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Howards End on BBC One Review by TVMucho

BBC One's New Adaptation of EM Forster's Novel

Mon, December 27th, 2017

Howards End TV series, the BBC One’s adaptation of EM Forster’s Howards End book started out pretty good. Howards End feels so fresh, contemporary and relevant despite the costumes and formalities of the Edwardian setting. Seems like the decision to have the American writer Kenneth Lonergan adapting the series paid off. The clarity of his approach seemed unencumbered by preconception of the novel and his analysis of the shifts of British class and society.


Costumes and the Edwardian Setting

Kenneth Lonergan won the Oscar for best original screenplay this year with Manchester By the Sea. Howards End opened with Helen Schlegel (Philippa Coulthard), a young intellectual, writing to her sister Margaret (Hayley Atwell) from the sunny environs of Howards End. Howards End is the country home of the Wilcox family who invited her to visit.


The Wilcoxes – An Exotic Species

Helen is cultured and idealistic. To her, the thrusting, materialistic and nouveau riche Wilcoxes are an exotic species. She was constantly appaled by their difference. But what was she writing to her sister? She announced that she actually fell in love with one of them. Among the Schlegels, Aunt Juley (Tracey Ullman) was sent to sort things out.

The set-up has been exhilarating. After that, it became subtler. However, even though that the engagement was broken off, the lives of the two families became entangled even more. This happened when the Wilcoxes took an apartment in London near the Schlegels, and Margaret and Mrs Wilcox’s friendship started to strengthen.


Howards End Analysis – The acting and highlights

The acting is excellent. Harley Atwell is terrific as the well-intentioned and emotionally repressed Margaret. Matthew Macfadyen is excellent as the charismatic Wilcox paterfamilias Henry. The two marvellously nuanced two-handers. Through this, both actors managed to make possible and forthcoming love affair between people from camp chalk and cheese.

The director Hettie Macdonald is brilliant and knows when and what to do. Howards End is a high-quality drama. BBC One certainly didn’t miss out here. It’s apparent that much thought has been poured into the making of Howards End TV Series on BBC One. It is an intelligent piece where ideas matter the most.

We are also provided with a fun analogy. It is visible how enormously in some ways, and little in others, Britain has changed in the last 100 years since the Howards End book has been written. The metropolitan elite still chatter and the business folk still cut a swathe through everything in pursuit of wealth.

Howards End


Where is the Fault with the BBC One Drama

It’s hard so far to find any fault with Howards End, especially in the world where a half-naked photo of a silicon creature counts as headline news. Here, Howards End provides the divide between intellectuals and men of affairs. It’s not action and amazing effects but it is intelligent and daring.

There are exquisite scenes in Howards End. There are some distinguishes between the series and the novel. For example, in the novel, the pontification on the poetry in life and the troubles of the lower classes by Margaret and Helen was somewhat pompous and boring. But in Howards End TV Series, the actors made them believable human beings and the writing gives us instances of theorising and humour.


Tibby Schlegel – As Irritating as Boycey from Only Fools and Horses

Tibby Schlegel (Alex Lawther) is one of the most irritating characters on television since Boycey and Mr Blobby. It is possible that Tibby might go to legend and become cultish. Tibby is a man-boy who goes around in his smoking jacket doing nothing. Well, not nothing. He is constantly complaining about errant bass notes in Beethoven or the indignities of his current head cold. Other characters also find him irritating. There is a meme that is starting to rise in Howards End: “Go Away Tibby!”.


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