Tuesday 9 November 2010

Francesca Annis, then and now

The Little House concluded on Monday evening, with a stand-out performance from Francesca Annis as the mother-in-law from hell. I thought this was quite a good suspense story, made all the more watchable by Annis. But the action fizzled out somewhat, and I was left at the end asking myself: 'Is that it?'

I’ve also just seen Annis in an episode from Partners in Crime, playing Tuppence Beresford in Agatha Christie’s story The Crackler. This programme dates back to 1982, but again she is the outstanding performer, lifting relatively mundane material to a higher level by the sheer exuberance of her acting.

In The Crackler, Christie parodied the work of Edgar Wallace. The Beresfords are asked by Scotland Yard to help to uncover the truth behind a forgery scam, and they infiltrate the high class, yet murky, Python Club to do so. Tommy is vamped by a Frenchwoman, played by Carolle Rousseau. Rousseau, like Annis, is extremely attractive, but an internet search suggests she did not do much acting after this show.

Whereas Annis has gone from strength to strength, not least in The Little House. I hope that excellent roles for characters of her age continue to be written – they should be. Incidentally, many years ago, my own mother-in-law (who died very young and whom, sadly, I never met) taught Annis for a while. Apparently, her brilliance was evident even at a tender age. As The Little House shows, she continues to be brilliant.


Uriah Robinson said...

Francesca Annis was also superb in the cop series Between the Lines with the equally delicious Siobhan Redmond; and the not Neal Pearson.

Martin Edwards said...

I missed all but a few of the later episodes of that show, Uriah, but I gather the early series were the best.

Anonymous said...

Comparing the Christie and the current story, I have to say that Annis has aged extremely gracefully. It seems a shame that she isn't seem more often on TV. Actually, it is sad that the medium doesn't make better use of actors of her generation. Colin Baker is currently appearing on stage as Inspector Morse. Although enjoying a good career in theatre, he has intimated that once you pass 60 years of age it becomes extremely difficult to sustain a telly career.The roles simply aren't there.