The Secret Garden BBC - Cult TV Review

There have been many adaptations of The Secret Garden, but the Agnieszka Holland directed film from 1993 starring Kate Maberly and Dame Maggie Smith with music by one of my favourite composers, Zbigniew Preisner, is the high watermark for adaptations. I have, however, heard much praise heaped on the BBC children's TV series and so I thought I'd better check it out.

The story is a classic and tells the tale of young Mary Lennox, the spoilt girl from India, who comes to live in a big, remote house in Yorkshire when her parents pass away from cholera. She is taken under the guardianship of a distant uncle who doesn't seem to have time for her. For Mary the house contains many mysteries including the sounds of someone crying at night and tales of a secret garden contained on the grounds. Over the course of several months Mary solves these mysterious and brings warmth and light into the dark, dank manor house.

The series first aired from January to March 1975 and was very popular in its day. As expected from the BBC the period detail is spot on and the charm is there with an impressive performance from the cast all round, especially the lead Sarah Hollis Andrews. She adds a layer of characterisation and sympathy to her initially spoilt Mary Lennox, so you can see her character grow and mature over the course of the episodes.

During the 7 episodes, weighing in at 200 minutes,  Frances Hodgson Burnett's story is allowed to breath and come to life in a most pleasing way. The story is told at a slow deliberate pace and this allows you to appreciate the acting performances, cinematography and delightful musical score, which complements the whole work and brings it all together. As someone who has never seen the series and thus holds no nostalgia I can say that The Secret Garden is well worth a watch; it's a calm relaxing programme that is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is a great story to read and a wonderful story to watch on this DVD.