New on the BBC – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Magic. In the old days it was everywhere and dominated everything. The legends tell of great magicians and their multitude of feats and miracles. But that was long ago and now people only talk about magic and treat it as pleasant dinner diversion. No one is silly enough to believe it’s real. No one is silly enough to try it out, are they? 


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell


When a wager leads to the discovery of the first real magician in 300 years, the mysterious Mr Norrell, a series of prophesied events are set in motion, leading to the reveal of another magician, Jonathan Strange.  While Norrell is bookish and shy Strange is Charming and at ease. But between them they will enter a pact that will forever alter the fate of the nation.

This new drama from the BBC has a lovely style about it and a great cast. On paper it looks like a sure fire hit. Story from a bestselling authoress, great cast and top BBC production values.  While it has the scope to hit it out the part it stumbles a little in the first episode after a gripping start but it regains its footing to end strongly. The main weakness, for me at least, was Norrells bookish and timid nature taking up too much time, things kick into gear once the deranged but mesmerizing Paul Kaye barges into events. And by the time Marc Warren shows up the magic is truly flowing.  It certainly leaves you wishing to be able to bend time and watch the second part immediately.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without littering the review with spoilers and they would be a disservice to a plot that spins and twists in a delightful manner. Time will tell if this is a classic but it does look like one in the making. It has some top production values and a production team who clearly understand the source material. With it being such a well-loved book it demands no less.  Free up your Sunday nights and prepare to be enchanted.


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