A BBC production of Stella Gibbons' satirical story. (This version was even used to help launch 1971's opening season of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.) Young Flora Poste leaves the funeral of... See full summary »
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1971   1968  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
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 Amos Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
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 Aunt Ada Doom (Starkadder) (3 episodes, 1968)
Sarah Badel ...
 Flora Poste (3 episodes, 1968)
Rosalie Crutchley ...
 Judith Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
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 Reuben Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
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 Seth Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
Billy Russell ...
 Adam Lambsbreath (3 episodes, 1968)
Hazel Coppen ...
 Mrs. Agony Beetle (3 episodes, 1968)
Sharon Gurney ...
 Elfine Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
Sheila Grant ...
 Rennett Starkadder (3 episodes, 1968)
John Golightly ...
 Charles Fairford (3 episodes, 1968)
Charlotte Howard ...
 Meriam (3 episodes, 1968)
Joan Bakewell ...
 Narrator (3 episodes, 1968)
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 Urk / ... (2 episodes, 1968)
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 Mr. Mybug (2 episodes, 1968)
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 Richard Hawk-Monitor (2 episodes, 1968)
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Storyline

A BBC production of Stella Gibbons' satirical story. (This version was even used to help launch 1971's opening season of Masterpiece Theater on PBS.) Young Flora Poste leaves the funeral of her parents and finds herself alone with insubstantial means ("barely enough to keep her in stockings and furs") in mid-1930's London. The young 20-something has no means (nor intentions) of developing her own career save to follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen in becoming an author . . . when she's 50. But she's confident in the support of friends and distant relatives as she gathers life experiences for her writing. She makes a very wise choice when she decides she'll stay with the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm - which she expects to be "appalling but interesting" - and where she'll use her talents to fix things (and people). The colorful array of cousins on the farm do not disappoint, but she's confident and, in the end, removes the curse on the farm, frees the cousins from the clutches of ... Written by John R. Williams

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Comedy

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26 December 1971 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Cold Comfort Farm (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth watching this alternative version.
23 December 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Nothing, but nothing, can beat the original novel by Stella Gibbons. Ostensibly a parody of earthy novels such as "Precious Bane" and the stuff by D.H. Lawrence, it is in fact a brilliant satire about the human race and what makes us tick, or not tick at all.

The closest any dramatisation has come to capturing her philosophy was probably the BBC Radio 4 version. Sometimes radio has better pictures, because you create the visuals yourself.

This early TV version suffered visually from being studio-bound, presumably because that is how things were done in those days. It also suffered, visually at least, from being directed by Peter Hammond, who loved 'frames within frames' and getting sexual symbolism into every shot; perhaps fashionable at the time but now seen as cliché ridden and hackneyed. However, it has a good cast and although it is really creaky by today's standards it is worth seeing if only as an alternative to the later and in my opinion less interesting John Schlesinger version, which had a huge budget and played the script for its laughs, avoiding the point of the novel.

So what IS the point of the novel? Well, read it and see. We all know a Judith; we all know an Aunt Ada; we all know people who blame their current condition on something in their past, either real or imaginary; we all know many of the human traits and foibles satirised in the novel. What Stella Gibbons did, deliciously, was not just to parody the style of novels by D.H. Lawrence and Mary Webb ("fecund rain spears" and "bursting sheaths") but also to extol the benefits of leading a tidy life full of beauty and harmony. She encapsulates the characteristics of the entire human race into one farmhouse full of superficially dysfunctional people. Read the novel, but, above all: read between the lines.


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