The Mirror has a brief story about Steve Coogan playing Samuel Pepys in a one-off drama as part of a BBC 2 series about “famous literary figures.” Filming is in the summer. For non-British readers, Steve Coogan is best known for his comedy character Alan Partridge, a TV presenter who falls on hard times and presents an early morning local radio show. It’s great stuff but his other work often doesn’t quite hit the mark (in my opinion).


Charles White  •  Link

Steve Coogan may do well in the part, but the character of Pepys was long ago defined for me by Peter Sallis, who now plays Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine.

In any case whoever may play the part, there will always be the clash between the mental and the actual image, won't there?

Eric Walla  •  Link

OK, here is new ground for me ...

... are there other film versions of Pepys available, or are we talking stage productions?

New to the subject, you must understand, and situated in the North American colonies to boot. We were once a Hudsons Bay Co. fur trading outpost, if that is any compensation.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Just the guy to play the Duke of York

Seen a picture of the Duke of York, later James II?

Seen a picture of Steve Buscemi?

I rest my case. (He's just got to get the accent right.) Is he available?

Phil Stott  •  Link

Samuel Pepys was a relatively popular figure in the pre-war period of British cinema. His first celluloid adventure seems to be in in 1922 in The Glorious Adventure, played by Lennox Pawle.

He is also played by Johnny Butt and Esme Percy (no, I'm not making the names up) in two versions of the story of Charles II's mistress Nell Gwynn (1926 & 1934). He is portrayed by Arthur Chesney in a 1934 film about the man who stole the crown jewels Colonel Blood, and by Henry Oscar in 1941 in Penn of Pennsylvania. He has most recently been played by John Shrapnel in England, My England (1995, with Michael Ball as Purcell. Suddenly Steve Buscemi as the Duke of York looks more and more plausible).

Penn of Pennsylvania is available on VHS in the States and England, My England in the UK from Amazon.

I'm not sure about TV and stage productions, and I don't remember the Peter Sallis version. There is a 1998 play by Vanessa Brooks called 'Poor Mrs Pepys' premiered by Red Shift Theatre, and I assume there have been a few one-man adaptations of the diaries.

Peter Sallis, for readers unfortunate enough to miss out on Last Of The Summer Wine, is also the voice of Gromit in the Wallace & Gromit animations. And very good he is too.

Phil Stott  •  Link

No, he's not. He's Wallace. Gromit's the dog. Sorry.

Joyce Barry  •  Link

I am, perhaps I should say, a very mature-age student who is proposing to study the diaries of Pepys to read for a PhD in Australia. I would appreciate correspondence from anyone with a like interest.

Phil  •  Link

Joyce, you'll need to either enter a URL where people can contact you, or leave the 'Personal URL' field empty so people can see your email address.

joyce barry  •  Link

I am a mature-age student who is proposing to study the diaries of Pepys to read for a PhD in Australia. I would appreciate correspondence from anyone with a like interest.

Roger Miller  •  Link

Tomalin refuses to help BBC with Pepys TV biopic

There was a gossip column item in yesterday's London Evening Standard about this show.

It seems that they've run into trouble with the script written by Guy Jenkin, author of the sitcom 'Drop The Dead Donkey'. 'Too whimsical' is the description.

It is alleged that the BBC tried to get Claire Tomalin involved but she turned them down. She's quoted as saying: 'I knew nothing about it until I heard from them and felt that it was rather late in the day to be involved.'

bert van hoecke  •  Link

I am a upper-secondary school teacher in Sweden and I was wondering if the BBC show on Samuel Pepys is available on DVD, as I would like to show snippets of it to my students. The BBC shop website doesn't seem to list it...
Bert Van Hoecke

Glyn  •  Link

Unfortunately no. I visited the BBC shop to ask, and they say that there are no plans to put it on DVD.

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