The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Orczy's frequently filmed adventure novel The Scarlet Pimpernel has been the subject of two different British TV series, the second of which aired nearly half a century after the first. Debuting on BBC1 on January 24, 1999, the "new" Scarlet Pimpernel was, like its predecessor, set during the dark days of the French Revolution. The estimable Richard E. Grant starred as Sir Percy Blakeney, an insufferably haughty British dandy. Unbeknownst to virtually everyone (including his wife, Marguerite, played by American actress Elizabeth McGoven), Sir Percy spent his evenings in the guise of the dashing, fearless Scarlet Pimpernel, savior of many French noblepersons who would otherwise have been condemned to the guillotine by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Together with a small band of confederates, the "damn'd elusive Pimpernel" enjoyed nothing more than thoroughly confounding his perennial nemesis, the skulking Citizen Chauvelin (Martin Shaw). Though played with tongue firmly in cheek, the series boasted some pretty impressive fencing sequences, staged by the talented Terry Walsh. Six 90-minute episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel were seen in Britain in weekly clusters of three each, the last one airing on November 1, 2000. The series was produced in association with the American A&E cable channel, which ran the six episodes on a monthly rather than weekly basis.