BBC Radio 7, 25 December 2009
This charming short story, first published in 1870, told the story of
a husband and wife (Chris Larkin, Julia McKenzie) who were worried about their daughter Bella (Finty Williams) - a self-willed
girl expected to find the right partner, but perhaps lacking in those qualities of pliability and sweetness expected from
a late Victorian middle class woman. She might fall in love, but might prove too much of a handful. Into their household comes
a Darcyesque figure Mr. Archer (John Rhys Davies) who, although perfectly polite and well-mannered towards his hosts, seems
totally devoid of humanity. He even repudiates the idea of Christmas dinner - roast beef, apple sauce and all the trimmings
- which really upsets Bella.
As the story unfolds, however, we understand that Archer and Bella really do love
one another, but cannot actually find the words to express it. Archer proposes, and Bella rejects him on the grounds that
he has been too prenature in his request. However her attitude changes once she discovers how generous Archer has been in
providing a gift of a joint of beef to Miss Dimbleby (Mary Wimbush, in one of her last radio roles), an old lady living alone
on the family estate. Needless to say the course of true love runs smoothly from then on, and the two of them embrace to the
sound of violins in the background.
Philip Glasborough's production captured the Christmas spirit, placing good-fellowship
and forgiveness at its centre. So long as no one calls Christmas dinner a bore (even though it can be), then everyone will