Jane Eyre (1997) ***1/2

This version has several things to, on the surface, recommend it – Samantha Morton, fresh from Band of Gold and before her Hollywood successes, plays Jane Eyre with sincerity and real feeling. We can understand her motivation and empathise with her position.

Even though short, this adaptation manages to stay fairly close to the book, although, like most versions, takes liberty with the dialogue and settings. Gemma Jones is a good Mrs Fairfax, and Timea Berthome is a sweet little Adele.

But … Ciaran Hinds as Rochester! No, no, no. Aside from the Santana moustache, his acting is overplayed and just wrong for the part, proving laughable in places. The kissing scenes are too ridiculous for words and only highlight the lack of chemistry between him and Morton, far from suggesting the latent passion we should see between hero and heroine in this complicated tale.

His casting is a major misfire for me, and damages the fabric of an otherwise solid TV version. Not unwatchable, but disappointing.