(TV Series)

(1967)

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9/10
Shall I Eat You Now?
blacknorth21 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was delighted to find this episode of ITV's Armchair Theatre was, in fact, an early version of Ernest Gebler's novel, Shall I Eat You Now? and the later Peter Sellers film vehicle, Hoffman.

The short version of the plot is that Hoffman (Pleasance) blackmails 'typist second-class' Miss Smith (Cornwell) into spending a week in his apartment, all mod cons and more. Miss Smith comes to appreciate Hoffmann and the cultural world he opens for her. But the exchange isn't all one-way...

Donald Pleasance and Judy Cornwell are a less attractive and therefore more satisfactory couple than Sellers and Sinead Cusack. Pleasance is more energetic, less vulgar and rather more creepy in this incarnation of Gebler's romantic misanthrope Hoffman. Cornwell strikes a common note with her broad accent and peaked cap - she is not at all dainty and this likens her experience to disappointment. She's quite lovely in her way, and wants fetching from the village, as Hoffman does, to claim the wedding night privileges of a feudal lord.

In one lovely scene they discuss the meaning of a Beckett play they've just seen and how it relates to their own 'cultural exchange'.

As a cry of frustration and help from unmarried middle-aged men, it's quite an effective sort of revenge fantasy, almost auto-suggestion, as Hoffman says. I loved it, and the performances by Pleasance and Cornwell are superb.

This episode of Armchair Theatre demonstrates why it remained such a long-running and seminal drama anthology series. One hopes the single play will make a return to television soon.
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