A BRONTËLAND icon has blasted the BBC’s Christmas movie about the Brontës.
Author and broadcaster Peggy Hewitt said she could not recognise the real Brontë family members from their fictional versions in To Walk Invisible.
She criticised screenwriter Sally Wainwright’s efforts – much praised by Brontë enthusiasts and local councillors – to portray the Brontë story as gritty reality rather than chocolate box nostalgia.
Peggy Hewitt wrote These Lonely Mountains, widely regarded as the definitive book about the Haworth moors and their links to the Brontës, in the 1980s.
She went on to become a successful TV, radio and children’s book writer, and These Lonely Mountains was republished in 2004 and last year as Brontë Country: Lives and Landscape.
A life member of the Brontë Society, Peggy currently lives close to her family in Scotland but says her “heart and soul” belong to the Brontë moors.
Like millions of viewers Peggy sat down to watch To Walk Invisible, filmed last summer at Haworth locations, during the Christmas break.
She said “When Sally Wainwright described the Brontës as the 'ultimate dysfunctional family' it was clear what we were in for, but even so To Walk Invisible was a shock.”
Peggy was also displeased with Charlotte’s portrayal in the film as a woman with a “constant pinched mean look”.
She said: “I wondered how Ellen Nussey, a welcome streak of life in this film, could have formed a close relationship with this apparently dried-up woman.
“Emily was a free spirit, but why did she have to look like a corpse? The true genius of the family, her rapport with Branwell came a bit late in the film.
“And what about that moment on the moors when Emily was reading her sublime poems to Anne? It could have been very moving, but background mood music was far too loud.”
Peggy accepted the Brontë family did suffer, with no mother and coping with their brother’s problems, but added: “Branwell was vastly overplayed.
“No doubt they had their ups and downs, as families do, but this bound them together, not sundered them, as appeared in the film.
“The Brontës were, against all odds, a brave family, a functional family, and the real story is as fascinating as any of their books.”
Peggy also slammed the “mild and ineffectual” screen version of the writers’ father, the Rev Patrick Brontë, who she claimed was a fiery Irishman, Cambridge graduate, forward-looking social reformer and keen supporter of his children.