What makes this three-part Masterpiece Theatre effort more interesting than most of this series’ run of Brit-lit adaptations is The Real Charlotte’s accent — it’s set in Victorian Ireland — and its demeanor, which is much more sly and randy than Alistair Cooke usually permits.
The Real Charlotte is based on a novel written at the turn of the century by Edith Somerville and Martin Ross — Ross being the pseudonym of Violet Martin, who cowrote 13 books with Somerville. Charlotte is Charlotte Mullen (Jeananne Crowley), a middle-aged rural housekeeper who agrees to be the guardian of her teenage cousin Francie (Joanna Roth).
Charlotte seems to be simple, coarse, and honest; in fact, the “real” Charlotte is clever, adroit, and scheming. She plots to marry off Francie to Christopher Dysart (Robin Lermitte), heir to a vast estate, and move in with them. But Francie prefers Dysart’s land agent (Patrick Bergin), not knowing that Charlotte has set her own cap for that poor fellow.
Intricately plotted, cheerfully lusty, and a little too slow, The Real Charlotte is not a great comedy of bad manners, but it’s a pleasant diversion. B