The Mapp and Lucia we’ll never see

No happy returns: Steve Pemberton, it seems, has not been asked to write another series

Although no one has received any official confirmation from the BBC, it does look as if another series of Mapp and Lucia will not be made. Dame Rumour, if she is reliable, says that Steve Pemberton has not been asked to write another series. However, does that mean someone else is to be asked? Anyone with further knowledge must let us know.

It is said the viewing numbers declined over the three episodes, but many feel the scheduling was wrong. Three weekly showings would have been better, and in January, rather than in the busy Christmas and New Year period. Strangely enough, a lot of people have other activities on New Year’s Eve! I do not think enough thought was given to when to broadcast it. It was rather thrown away.

This is rather sad, because whatever our views on the three episodes, it has brought people to the Mapp and Lucia books by EF Benson and also to Rye. There are many scenes, which although filmed or created, were not used. These include Quaint Irene’s studio, and her infamous painting of Adam, modelled by Hopkins the fishmonger. And the post box, which I felt was to be used for the incident from Miss Mapp in which the Captain (who did not appear in the series) and the Major discover Miss Mapp going to post a letter – or so she claims – but that it has no stamp on it.

However, the series is bringing people to Rye and local resident Oliver Campion has produced a virtual Mapp and Lucia’s Tour of Rye. This will be good publicity for the town. Many people have also shown interest in my own guided walks and several tour groups have “booked in” – which shows just how beautiful Rye looked and also just how many people did enjoy the production.

Sadly we shall never see Lucia’s move to her new home Grebe and, most dramatic of all, we shall not see the great flood. I well remember when Prunella Scales spoke to us about the Channel 4 series, and her advice that should any of us be in the same position as Mapp and Lucia, not to rely for survival on an upturned table. In that filming, the table needed eight oil drums carefully tied beneath to get it to float! I was looking forward to seeing how it would be done this time. This we are all denied.

We shall not see that wonderful scene when Miss Mapp invites them all to dinner at the end of the book and produces Lobster a la Riseholme. Only then do they all know why Mapp was in Lucia’s kitchen. Had Steve Pemberton gone further and dramatised the other books, we would have seen how he showed Lucia’s venture on to the Stock Exchange with the Siriami shares and how Mammoncash, her stockbroker, usually followed her advice. We would have witnessed Lucia became mayor, and then the introduction of Poppy Sheffield, played by Irene Handl in the Channel 4 series, and the return of prima donna Olga Bracely.

We shall never know how this all would have been portrayed and whether we felt it was true to the original, or changed but still keeping the feel of the books. We shall not see our friends back as extras and enjoy spotting them busy shopping, looking in windows or watching the scene being acted out before them. Might some of us, like our heroines, be feeling all washed up?

Photo: BBC. Allan Downend is secretary of the EF Benson Society