1 9 8 2 (UK)
7 x 55 minute episodes
This adaptation spans the first two (of seven) novels in the author’s Barchester series – The Warden and Barchester Towers and is one of the best television literary adaptations ever made – sophisticated drama for grown-ups, which is also very funny.
With much of the dialogue taken directly from the novel, we observe 10th-century church politics through the eyes of the perpetually splenetic Archdeacon, Dr Grantly (Nigel Hawthorne), the oily and ambitious Obadiah Slope (Alan Rickman), the ineffectual and henpecked Bishop Proudie (Clive Swift) and his proud and prudish wife (Geraldine McEwan).
Rickman is too attractive for Slope but is suitably creepy in his hypocrisy.
Donald Pleasence is delightful as the benign, music-loving and high-principled Warden, Septimus Harding who plays an imaginary cello in moments of stress and can be powerful in his rare outbursts of anger.
Susan Hampshire also scores strongly as upstaging temptress Madeline Neroni, Mrs Proudie’s arch-rival.
An earlier Trollope adaptation, The Pallisers (1974), had been a great success and The Barchester Chronicles was a last-minute substitute for a more expensive plan to adapt Stendhal’s The Scarlet and Black.
Signora Madeline Neroni