Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

TV: Reader, writer, co-star, director… Romance is a labour of love for Emily Mortimer

© PA Photo/ Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited/Robert ViglaskyEmily Beecham and Lily James in The Pursuit Of Love, directed by Emily Mortimer
Emily Beecham and Lily James in The Pursuit Of Love, directed by Emily Mortimer

The Pursuit Of Love is something of a labour of love for Emily Mortimer. Not only does she take a supporting role as The Bolter (so named because of her habit of leaving her husbands), but the actress also directed the series and adapted the screenplay from the classic novel by Nancy Mitford.

So, it may come as a bit of a surprise that she didn’t originally come up with the idea of bringing the book (which has previously been filmed in 1980 and 2001) to the screen. It was actually her agent who secured the rights and asked if Emily would be interested in writing the script.

However, she admits she didn’t need much persuading to take on the project, as she’d first read the book as a teenager.

Emily said: “When my agent asked me if I’d have a go at adapting it, I said yes immediately. I re-read the book and immediately thought yes even more.

“The experience of reading the novel is just as exciting in this day and age and the book still feels quite shocking and radical. It’s quite bracing and liberating to read, which is amazing as it was written in 1945. It is full of love and romance but it has an edge. To me, it felt cool and it feels like there is a place for this now.”

Some of that energy comes from a great cast, led by Lily James as the impetuous Linda Radlett. Lily said: “Linda is free-spirited, passionate, impulsive, fiery, frustrating, selfish. Linda really follows her heart and gut. The choices she makes at times feel harsh and quite brutal but I instinctively feel I understand her and love her deeply.”

As the story begins, Linda and her beloved cousin Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) are impatient to escape the family seat of Alconleigh. Linda, who has grown up under the terrifying regime of her father, known as Uncle Matthew (Dominic West), wants romance and adventure while Fanny longs for stability and security.

When the Radletts’ neighbour Lord Merlin (Andrew Scott) brings Tony Kroesig (Freddie Fox) to their coming-out ball, it seems Linda’s dreams of romance are coming true. Unfortunately, Fanny has her doubts about the match, creating a distance between the cousins.

Emily, who began filming during the pandemic, thinks the last year of lockdown will give the three-part drama, which began in the 1920s and ends during the Second World War, a new resonance for today’s audiences.

She said: “There is something about this story being set between the wars, at a time when life was very fragile and everyone was living like there was no tomorrow. Our generation hasn’t had that experience of life in such an intense way.”


The Pursuit Of Love, BBC1, Sunday, 9pm. Episode one is on iPlayer now.