I hated Natalie Ogle's Lydia. I don't know why all of these BBC productions of Jane Austen with immature girls have the worst actresses playing them? Sense and Sensibility (1980) is the same way. They choose these young looking actresses on nothing more than their looks and their ability to read a script apparently. The only Lydia I've liked is Julia Sawalha, she played it genuinely, at the right age, and laughed naturally. Everyone else, including Jena Malone, plays her too young and with forced laughter. Like perhaps they are overcompensating for age, even though Sawalha was the oldest to play her, I believe. All the other Lydia's shriek and carry on, and I never really got that impression from the book. I don't think she is that different from other teenagers nowadays, well a middle schooler from now. Ogle played her like a 10-year old.
My other problem was that they didn't do any voice-over until the the 3 or 4th episode. It was very strange that everyone was reading their letters that they had written aloud. As I watched I was seriously wondering if they just didn't know how to do them, but then I remembered that they have been doing voice-overs since talkies have been in existence. It is a worthless point but it really bothered me.
Other than that, I have very few complaints. I did find it interesting that they used the same girl who played Elinor in Sense and Sensibility (1980) to play Charlotte. I was always under the impression that Elinor was relatively attractive (at least not plain), and I had resigned myself, while watching S & S, into thinking that tastes have changed.. but apparently not, if they used her to play the plain Charlotte. Anyway, that was a big tangent.
I do agree with some of the other posters that the levels of beauty in the Bennet girls were better portrayed in this film than the 95 version. I think Susannah Harker is very handsome and I appreciate that now, but when I first saw it I kept thinking how much more attractive Jennifer Ehle was than Harker. I would say that classically speaking and for the time period, Harker would have been the most beautiful girl, she has a lovely neck and profile. Another tangent, sorry.
But yes, it is a good film, but for me, the 1995 version will always be my number one. All the actors are great and I prefer the locations much more.
The Dashwood Ladies (the mom and Mrs. John Dashwood included) all did a decent job, as well as Edward, Willowby, and Colonel Brandon. Nothing extraordinary, but they get the job done. My issue was with the supporting players. All of them sounded like they were reading from scripts, esp. Lucy, Miss Steele, Charlotte, and Mrs. Jennings. I had the biggest issues with Charlotte and Miss Steele. Charlotte's laugh even sounded scripted (ha ha ha ha) with no authenticity whatsoever. **SPOILER ALERT** When Miss Steele drops the bomb and Fanny Dashwood flips out, Miss Steele's cowering looks somewhere between hypothermia and seizures. Also, none of the actors had the emotional depth needed for this story. Whenever one of the actresses was trying to hold back tears, there is no look of restraint before they burst into tears, so it looks very odd and bi-polar. Also, when Brandon is taking Marianne out of the party, there is no sense of urgency. Elinor just strolls out after them. I would think, if your sister has fainted, you would feel like maybe you should move a little quicker. Mrs. Jennings had good moments but I was totally thrown off by her closeup after Elinor tells her off; and she never came back from that for me.
Basically, I would say go with the 1995 version, there is excellent acting, better looking people, better cinematography (it isn't really the movie's fault that it's so bad in that department since it was in 1981), the stuff that needs to be in there is, and they don't add anything too Hollywood to it. This version added nothing to the story for me, and I found it very unromantic (probably the best description as to why this movie is lacking for me in comparison to the 1995 version). The novel has very romantic moments but no part of this movie gave me that "Aw" heartwarming moment.