While PBS viewers in America still have two weeks left in the current series of Downton Abbey, UK viewers within the transmission signal of BBC One can look forward to the return of Blandings which is headed your way this coming Sunday, 16 February. While UK viewers will no-doubt remember, the series tells the story of the ninth earl and master of Blandings Castle, Lord Emsworth (Timothy Spall), who resides at the castle along with his imperious sister Connie (Jennifer Saunders), his empty-headed son Freddie (Jack Farthing), and any number of houseguests.
Lord Emsworth would rather be left in peace with his prize pig The Empress of Blandings, but his family are always at hand to complicate his life. Always there to offer a reluctant helping hand is the loyal and long-suffering butler, Beach, played by Mark Williams (Father Brown) in series 1 and by Tim Vine, who takes over the role of Beach the Butler in series 2.
Based on the writings of PG Wodehouse’s Blandings stories, the new series will see a number of guest stars including Harry Enfield (Men Behaving Badly) as The Duke of Dunstable, the most obnoxious man in England, who is committed to having Lord Emsworth committed; Celia Imrie (After You’ve Gone, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bridget Jones’s Diary), Clarence and Connie’s censorious elder sister, whose job is to make everybody’s life miserable; Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing, The Hour, Touch of Cloth) as Galahad ‘Gally’ Threepwood, Clarence’s incorrigible younger brother, who intends to publish a fantastically indiscreet memoir that will disgrace the family and James Fleet (Vicar of Dibley) as Colonel Fanshawe. Let’s not forget the visiting Hollywood film crew either…
Before series 1, Timothy Spall had a spot on description of Blandings when he said, “Downton Abbey is Downton Abbey. This is like Downton Abbey on some kind of early cocaine“.
Spall went on to say, “This incredibly dysfunctional aristocratic family are basically a bunch of lunatics who still behave the way they did when they were children…”. Series 2 of Blandings premieres Sunday, 16 February on BBC One. Look for the first series to premiere on public television stations in the States in the Spring of 2014.
For those just jumping on the Blandings bandwagon, I think this proves Spall’s point quite well.