Esther Dean on how costume brings out a character


I think when we were talking about Hard Times, I don’t know if it was the same for Jewel, but you used costume as a way of placing someone in terms of time and perhaps their background, but also their position as a character, or how they felt.

I always used to feel that the clothes reflected whatever was happening to them. You were building up. So when somebody sees the character when they first come through the door, you actually help the viewer to work out what this person is about, what they are, how they are. I know I had a terrible time with Hard Times. They re-jigged the order. There were four episodes. It was episode three; it was the death of the heroine’s mother, Gradgrind’s wife. They changed the order of when it happened chiefly because of the advertising breaks so that that death happened on an advertising break. But of course it made total nonsense of the continuity of the story. It’s when Edward Fox sort of rapes her. I said, “You realise that is now happening two days after her mother has died?” And in Victorian times if somebody’s mother dies they should be in deepest black. And it doesn’t make sense. And there was a whole subplot that made absolute nonsense of it. But everybody told me to shut up. We got round the black by putting her in grey. But often I would be the person who would have to point out that sort of thing because nobody else would have thought about it. And they mostly used to get quite cross with me if I did point it out. But actually if you watch the third episode of Hard Times, the continuity, time-wise, of half the story, does not hang together. I think I was the only person who would notice it.

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