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A Year In Provence

A Year In ProvenceThe ambiance of the lovely French
  countryside pervades the BBC series
  A Year In Provence, adapted from Peter
  Mayle
s critically-acclaimed novel of the
  same name and now available on DVD...


IF THE LURE OF FRANCE is too much for you to resist and your dream is to buy a home there — or even if you're just curious about ex-pats living in France, you'll want to watch the DVD of the delightfully amusing television series A Year In Provence — even though, for the Mayles, it's not all plain sailing.

The eagerly-awaited DVD release from Second Sight of Peter Mayle's A Year In Provence, which follows Peter Mayle (the superb John Thaw: Inspector Morse, The Sweeney, Kavanagh QC) and his wife Annie (Lindsay Duncan: Oliver Twist, Mansfield Park, Rome) as they up-sticks from their London home and jobs to swap the rat-race and the bright lights of Britain's capital for the peace and quiet of the idyllic French countryside with the joys of rural life, great food, fine wines and sun. Or so they think…

In the early days, it seems too perfect. A leaflet is pushed under the Mayle's car windscreen wiper offering them an opportunity to "come and push back the frontiers of pleasure" at the restaurant Chez Raymond. And so they begin their New Year with a gastronomic lunch and a drive home to a romantic 200-year-old solid stone farmhouse standing alone in the vines — through part of the 27,000 acres that is their own back garden.

However, they have yet to face the mistral winds that are reputed to "whip the ears off a donkey"; the frozen pipes and the installation of central heating that seems to take forever as the workers — led by the laid-back Colombani (Jean-Pierre Delage) — habitually fail to turn up. One comic situation follows another as the Mayles brave the wiles of French country living

Visiting the neighbours to borrow candles following a power cut is an occasion to test the language barrier; truffles seem to cause an awful lot of hassle and the open invitation they thought they'd issued to one couple is taken up by four and a mother-in-law — the irritating Tony Havens (Alfred Molina), a friend of a friend who wants to buy a house locally, and his girlfriend Marion Hart-Bowers (Catherine Rabett); architect Ted Hopkins (Jim Carter) and his wife Susan (Susie Blake); lawyer Ralph Tompkins (Geoffrey Hutchings) with his wife Libby (Maggie Steed) and her mother Mrs Robinson (the fabulous Edna Dore); Hugo Compton (James Fleet) and his wife Topsy (Mary Maddox).

In fact, every morning the Mayles are woken up by a succession of colourful characters who constantly interrupt their plans for a quiet life. Then there is the drama of the supposed black magic curse and the tantalising secret of the local bar. What happened to the missing letterbox and how can they quieten a cock called Charlemagne? As the Mayles struggle to adapt to their rural surroundings, each step is a lesson learned and Annie eventually resorts to subterfuge.

Balancing the problems are the views, the majestic ruins, charming villages and acres of lush green French countryside, learning to make wine and Annie finding a natural aptitude for Boules when Clive Parrott (Frank Middlemass) teaches her. Annie and Peter also get involved with saving the local school and also the marriage of the local baker Roger Godin (Bernard Malaterre) and his beautiful wife Angelique (the superb Mireille Chaulet).

Filmed entirely in the South of France, A Year In Provence features a superb supporting French cast, including Tim Preece as Harry Bryden; the marvellous Annie Sinigalia as chic Parisienne Madame Evelyn Hermonville; Bernard Spiegel as postman Marcel; Marcel Champel as Antoinne Rivère; Robert Ripa as the Mayor and a terrific portrayal from Jo Doumerg as neighbouring farmer Amédée. The screenplay is by Michael Sadler and A Year In Provence is Produced by Ken Riddington and Directed by David Tucker. The music is composed by Carl Davis.

Subtly comical, entertaining and visual, A Year In Provence is a great adaptation of Peter Mayle's critically-acclaimed book of the same name — a hugely popular BBC series that is not only a piece of television history but is also a fascinating day-to-day account of the ups and downs of Brits living abroad.

Originally aired to an audience of 14.5 million, the long sought-after re-release of A Year In Provence will amuse and entertain both young and old as Annie and Peter gradually get drawn into French country life.

A Year In Provence is now available on DVD (released on 21 July, 2008) at an RRP of £15.99.

"Subtly comical, entertaining and visual, A Year In Provence is a great adaptation of Peter Mayle's critically-acclaimed book of the same name — a hugely popular BBC series that is not only a piece of television history but is also a fascinating day-to-day account of the ups and downs of Brits living abroad" — MotorBar