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Clarissa (BBC-2 1991, Sean Bean, Saskia Wickham)



Despite being pretty much unknown these days Samuel Richardson was really the first proper novelist as we know it, shaking things up in the early days of the 18th century with his novel Clarissa – the first Dangerous Liasons / Fatal Attraction style book if you will and with noir period romances all the go in the 1980’s and 90’s an adaptation was a must.

Sean Bean plays Robert Lovelace, a handsome rake, who is determined to claim the virtue of the beautiful heiress Clarissa – what he hasn’t counted on of course is that he might actually fall in love with her.

Unusually for a BBC costume drama Clarissa wasn’t shot on film but its actually all the better for it, the dark passageways and candlit boudoirs coming to life under videotaped filming. Other than that Clarissa has all the hallmarks of a BBC classic, sumptuous costumes, top notch production design and quality acting from the likes of Sean Pertwee, Lynsey Baxter, Diana Quick, Hermoine Norris and Cathryn Harrison.

Sean Bean as Lovelace
Saskia Wickham as Clarissa Harlowe
Jonny Phillips as James
Lynsey Baxter as Arabella Harlowe
Hermione Norris as Anna Howe
Sean Pertwee as Jack Belford
Jeffry Wickham as Mr. Harlowe
Cathryn Harrison as Mrs. Sinclair
Shirley Henderson as Sally
Lucy Robinson as Deb
Darby Hawker as Dorcas
Frances Viner as Mrs. Harlowe
Ralph Riach as Uncle Anthony
Jon Sotherton as Hickman
Matthew Wait as Joe Leman
Michael Feast as Tomlinson
Julian Firth as Solmes
Lorna Heilbron as Mrs. Howe
Julia Dearden as Mrs. Moore
Allison Hancock as Betty


crew details
Writers: David Noakes, Janet Barron
Novel: Samuel Richardson
Director: Robert Bierman

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC Two
Duration: 3×60 minute episodes
Aired From: 27 November – 11 December 1991

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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