Romance is dead – and to prove it, some of the nation’s favourite love stories have been re-worked for the digital age with gratuitous references to Tinder, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles have all been given a so-called ‘digital makeover’ by Austen expert Professor John Sutherland
In the new take on Austen’s classic romance, Elizabeth Bennet mistakenly tags Mr Darcy in a surreptitious photo taken when our hero emerges from the lake (which, lest we forget, doesn’t actually happen in Austen’s novel, just in the Colin Firth BBC adaptation), resulting in ‘a Twitter storm of epic proportions.’ Wuthering Heights features Heathcliff participating in a Twitter poll while Tess of the d’Urbervilles sees Angel Clare ignoring Tess as a match on Tinder.
The new ‘novels,’ created by TV channel Drama to mark their Romantic Sundays season, also boast Mills and Boon-esque illustrated covers updated with iPhones and selfie sticks.
Before you start losing all faith in humanity, we should point out that these re-imaginings haven’t just been commissioned because people think they’re a good idea: instead, by pinpointing how truly godawful Heathcliff with hashtags would be, they’re supposed to highlight how technology is sapping all the romance from modern life. Not that we weren’t already painfully aware of that…
Netflix's deep-dive into the personal conflicts, political intrigues and public controversies of Queen Elizabeth II's reign is the streaming service's most expensive original drama to date. Luckily, every penny of The Crown's rumoured £100 million budget appears to have paid off. Claire Foy gives a brilliant, sympathetic performance as Elizabeth, nailing the plummy vowels and poise of the monarch without descending into caricature - but it's Vanessa Kirby's Princess Margaret (and her controversial romance with a divorcé) that will have you gripped.
‘Even though we’re certainly a nation that uses modern technology to communicate, by inserting these devices and methods of communication into a series of classic romances – themselves believed to be some of the most romantic novels according to the nation – highlights just how much they can interrupt a romantic mood,’ says Sutherland. ‘A Mr Darcy obsessed with digital media and a Heathcliff that spent his time hashtagging or checking his emails certainly wouldn’t be identified as the romantic heroes we still think of today.’ Well, quite. If you need us, we’ll be chain-watching BBC adaptations in a darkened room.
Romantic Sundays starts on Drama on 11th February.