I recall studying J.B.Priestley’s An Inspector Calls scrupulously for my English GCSE exam almost 2 years ago, and being one of the few people in my class who actually enjoyed reading through it. I loved how the themes were so easily applicable even today. Young vs Old, Rich vs Poor, Responsibility and Class are all still subjects heavily focused on in today’s society. All of these rich themes, then elegantly mixed in with the supernatural element of Inspector Goole made this play something for anyone to enjoy. Whilst studying this play, I remember how our English teacher showed us a black and white version of Priestley’s play, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. He said that we could watch it in black and white and it’d be good, or we could watch it in colour and it’d be bad. The choice was pretty simple. He was of course saying that because there had been no worthwhile renditions of An Inspector Calls produced in colour; well, now I believe that has changed.
BBC One’s new adaption of Priestley’s play is, in short, excellent. However, I must admit that if you are not a fan of the source material then you will probably not enjoy this. You would have probably seen this as socialist drivel. Whilst I cannot disagree with the socialist aspect, as it is undoubtedly a key theme of the piece, I would wholeheartedly disagree that this adaption is drivel.
This new rendition is brilliantly performed by an excellent cast, spearheaded by David Thewlis playing the mysterious Inspector Goole. Thewlis played Goole exactly how I had imagined him when reading the play; enigmatic, commanding, and unforgiving. Although my favourite performance has to come from Miranda Richardson, who played the cold-hearted, smug Mrs Birling to perfection. Another standout performance for me was Finn Cole as young Eric Birling. His performance, from start to finish, was captivating, especially during the scene in which the Inspector is questioning him.
I particularly enjoyed how writer Helen Edmundson used flashbacks to show how the Birling family interacted with their collective victim, Eva Smith. This I believe was a positive and appealing change from Priestley’s original play. It can be tedious to watch all the action take place in one dining room, so it was pleasant to see other settings.
To conclude, I believe the BBC’s An Inspector Calls is a resounding success due to exceptional performances from the cast, and because of how well they stuck to Priestley’s (in my opinion) timeless play, and didn’t shy away from any of the important themes.