By some strange turn of fate the new Classic Serial is Scoop, Evelyn Waugh's satire on the press (its ownership, practices and function). The story is simple. We are in the 1930s. A mighty newspaper proprietor, Lord Copper, believes wars are good for countries because they unite people against a known enemy. He is persuaded by a beautiful society hostess to send one of her social pets, John Boot, to report the war in far-off Ishmaelia. By mistake, another Boot, William, who writes the Daily Beast's nature notebook, is dispatched. William knows nothing of abroad or reporting. We understand that, like Voltaire's Candide, he will somehow come out of this mess quite well and make us laugh a lot. Jeremy Front has done a deft, sly adaptation, bringing out the brilliance of the characters. Sally Avens has cast it very well (Rory Kinnear as William and Stephen Critchlow as Corker are perfect, David Warner as Lord Copper is pluperfect) and directs it with panache. A better antidote to hysteria cannot be imagined.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 17th February 2009
The clatter of typewriter keys and a blast of jazz open this energetic dramatisation of Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel about journalism in the 1930s. William Boot (Rory Kinnear) is an unambitious countryside columnist who, by mistake, is sent to report on the civil unrest in the fictional African state of Ishmaelia.
Once there, Boot meets Corker, a roguish news agency reporter - and owner of a treasured collection of Bakerlite elephants - who initiates Boot in the 'dark arts of Fleet Street'.
This production works hard to include as many of Waugh's wonderfully insane characters as possible, from the star correspondents who file moving accounts about uprisings that have never happened, to the African president who sends the hacks on a wild goose chase to a non-existent town. And the most ludicrous location? Popotakis's Ping-Pong Parlour.Jacqueline Wheeler, Radio Times, 15th February 2009
The new Classic Serial is Evelyn Waugh's abidingly comic novel, adapted by clever Jeremy Front (who, among many other things, also does the Charles Paris mysteries on this network). Rory Kinnear plays William Boot, an obscure young country scribe mistaken by mighty newspaper publisher Lord Copper (David Warner) for urbane and experienced reporter John Boot and sent off to report on a war in far-off Ishmaelia. Boot, often thought to resemble the great Bill Deedes in his early days on Fleet Street, flounders out of his depth, gets much wrong but, in the wicked world which surrounds him, somehow shines through.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 13th February 2009