Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)
If you have ever regarded the life of an actor to be a glamorous one, it would have been something of an eye-opener to have visited the location of the BBC Television film of 'Silas Marner' on a cold March day. The day had followed one of almost continuous rain, and I have never seen such mud, nor so much of it. The setting was in the Cotswolds, chosen because this area remains one of the last almost totally unspoilt regions in England. The production team, eager to be as authentic as possible, had travelled the length and breadth of George Eliot's own North Warwickshire but nothing remotely resembling early nineteenth century Raveloe could be found. The Cotswolds, however, yielded up a 'stone cottage that stood among the nutty hedgerows' (Chap. 0; or, at least, three stone walls and a pile of rubble. The BBC set to and rebuilt the cottage, and now it as nearly as possible resembled Silas's home on the edge of the village of Raveloe. The cottage is a single room with a bed, a table by the window on which lies a dish of vegetables ready for the pot, two cupboards, a stone fireplace with a cheerily burning fire, and two other features without which this could not possibly be the setting for George Eliot's tale - the 'toal-hole' and the large loom on which Silas earned his. gold pieces. The hole in the floor is there, too, from which Dunstan took the miser's treasure. The garden surrounding the cottage is wild and overgrown but for a vegetable patch where leeks and cabbages were 'growing'. Silas's washing hung on a washing line which was suspended between the trees, and in the cottage itself we met 'Silas', played by the very distinguished actor, Ben Kingsley. What a far cry from his recent famous portrayal of Gandhi!