Saturday 6th December 2003

Earlier in the year there was news of a dramatisation of Pepys starring Steve Coogan. It will be starting on BBC 2 on 16th December. There’s a BBC press release from September about it, but not much else that I can find on their site.

Feel free to post comments about the show below, rather than in the daily annotation entries, or in the discussion list, which is probably a better forum for discussion. Thanks.

18 Comments

tony t.   Link to this

Preview articles have started to appear in the UK TV listings magazine which come out early at Christmas time. There is a two page article in 'TV & Satellite week for 13th/19th Dec which is unexpectedly accurate and informative. At least Steve Coogan, best known as a comedian, seems to be taking his role as Samuel Pepys seriously.
I recollect that Peter Sallis, another comedian - now best known for 'Wallace & Gromitt' and 'Last of the Summer Wine', was a good Samuel Pepys (particularly in looks) in a BBC series shown in, I think, the late 1950s.

vincent   Link to this

any comments on chas 2 on bbc.

Roger Arbor   Link to this

Chas 2... soft porn. I switched it off halfway through the second episode.

Roger Arbor   Link to this

Daily Telegraph piece (10-Dec) on the forthcoming 'Pepys' TV play on the chat line....

wisteria53   Link to this

"Note to self: be far ruder" which appears today in The Guide (entertainment listings magazine that comes with The Guardian) has tips on how to write a diary and is another pre-"The Private Life of Samuel Pepys" (Tuesday 9pm BBC2) feature. It mentions pepysdiary.com as "a heroic undertaking to post Pepys' complete diary, all 1.3m words of it, in daily instalments".

I can't find a link to the article by Andrew Mueller online, but the tips are:
1. Be interested in things other than yourself
2. Live in interesting times
3. Be a hero
4. Be a villain
5. Be rude
6. Reveal scandalous secrets
7. Be able to write a bit

PHE   Link to this

I quite enjoyed the BBC2 drama last night. I wasn't expecting much, but overall quite entertaining and it managed to show Pepys was an important personality in his time. More bawdiness than necessary and a lot of mixing up the timing of events. One hour is a little short to cram in 10 years (or more)of history. Many a single day of Sam's life could fill an hour's programming.

Mary   Link to this

Apart from the costumes, which were very pretty, I can't say that I enjoyed the programme. Can't decide who it was intended for. Those who know Pepys fairly well will surely have found it shallow and muddled; those who don't know Pepys will have been given a largely misleading introduction to him, particularly if they then go to the diaries themselves looking for page after page of rumpy-pumpy.

As a cross-over opportunity, I don't think that it served Steve Coogan particularly well, either. Beta-minus?minus

Peter   Link to this

All I can say is that my family, who are well aware of my interest in Sam, now think I'm doing nothing but satisfying my baser instincts every time I dip into the Diary. Oh well!

Sjoerd Spoelstra   Link to this

I enjoyed the programme as well (We can get the BBC in the Netherlands these days). I had not recognized the name Coogan as the guy who did the series about the divorced father delivering long monologues into the camera, sitting in his car. So the step to a diary-writer is logical.
And of course you see a lot of "missed opportunities" in a short TV-programme, and a lot of stuff where you think "I thought he FIRST was cut for the stone and THEN married....must look that up". But on the whole - given the absolute trash that is being put out on TV - i thought it was an entertaining view of mr. Pepys. And of course the "family" walked into the room at exactly at the same moment as Peter's did. So that is something else that has not changed in 340 years !

chris wedgwood   Link to this

I was really disappointed with the Pepys drama. To portray him as an english Don Juan is a gross distortion and detracts from many of his accomplishments. I did expect more from the BBC, but we shouldn't be surprised, given the current pandemic of dumbing down and playing to the lowest intellect.

Presumably for dramatic purposes, they even showed him writing the diary in plain text, rather than his shorthand.

I have to say that I'm really pleased this isn't a series...

Peter Roberts   Link to this

BBC 2`s version of Charles II, indicated TV`s thirst for big audiences means appealing to the common denominator, colloquially `dumbing down`. Thus programme makers, concentrate on exploiting characters foibles, NOT strengths. Well SP, had lots of both. `Today` his foibles made for cheap TV, no big sets, just a camera dwelling lasciviously on lots of nudity, sensuous seemingly unrelated body movements, `heavy breathing`, `Colonel Parker` style kinky `open view` sex scenes in `Hyde Park`, funny clothes, funny wigs for both sexes and SP digging a hole to protect his illgotten gains, not against the Fire, but the Militia!
SP`s role in Quelling the Great Fire, his almost single handed re-building of the `Wooden Walls` that surrounded England, ie The Navy, and his virtual founding of the Civil Service etc., are ignored! That this was not to be true to the diary, is the otherwise inexplicable lead casting of Steve Coogan [whoever she is!].
VERDICT: Cheap! At least they didn`t spend ALL my licence fee! Seriously, the costume department of the BBC, were let down by a sketchy knowledge of both the Diary, and the role Pepys played in post Restoration England! Further, `We are not amused` by a script so thin and lightweight that Will Shakespeare would have risked rewriting it, had he received it from Bacon!!

Anthony   Link to this

I don't remember the programme ever claiming to be anything other than a bit of fun, and as such I can't see anything wrong with its portrayal of Pepys as 'Shagger Pepys'. If it had claimed to be a proper documentary then of course that would be another matter. But it didn't. And there's nothing wrong with a but of fun.

Sjoerd Spoelstra: that wasn't Steve Coogan. You're thinking of Rob Brydon, and the programme is Marion and Jeff. Steve Coogan did Alan Partridge before this (among other things).

Congrats on the award by the way. Well deserved, if you ask me. Top site.

Stephen   Link to this

The romp with Coogan was a bit of fun. For the proper doc you had to watch BBC4 a few weeks ago: assorted talking heads and readers, plus Saml on the London Eye. It'll be repeated.

Antonia Schuitema   Link to this

As I came home late from work tuesday 16 December , I chanced upon BBC 2 and the Samuel Pepys' Show. It was good entertainment and my first acquaintence with tha man and his world. But I can imagine the programme to have been a horror to serious SP-scholars. The next day I bought Claire Tomalin's biography and this afternoon I went to Waterstone's (Amsterdam) for the Diaries themselves. Thanks to the BBC.

Mary Merivel   Link to this

Unfortunately, there's no BBC 2 channel here in Russia, so I couldn't see this TV program. I'd like to watch something about Mr. Pepys; it could make me a good entertainment after a hard work I have everyday. I guess, the script is more like "Restoration" by Miramax, than like Pepys' Diary as it is; but it's a good idea anyway to film the story from 17th century through Mr. Pepys personal story. So let it be.

Dennis de Gruijter   Link to this

I found the Pepys dramatization a well-entertaining program as well, with Steve Coogan putting up a good show. True, it focused on the light-hearted side of Pepys' life, but that saved it from becoming like the pretentious nilly-dilly that "Charles II: the Power and the Passion" was (the title alone is an argument against it). And, like my fellow countrymen above, I immediately started collecting the Latham edition of the diary, which I'm reading now.

Grahamt   Link to this

Don't know where else to put this:
Simon Schama's "The History of Britain" is being shown on the BBC World channel. Episode 9 Revolutions (circa 1649 - 1689) was shown last night and is sure to be repeated. All about Cromwell, Charles II, James, and William & Mary. Oh, and Samuel gets a mention.

Jim M   Link to this

Does anyone know if the Peter Sallis PEPYS series is available on video? I am a life-long, die-hard fan of his. Thanks!

Log in to post a comment.

If you don't have an account, then register here.