Bold as it was for PD James was to imagine the characters of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ caught up in a murder mystery, it’s arguably bolder still for Juliet Towhidi and the BBC to adapt it. Thank goodness, then, that it’s Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys who step into the roles of Lizzie and Darcy; both are performers sufficiently smart and gifted to sidestep direct comparison with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and offer their own interpretations of the characters.
No less impressive are Jenna Coleman, Matthew Goode and Rebecca Front as Lydia, Wickham and a thankfully restrained Mrs Bennett, while tweaks to the book are discreet and intelligent, making more of both the comedy and romance and a little less of the procedural. The story – taking place six years after ‘P&P’ – revolves around an unexpected and unwelcome arrival at Darcy’s titular country seat during preparations for a ball. After a breezy start, things take a darker turn and the fallout envelops everyone, precipitating a relishable cameo from Trevor Eve as the local magistrate. Perfect Boxing Day fare; this three-parter continues tomorrow at 9pm.