Blood, Sex and Money

This is just a quick post to let people know that there is a nine-part radio series on BBC Radio 4 based on Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series of novels. It’s called Blood, Sex and Money and the first episode, called Animals is on Saturday 21st November 2015 at 14:30 GMT and then each episode daily – episode details can be found here. It’s starring, amongst others, Glenda Jackson and Robert Lindsay.

Of course UK residents can listen to it or use the catch-up service on the iPlayer but I’m not sure if these programmes are available for anyone outside the UK – I have a feeling that they aren’t.

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38 comments on “Blood, Sex and Money

  1. BookerTalk says:

    I had the chance to hear a preview pf one of the episodes last night. It’s based on La Bête Humaine and is outstanding. If the other episodes are of similar quality this could be the highlight of the decade

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dagny says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. Sometimes we can listen here in the U.S. I’ve bookmarked it, so I can check tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dagny says:

    Yes, it’s available in the U.S.!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jonathan says:

    Well, I listened to the first episode today and I liked it. They cover the first book really well, especially as the book covers a lot of ground and they have to give a bit of historical info to deliver as well.

    The accents are always going to be a problem I guess as they’re speaking in English – would it be better if they spoke with a French accent? The thing I find a bit annoying is that they mix up loads of regional accents. I just wish that they’d stick to a single regional accent if they’re going to do this. It was quite jokey wasn’t it? I didn’t mind that too much, although the militia sounded a bit too much like Dad’s Army for me. 🙂 Looking forward to the next episodes.

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    • Dagny says:

      So you noticed (and didn’t care for) the accents too, Jonathan? I thought it was just me since I’m in the U.S. I see what you mean about regional accents. I was thinking I wouldn’t have noticed if it had been Americans speaking. But I do notice if strong regional ones creep in.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Well, the problem I have with strong regional accents is that it pinpoints it to a specific place. In the first episode I spotted Geordie, Cockney, Somerset, Scottish and Brummie accents and for me it’s a bit too much of a mish-mash. I think they’d be better off just keeping to a few generic accents that aren’t really from anywhere – this is what they used to do in these sort of productions. Remember we’re still trying to maintain the illusion that we’re in France. It’s a tricky thing to do but I think the modern choice of having a mixture of readily identifiable regional accents is wrong. This occurs in many modern productions though.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Linz says:

          I thought it might make sense if they chose accents from a single city – it’s set in Paris, after all – and instead, say, gave everyone variations on that city. The most obvious parallel would be London. This would allow for nuances in class (Nana, Satine, cockney; other characters more well spoken) Of course, major cities attract people from all over, and 19th-century Paris was no exception, but I found the wide variety of accents distracting and inconsistent.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jonathan says:

            I found the accents too much really, but I’ve found that other people don’t have as much of a problem with this as me. I find it best if the accents are a bit muted, i.e. not too broad. I can understand them wanting to use accents to indicate class, career, personality type etc but i find it best if it’s done with more subtlety.

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  5. Lisa Hill says:

    Yes, it’s available here in Australia too. But I’m afraid I don’t like it at all….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan says:

      I can understand that Lisa. I find it ok so far but it’s never going to compare with the original books.

      What is it that you don’t like? Personally, I wish they’d tone done the humour and even the accents a little. I’ve listened to two episodes now and I’ll continue with the rest.

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      • Lisa Hill says:

        #SoundingCurmudgeonly Those dubious sound effects and the accents grate, but for me, it’s the whole idea of Zola-lite. Next thing you know, they’ll be bringing out the series in 10 pages which people can read on their smartphones and pretend they know Zola…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jonathan says:

          I actually have a bit of an issue with most acting these days as it all seems a bit over the top. I think that’s why I’ve gone off films a bit just lately.

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          • Lisa Hill says:

            I find it hard to find a film that I want to see, and then sometimes they are a disappointment. The recent Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles just had to have a politically correct feminist central character which made parts of the film jar. I mean, Tess is a distinctively assertive young woman in the novel but they overdid it in the film which made it lack period credibility. I put it down to the creatives in the industry not having read very much and so not having a feel for the period.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jonathan says:

              I know, I’ve gone off a lot of period film/drama because they’re just modern people in oldie clothes. Anyone who doesn’t think like a modern person is immediately suspect and will be a baddie. I did like the recent Danish drama ‘1864’ though.

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        • Dagny says:

          I’m almost at the end of Part 2 now and coming around – sort of – to your way of thinking. Not that I hate it, still good to refresh on the story and remember, but the production itself is too melodramatic. I suspect they had to make it that way to appeal to the general public.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Dagny says:

      I’ve only listened to the first part and The Fortune of the Rougons is not one of my favorites among the books. I’m anxious to get a little further down the line.

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  6. Conrad says:

    I listened to the first episode last night. I found it okay I guess, they’ve accentuated the light bits a the expense of the novel’s more serious aspects in my opinion. The adaptation turned a tragedy (with lighter moments) into a tragi-comedy. Dropping all the fantastic descriptive prose is a negative (but probably unavoidable in such an adaptation). And turning Didi into some sort of mad, omniscient narrator leaves me uneasy.

    The second one is based on The Conquest of Plassans so I’ll give that a listen tonight. Unfortunately I’m only up to Abbe Mouret’s Transgression (I’m reading in published order so I’m only 5 books in) so I’ll probably have to avoid the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan says:

      I agree that they’ve tried to turn it into a more humorous piece of work than Zola’s original. It’s not how I would have interpreted it but I think, in some sense it works.

      It might be best to avoid those you haven’t already read.

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      • Conrad says:

        Yeah, I’m not planning on listening to the ones adapted from the novels I haven’t read yet. It’d be easier if the BBC site listed what novel each episode was based on.

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        • Jonathan says:

          As far as I can tell the episodes relate to the books in the following way: #1 Fortune of the Rougons, #2 Conquest of Plassans, #3 Belly of Paris, #4 His Excellency, #5 L’Assommoir, #6&7 The Masterpiece, #8&9 La Bete Humaine.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Conrad says:

    Thanks, looks like I’ll only listen to the first three then.

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  8. Gill Price says:

    I’ve been following the series and I’m really enjoying it. The only Zola I’ve read is La Bete Humaine and Therese Raquin, so I’m not really sure how faithful it is to the novels. It’s clear from the series though that Zola has a really dim view of human nature. Most of the characters seem to be immoral, defective or deceitful in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dagny says:

      I’ve stopped listening. I didn’t make it through the third part. Then I skipped the 4th part since I wasn’t even that fond of the book. I was excited to get to part five since L’Assommoir is one of my all time favorite books. I gave up after 15 minutes. I just couldn’t take it any more. The reader and the accent didn’t sound a bit like Gervaise to me and it was actually beginning to ruin the book for me.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Yes, Zola’s not exactly a ‘feel good’ read. The BBC series is changing bits and switching them about but the core of the stories is reasonably faithful. I’ve just listened to episodes 3 & 4 and I’m finding them ok. There are things that I don’t like about it but it is an ‘adaption’ of his work.

      Things I don’t particularly like about it are: the regional accents, the injection of modern humour and the narrator conversing with the characters. Things I like about it are: the narrator Tante Dide (who rarely appears in the books), the mixing up of the novels and the attempt to tie the novels together as a more cohesive whole work.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sar says:

    Loved the first episode but have lost interest since. Sick of all the trailers on the BBC and of Glenda Jackson and ‘Wolves’ ‘My wolves’ ‘These wolves I gave birth to’ at some point in every subsequent episode! On the plus side it made me read up on Zola himself and that period of French history and I think I will just read the novels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jonathan says:

      Well Sar, if you feel like reading the novels then just dive in with one that appeals to you – don’t worry too much about the order at first.

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  10. Alan Clark says:

    Apart from Glenda Jackson the British accents simply don’t work. And I think the original title should have been maintained. Instead we have a generic title… for what? To get ‘sex’ up there and up front? Zola deserves better.

    Liked by 1 person

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