Bed Heads Revisited: Rachel Cooke Thanks ITV for a Spicy Remake of a Schlocky Seventies Drama

By Cooke, Rachel | New Statesman (1996), September 13, 2010 | Go to article overview

Bed Heads Revisited: Rachel Cooke Thanks ITV for a Spicy Remake of a Schlocky Seventies Drama


Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)


Bouquet of Barbed Wire

ITV1

In the library at my school in Sheffield, the selection of adult books was limited but surprising: if you looked, you could find all sorts of racy stuff. The only possible explanation I've ever been able to come up with for this is that the teachers simply assumed such volumes would never be read.

Well, I read them. Desperately seeking information about Adult World, I gorged myself silly in my lunch hour (and sometimes during particularly boring lessons) on the novels of Edna O'Brien, Margaret Drabble and, naughtiest of all, Andrea Newman.

In my mind's eye, I can still see the battered 1976 TV tie-in cover of Bouquet of Barbed Wire ("Now a powerful drama from London Weekend Television"). Susan Penhaligon, who played Prue, was in turquoise, staring into the middle distance. Frank Finlay, as her father, Peter, had luxuriant sideburns and was whispering in her ear. Believe me, for a 13-year-old girl, this jacket was more thrilling than I can possibly describe here without making both of us blush.

I guess it was only a matter of time before someone remade Bouquet "for a new generation" (6 September, 9pm). Ordinarily, I fear these remakes. Why not write something new? In the case of Bouquet, though, I was hot with excitement. Would its tangled tale of sexual obsession still seem shocking? Would it still grip like a vice? And who would step into the shoes of Penhaligon and Finlay?

I'll take these in reverse order. Prue is played by Imogen Poots and Peter is played by Trevor Eve. Poots is a more convincing actor than Penhaligon, bringing to the role both innocence and spoiled sophistication (although, boringly, her character is not half as manipulative as the 1976 Prue, who was a minx).

Eve, meanwhile, is delicious as Peter: creepy and creeping. I particularly liked the moment when his jaw went slack with desire--acute but very ageing--shortly before he molested his pert new colleague over her drawing board (this time round, he is an architect, publishers being well on their way to extinction).

Am I gripped? Oh, yes, even though I know--or I think I know--exactly what's going to happen. …

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