Based on the brilliant but little-known Evelyn Waugh 1928 novel, Decline and Fall hilariously follows the misadventures of a young divinity student, Paul Pennyfeather (Jack Whitehall). After being expelled from Oxford, he’s forced to take a teaching position at sub-standard boarding school in Wales, where he meets an array of fabulously eccentric characters including a jovial alcoholic bigamist and the wealthy, fun-loving mother (Eva Longoria) of a student, with whom he falls in love. To say too much more invites spoilers, though his later superbly comic travails involve white slavery and a stint in prison – all through no fault of his own! Waugh was a brilliant writer, and the book is full of cruel satire and memorable caricature. But while he was side-splittingly funny, his wit was also brittle and savage. This 3-part adaption, which aired recently on BBC-First, keeps the comedy but tones down that venom a notch. Which is just as well – so caustic were his views on the “elites” that today he’d probably be prosecuted for hate-speech! MA15+ on DVD from Sept 9.
View the trailer here
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