Straight to the swoon
Charlotte Bronte 's novel Jane Eyre provides a title for BBC4's current series on romantic fiction, Reader, I Married Him, but it could also be entered as evidence in this week's new Radio 4 series, The Invention of Childhood (from Monday September 25 at 3.45pm). A good quarter of the book (10 chapters out of 38) is devoted to Jane's early life as an orphan in the Reed family and her experience as a border at Lowood School where her best friend, Helen Burns, dies of typhus. This is a story of childhood loneliness and survival, as well as a romance.
Or rather, it was until the BBC got its hands on it. This latest adaptation takes less than 20 minutes in the first episode to whisk the child Jane from the window seat at the Reeds' house to the road where, now already in her late teens, she frightens Mr Rochester's horse, giving the novel's romantic interest an undignified entrance as he tumbles into the mud. The school story has flashed by as quickly as a Victorian magic lantern show, with Burns hardly having time to reveal her sweet nature before we are staring at her grave. However, once the film does get to what it considers the real business, which is persuading plain Jane and rough-hewn Rochester to fall for one another, it slows to a normal narrative pace. In fact, it almost begins to drag; not much happens during the next 40 minutes and you might even start to wish for a bit more of the magic lantern.
Nevertheless, Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens are effective as pert governess and dour master and on the whole you could not ask for a better illustration of the maxim that every literary adaptation is just one possible reading.
Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial BBC2, Monday, September 25, 9-10pm
This drama-documentary uses the transcripts of the trials and other records, as well as archive film and the testimony of eye-witnesses, to present the case against three of the leading Nazi defendants at Nuremberg: Albert Speer, Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess. It raises a number of questions, both about the psychology of the three men and about the right of the victors to judge those whom they have defeated. Even so, 60 years later, the idea that it is possible to commit "war crimes" has become an established fact of international jurisprudence and it is good to be reminded of where and how that started.
History Through the Ears BBC Radio 3, Sunday, September 24, 9.30-10.15pm
This is a busy year for anniversaries and tonight, though not in too nostalgic a mood, the BBC recalls the creation, 60 years ago, of the Third Programme. What interests Sir Christopher Frayling is the change in our listening habits over that time, our increased desire for perfect sounds and, conversely, our loss of focus in a world where we are constantly bombarded with music and Muzak. Milton imagined heaven as a place where the angels sing constantly. We have reached a place much like that, but is it heaven?
Hungary Night BBC Radio 3, Thursday, September 28, 7.30-10.15pm
Kirsty Lang presents an evening of talks and music to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising; participants and witnesses remember the events and the mass emigration that followed, looking particularly at the influence of Hungarian artists and intellectuals on British culture.
Now Hungary is part of the EC and Budapest a popular tourist destination, here is an opportunity to be reminded of a key moment in its recent history.