Howards End

Slim pickings on TV most nights, but that makes the exceptions even more valuable. The BBC series of Howards End, on four successive Sundays, has been a real treat. It's partly that the extra allowance of time gives room for development and subtlety. There's not the sense of pressure that you often get as a 300 page novel is rammed into 120 minutes of screen time. The acting's been terrific, especially of the Schlegel siblings, but there's also the intelligence of the script. After You Can Count on Me and Manchester by the Sea Kenneth Lonergan was already one of my favourite people in film, but here he's brilliantly self-effacing. He's quoted as saying that 75% of the script is pure Forster, but it's a very carefully selected 75%. Last time I read Howards End I found it much heavier going than watching this series. And the remaining 25% is impossible to spot - it feels smooth and seamless, but never shallow. Then there's those trademark Lonergan moments, where characters are filmed at social events talking to each other, and you can't hear what they're saying but you know exactly what is going on. Sheer magic.