Andrew Davies agreed to critique half a dozen of the works he had adapted for screen:
Vanity Fair (A&E, 1998)
Middlemarch (PBS, 1994)
"It's a huge book. I remember thinking it was like trying to get an elephant into a suitcase, there was so much plot. It was difficult but mostly a pleasure. I had battles with Anthony Page, who directed it. He's principally a theater director and he has tremendous respect for the word, so he'd say, 'Oh, you must have all this passage in,' and I'd say, 'No, we can do that with a single look.' It seemed to be the wrong way round."
The Way We Live Now (BBC, 2001)
"I wrote it around the time the dot-com bubble was bursting. It was this idea of people pouring money into the stock market. I was also thinking of Robert Maxwell, which wasn't strictly contemporary. Also I slipped in a bit of homage to the film 'Wall Street' -- 'greed is good.' "
Moll Flanders (PBS, 1996)
"I finally decided I was going to take big liberties with the book. It's so crammed with incidents, you're not going to get them all in. So it was a case of choosing aspects of the book, or little plot lines. In the book, Moll teams up for quite a while with a woman pickpocket and they get close. I thought it would be fun after all her affairs if she had one with a woman. It was sort of liberating and good fun. But the love affair with this woman wasn't in the book. You couldn't risk it with Jane Austen, because there are so many Austen purists, and they'd be banging on my door. There aren't so many Defoe purists."
Pride and Prejudice (A&E, 1995)
"I wanted to make the spine of the story about sex and money, about Darcy's sexual desire for Elizabeth Bennet. Which is what it is. I don't think we were doing anything that's not in the book. It wasn't just about stuffed shirts standing around making polite conversation. There were lots of opportunities for piercing glances, but we also wanted to remind viewers that these characters had bodies. So for the girls, we put in a lot of backstage scenes where they talked about the meaning of life in their nighties. For the boys, lots of strenuous swimming and sweating and horse-riding."
Bridget Jones's Diary (feature film, 2001)
"Helen Fielding, who wrote the novel, was the first writer. When I got her script it was very funny, like the book, but it still hadn't decided what it was. The book is a diary of a whole year, and it didn't have much shape. In meetings, I argued strongly that it should be a romantic comedy. It's loosely based on 'Pride and Prejudice' and ought to be more like 'Pride and Prejudice' in its rhythms. Mark ought to be more like Mr. Darcy and we should work toward a conclusion between two people who see themselves as antagonists. [The production company] Working Title wanted more of a structure. But by the time Richard Curtis had done his polish -- he stripped the dialogue off, left the structure -- very few lines in the script were mine. But I didn't mind by that time. I spent time working with [Fielding], which was enjoyable. So we did a fair bit of drinking Chardonnay, hanging out and laughing."