh satirised in 1928 might have lost some of its relevance today? … This is less adaptation and more like a damn good edit, which manages to retain verbal nimbleness as well as the novel’s essence and spirit.” — The Guardian.

➢ “A new three-part BBC adaptation, with a cast that notably features Eva Longoria and David Suchet, who played Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot for many years. Screenwriter James Wood, who co-created the ecclesiastical urban sitcom Rev., and director Guillem Morales have made from Waugh’s text something both lively and leisurely, suitable to the author’s brand of antic, deadpan comedy.” — Los Angeles Times.

➢ “This serial may not have caught the public mood, but there is not a bad performance in it. Jack Whitehall as the naive young master who falls for Eva Longoria’s grandly deceitful Margot is excellent.” — The Times.

➢ “James Wood’s script unfortunately feels as flat as a pancake. It comes across as little more than a strung-together collection of Waugh’s best scenes, his lines of dialogue trotted out but never really flying.” — Radio Times.

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