The Little House, ITV1 | TV reviews, news & interviews
The Little House, ITV1
Francesca Annis chills the blood as Elizabeth, the monstrous matriarch
I realise actors must be prepared to suffer for their art, but it was truly heroic of Francesca Annis to allow herself to be made up to resemble Cherie Blair after a bout of electro-convulsive therapy compounded by a facelift by Dr Mengele. In The Little House, Annis plays Elizabeth, the cold and controlling mother of Patrick (Rupert Evans, formerly King Richard IV in the hilarious royal soap The Palace).
Frederick and Elizabeth are the kind of people who give the middle classes a bad name, and not just because they wear Christmas-cracker hats and watch the Queen’s broadcast on Christmas Day. Evidently they have some sort of colonial background (Elizabeth boasts to Ruth about how she spent 14 hours in labour in a primitive hospital in Nairobi while giving birth to Patrick, which I guess must be the female equivalent of machismo), though while Frederick is merely tactless and clumsy, his wife is nosy, hostile and judgmental. She doesn’t approve of Ruth’s smoking. She tells her off for trying to put the silverware in the dishwasher. When the increasingly lonely and depressed Ruth slips out to meet her friend and fellow-schoolteacher Dave, trying to reconnect with the life she’s now cut off from, Elizabeth confronts her with the information that she has been seen going to a pub with “a man”. To add insult to injury, Ruth’s baby starts shrieking and bawling every time she picks him up, but he’s as good as gold when Mommy Dearest enfolds him in her bosom (Rupert Evans and Lucy Griffiths as Patrick and Ruth, pictured below).
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