The emergence of a dripping wet Colin Firth from the Pemberley lake at the end of the BBC’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 1995 is one of TV’s most iconic moments.
The scene, in which his soaking wet shirt clings to his shapely torso, continues to send viewers into a swoon, all these years later.
But on Wednesday night the drama’s adapter, Andrew Davies, revealed that the scene could have been so different because he was sceptical about casting Colin Firth in the first place. And the reason? His “fair to ginger colouring”.
“I was a bit doubtful about Colin at the time because of his colouring at the time,” Davies revealed at a platform discussion at the British Film Institute sponsored by Radio Times. “Because he didn’t have those dark curls back then.”
“Sue Birtwhistle [the producer] was absolutely convinced that he would be wonderful but we said that he had to go dark. And he did go dark and he stayed dark ever since. He must have liked the look. I think underneath all that he’s sort of fair to ginger.”
This disclosure was followed by gasps from the audience with Davies adding with a laugh: “You must not tell anybody.”
However, Davies did say that the scene is probably his favourite of all the moments he has written.
In a wide-ranging interview with journalist Rosie Millard, Davies discussed his long and successful career and revealed that he is working on a major adaption of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy for the BBC.
He also disclosed that one project he still wants to adapt is Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son which was lined up with the BBC but then rejected after Jane Tranter stood down as controller of BBC drama in 2008.
He added that he was regarded as a “pet” of the former BBC drama boss and when she left the Corporation everybody said they were “tired of old Davies and his adaptations,” said the writer.