Pink XII: Dream Casting

This post was written by Miss Eliza.

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I seem to start every dream casting post with stating that whatever character I’m currently casting is the hardest. While obviously they couldn’t all be the hardest, that would be impossible, some are trickier than others. There is that rare synchronicity that makes the planets align perfectly, but the truth is each character has proved difficult in their own special way. Eloise is hard in that she is the reader’s conduit into the book. She is basically us, to some extent. But she is also very much Lauren. So my problem is who should play her if I basically see her as Lauren? Maybe we should be asking Lauren who she would choose to play her in her life story? Because that’s basically what casting Eloise is, casting the fictional Lauren. Before I started seeing Eloise so much as Lauren I was trying out any red-headed actress I could think of, even those that could convincingly be red-heads. There was Alexis Bledel (did I mention I was going through a Gilmore Girls phase when I started these books?) Then there was Laura Prepon followed by Lauren Ambrose, Amy Adams followed by Isla Fisher. The complete Titian haired line-up was presented to me and all found to be lacking. Until now! Re-reading the books I was struck by Eloise’s sense of humor and her clumsiness. Of course said clumsiness could be written off because of inappropriate footwear, but the fact still remains that she’s quite likely to fall into Colin’s arms, literally, not that that’s a bad place to be. And that’s when I thought, wait a minute, what about Ellie Kemper? Most of you probably know her from Bridesmaids, as the unhappily married mouse in the wedding party, but I know her as the unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. For some reason, she’s it. She’s Eloise. And I totally think she’s game to wear a Regency dress to a Halloween party and take on spies, modern of historical, with the best of them.

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As for her better half? They are after all soon to be man and wife! Sqwee! Well, for the longest time I had pictured Colin Selwick as Raymond Coulthard, the actor who played Frank Churchill in the Kate Beckinsale adaptation of Emma. But given the fact that he is now in his late forties I thought it might be time to recast… But more than age, because as you will see later age doesn’t always enter into it, it’s his recent roles on shows like Mr. Selfridge that made me realize he wasn’t the one. So who was THE ONE? Well, oddly enough it related to the casting of Richard Selwick. While re-reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation I was thinking that Richard could also easily be played by that most wondrous of actors, JJ Feild, he does look so fetching in Regency garb, watch Austenland and Northanger Abbey for obvious proof. But because I had so clear a vision of his Northanger Abbey co-star Felicity Jones as Amy, well, I couldn’t quite repeat this casting and maintain my cred as a good dream casting agent now could I? So I ignored my desire to cast him as Richard and while re-reading the books for Pink for All Seasons I realized that he had become Colin. He was tromping round the Selwick Hall property with a nice green quilted jacket on and a jaunty hat; for some reason that jaunty flat cap, the kind that snaps in the front, was key to my image of JJ as Colin. The sweaters Eloise could bury her face in cloaked his body. JJ is Colin. Also, I will admit that maybe while watching Outlander and how they decided to have Tobias Menzies play both Jack and Frank Randall, that the idea to have my “Richard Casting” move to the present might have been sparked. We could also have JJ play both Selwicks… Double the JJ double the fun?

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And seeing as this is a super-sized dream casting session, let’s get to that other “historical” couple, one of whom has been waiting a damn long time to be cast, and no, I’m not talking about you Jack, sheesh. Jane Wooliston. The Pink Carnation herself! The problem with trying to cast Jane prior to reading The Lure of the Moonflower was that I had no insight into her. She, like her nom du guerre, was thwarting me as much as she was the French. I only had her appearance to go on really, which just had to be the societal standard of beauty really. Oh, and her deeds thwarting the French. As a placeholder I had the actress Paloma Baeza who was demure and beautiful in The Way We Live Now and a rebellious in the 1998 adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd. She was generic enough that she could be Jane till I learned more about her character. Reading Jane’s story I realized the role needed to be played by an actress with depth. Someone who could be hurt but also cover up that hurt; a woman capable of great feats in the face of insurmountable odds. That is when I thought of Hayley Atwell and Agent Carter. Yes, it might seem odd to think of a more modern special agent, but look how Agent Carter and the Pink Carnation are similar! They are both women kicking ass and taking names in a male dominated field. Plus, let us not forget that Hayley Atwell did not start out as Agent Carter, oh no, she had years and years in period dramas to give her the cred I require of all my casting choices. Plus, as Mary Crawford in the 2007 adaptation of Mansfield Park, aka the only recent one I will acknowledge, she showed that she can totally pull off the look, if not the manners, of a Regency lady of fashion. I give you Hayley Atwell, the Pink Carnation

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And now for the Moonflower, see Jack, you only had to wait a paragraph! The thing with Jack is we all know he’s based on Harrison Ford. So I needed to find the British equivalent of Han Solo, and sadly the casting has yet to be completed on that young Han Solo spin-off film. Though I’m guessing even if it was I would strongly disagree. Because that, that is how I role. Plus who could actually play a young Harrison Ford convincingly? I don’t think it’s possible. Back to finding my British Han… so there’s many actors who I have come up with their equivalent across the water. Seth Green has Tom Hollander, John Cusack has Matthew Macfadyen, and to my mind, Harrison Ford has Toby Stephens. Yes, I put forth Toby Stephens as my casting for Jack Reid, mainly because he can call me “Princess” any day. Yes, I know he might be on the older side, but the fact of the matter is I’ve always viewed him as a Reid. He has the red hair, the roguish grin, how could he not be a Reid? Knowing, as I did when re-reading The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that Toby Stephens was going to be my Jack, I toyed with the idea of instead casting him as Reid the elder, aka Jack’s father William. I knew he was too old for Jack, but he’s too young for William, and I wanted to appease my audience. In the end I just accepted that perhaps I will find a time machine and thus get Toby to the correct age, but seriously, watch him in action on Black Sails and it’s THAT Toby, the Toby of now, that is Jack. So perhaps Lauren will have to write another adventure for when Jack and Jane are older for my casting to work. I’m totally ok with getting another book, aren’t you?

2005:
Eloise Kelly played by Ellie Kemper
Colin Selwick played by JJ Feild

1807:
Jane Wooliston played by Hayley Atwell
Jack Reid played by Toby Stephens

Pink XI: Dream Casting

Welcome back, Miss Eliza!

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I will state this once and once only. I didn’t dream cast Eleanor Tomlinson as Sally Fitzhugh because of Poldark thus making this post hip and au courant. Seriously, it is the most bizarre of coincidences that her rise to fame coincides with my writing of this post; because, for me, Eleanor has been Sally since December of 2013. Let’s look back to that cold December. I had gotten horribly sick over Thanksgiving weekend, it could be because I stood in a snow drift in tennis shoes, but what can I say, things happen, especially when you are trying to entertain small children during a freak November snowstorm. Being laid up, I obviously started to devour books. I read fifteen books in four short weeks, many of them Christmas themed to try to buoy my spirits. There’s one book that does this more than any other during the holidays, and that is The Mischief of the Mistletoe. While re-reading this book for the umpteenth time I was thinking of Sally a lot, most likely because I knew her own book, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, was coming out the following summer. Simultaneously, the much waited for adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley was airing on consecutive nights on the BBC and became the highlight of my family’s day. I had great hopes for this adaptation, having a strong dislike of the book but a love of the cast. But little did I expect that Sally was going to make an appearance. There was Sally, going by the name Georgiana Darcy for some reason… well, whomever she was pretending to be, I knew it was Sally. There was never any doubt in my mind that it was she. Beautiful, funny, a “gilded beanpole” with a fierce will of steel that can easily wield a stoat; Sally was cast.

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If there’s one show that I think everyone should be watching right now its Penny Dreadful. Yes, I know Poldark is awesome, but it’s Penny Dreadful that has my dark heart. Combining a plethora of literary characters in the dark Victorian demimonde of London I just can’t get enough of the show. In fact my previously mentioned Tom Mison loving friend Marie is one of my recent converts. Why am I bringing this up? Because it’s in the world of Penny Dreadful that I found Lucien, the Duke of Belliston, and Marie agrees. The actor Reeve Carney plays Dorian Gray, that sexy immoral immortal. His beauty, his enigmatic air, he is Lucien! But more than that, he has this look in his eyes, this quirk at the corner of his mouth that indicates a constant amusement with the world around him. I think that this is exactly the side of Lucien that Sally brings out and that Reeve can play. They have a playful relationship, despite the hardship of murders, and both actors need to understand this humor. I also think it’s funny that the “casting” of Lucien was so easily decided when Marie brought it up to me. She asked who I saw, I said Reeve Carney, she agreed. Now if only making this miniseries a reality and getting all my dream actors together was that easy…

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But, I must tell you the whole truth here. I must be completely honest. Though Reeve Carney was instantly and irrevocably Lucien, part of me didn’t want him to be. There’s a part of me that has been longing for so long for a role worthy in Lauren Willig’s oeuvre of one of my favorite actors, Blake Ritson, that I hoped he could be Lucien. He is just amazing in everything, with that voice that you would die to have wake you every morning. His amusing turn as Mr. Elton followed by his layered portrayal of the Duke of Kent on the new Upstairs, Downstairs, made him a permanent resident in my heart. And if you haven’t seen him as Riario on Da Vinci’s Demons, go do that right now, after you finish Penny Dreadful. At the same time as I was first reading The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla I was reading Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series, where the seductive villain could only be brought to life by Blake. So Blake was on my mind. A lot. And I kept thinking, damn, he could ALMOST be Lucien. Almost. And I’d try him out here and there and yes, he could work, but he wasn’t Reeve. So I ask you this; who is your Lucien?

Eleanor Tomlinson as Sally

Reeve Carney as Lucien

Pink X: Dream Casting

Welcome back, Miss Eliza!

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Miss Gwen might be the only character I feared to get wrong. She does have a way with a parasol and I have very bruisable flesh. Unlike some other readers I had always pictures Miss Gwen in her late 30s or her early 40s, so I didn’t have this presumption working against me. My first choice years ago was Maggie O’Neill because of her wonderful job in the Billie Piper version of Mansfield Park. While a fabulous actress, she is a little too blond and busty, and has a tendency to be the killer on any murder mystery she’s in, which might actually delight Miss Gwen, but I felt it just wouldn’t do. Then when I first read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria I started to think that Lucy Cohu would be great. She’s another fabulous actress who I was drawn too because of the denied passion of Gwen calling out to other similar roles she has had, but, in the end, too short and too busty. Knowing the re-read was happening I started to become a little desperate. Who would be Miss Gwen!?!

I started to think about what defines Miss Gwen. She has a core of iron, as if her backbone was made of the steel her parasol conceals. She has to be fabulous with the delivery of a put down. She has to have wit, height, yet a secret vulnerability. Going with these traits I started to think Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, might work. Seriously, watch how she can just deliver a smack down without even saying a word, even if Miss Gwen says she’s never mastered the art of the single raised eyebrow I think we could let it slide. Though while watching a recent episode right when I had started to re-read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria I began to second guess myself. Later that night I was curled in bed reading and I was struck by how much Miss Gwen reminded me of the Queen of Thorns, as played by Diana Rigg, on Game of Thrones.  I thought was picturing a younger Diana, but then I realized it wasn’t Diana at all, it was Diana’s daughter Rachael Stirling; who most people know because of her stellar work on The Bletchley Circle. She’s elegant, witty, tall, has a husky voice, and has somehow become the perfect actress for this role in my mind. Therefore, despite much thought and much backtracking, I have found my Miss Gwen. I hope you approve, she might have a few choice words if you don’t.

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As for William… I got preoccupied with his red hair, so much so that there was literally a ginger parade of actors going through my head. Tony Curran, Toby Stephens, James Cosmo, on and on, but all were too young or too old or just plain wrong, despite all being amazing talents I might add. I was so caught up on hair that I forgot that hair can be dyed. Duh.  So once I stopped trying to cast by hair and instead cast by character I instantly knew who Colonel William Reid was. He was Anthony Stewart Head who played Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The reason I believe Tony is perfect is because of his acting range, he can do comedy, drama, singing, whatever you have, he can do, and do it riding a horse. More importantly, he has this inner mirth that is infectious. When he smiles and his eyes start to crinkle at the edges and then he tilts his head back to laugh, I just see the similarities to William and know that no one else would do William justice, he’s a likeable rogue. Plus, can I get a hell yeah for how well he’s aged? Rarely have I ever wanted the villain to win on Warehouse 13, but Paracelsus can win any day with me.

Miss Gwendolyn Meadows played by Rachael Stirling
Colonel William Reid played by Anthony Head

Pink VIII: Dream Casting

This post was written by Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstance.

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I admit that in my casting of Laura Grey I might have done a little typecasting. The thing is, I might actually be one of a few people who actually knew who Michelle Dockery was prior to Downton Abbey. Why you ask? Because of Terry Pratchett. With his recent death the world has lost one of the most amazing writers I have ever met, but luckily he lives on in his books and his few television adaptations. Hogfather was the first live action Terry Pratchett adaptation and was also Michelle Dockery’s second ever acting gig. She made quite an impression as Susan, the granddaughter of DEATH, so much so that she IS that character for me now. As it happens Susan was a governess. The same year Downton Abbey premiered Michelle was also the ill-fated governess in a new adaptation of The Turn of the Screw, ironically enough with Dan Stevens, her ill-fated Downton Abbey husband! Therefore she’s became kind of the go-to governess for me. But more than that, she has this ability to withdraw into herself that can mask her inner turmoil when needed. For some reason I had totally convinced myself that Downton Abbey didn’t play a part in Michelle being Laura for me, but looking at the fact that I first read this book only two days after watching the first season finale of Downton Abbey… I think that perhaps it played a little part.

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As for Jaouen, the first time I read The Orchid Affair his casting was a mystery to me. I couldn’t see anyone playing him. This frustrated me more than a little and might have been a tiny bit of the reason as to why I fell behind on my dream casting for Lauren’s later books. So, as my OCD nature demands it of me, I’d occasionally be watching a show and think, hmm, could he be Jaouen? Sometime last year I thought I had finally found my André while watching the newest adaptation of The Three Musketeers, The Musketeers with Doctor Who! OK, so it doesn’t REALLY have Doctor Who, it’s just that the show was better before Peter Capaldi was killed off for him to go be The Doctor. There was Santiago Cabrera, the heartthrob Sir Lancelot from Merlin, oh, and the comic guy killed on Heroes. I thought, yes, I have found him. I have found my Jaouen at last! And then I started to re-read the book and in walked Dominic West. Dominic West has hijacked my dream casting! Yes, he’s a fabulous actor, if you were ever in any doubt watch The Hour. But seriously, I don’t know how he did it, whether he’s been lurking in my subconscious since I watched The Affair last fall waiting to pounce, or what. But, aside from surprising me, I do have to say, he’d make a great Jaouen!

Laura Grey played by Michelle Dockery
André Jaouen played by Dominic West

Pink VII Deam Casting

This post was written by Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstace.

Lily_1Very rarely am I 100% inflexible on my casting. In fact I usually try out a few actors in my head before I alight on just the right one. It’s kind of fun, having one actor exit a scene and having another actor enter as the same character, much like watching a Regency version of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. But this is not the case with The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, and it’s all down to Lauren’s writing, with one of the leads more directly so then the other. The direct one has resulted in me having Penelope be my only 100% author approved casting ever. One day on Lauren’s blog she mentioned that she saw Penelope walk across the screen in a recently episode of PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery, though much like me Lauren correctly referred to it as just Mystery! Lauren thought it might have been an episode of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, but wasn’t sure, though she did proclaim: “There she is! That’s Penelope!”  I, being the BBC addict that I am instantly recognized that it was the first episode from season one of Lewis and the actress was Anna Madeley. I had already seen Anna in The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton, ironically in an unsuitable marriage and had thought she’d make a great Pen, so when Lauren reiterated my interior monologue I was totally on board, she is Pen. All her amazing roles since, from The Old Curiosity Shop to Sense and Sensibility to Mr Selfridge have brought home the fact that she IS Penelope to me again and again.

Lily_2As for Alex Reid? He’s obviously Aidan Turner.  Sometime during 2009 I devoured the entire first season of Being Human and promptly decided that I MUST watch EVERYTHING Aidan Turner had ever been in. The only thing available Stateside was a single episode of The Tudors… Therefore when Desperate Romantics came around, well, he can be my Dante Gabriel Rossetti any day, and actually was when I read Lauren’s That Summer! But more importantly, in the fall of 2009 laying sick in bed with my ARC of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, well, there was Aidan hanging out with Anna!  The brooding, the appearance, the conflict, all emotions that I had seen Aidan emote so amazingly as the vampire Mitchell, made him Alex. My re-reading the book while luxuriating in his new staring turn in Poldark has only reinforced my opinion, as has that little quirky smile of his and his regimentals. There is and can only be one Alex Reid.

Lily_3As for the final point in this love triangle… or should we just say, the complication that got what he deserved? Lord Frederick Staines. Originally I had thought that he could be played by Rupert Penry-Jones, because I couldn’t think of anyone who has the pretty boy, slightly vacant charm that Rupert has with the ability to be nasty when he needs to be. But I think, besides getting older, well, I like him too much to love to hate him. I think I was too caught up with the “golden boy” look and while re-reading The Betrayal of the Blood Lily I was struck by the scene when Freddy has been discovered with his mistress and he sags with relief when he thinks he’s got Pen mollified. The actor that instantly sprang to mind was Matthew Goode. I seriously adore Matthew and he is someone whom I can love to hate, heck I was rooting for him to win in Watchmen! Plus, he did a good job actually distracting me from Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, which in and of itself deserves a reward. Plus, if need be he can go Ozymandias blond again… only if need be.

Penelope Deveraux played by Anna Madeley
Captain Alex Reid played by Aidan Turner

Pink VI: Dream Casting

Today’s post was written by Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstance.

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While it’s hard to choose a favorite book in this series, though my heart does lean towards last month’s re-read, there is without a doubt one heroine I most identify with, and that is Lady Charlotte Lansdowne. Her bookish ways, her fairy tale dreams, I am Charlotte! So, of course, being as this would be my avatar I’m casting I would only settle for the best. To me there is only one actress who exudes the sweetness coupled with a dreamy air, and of course, the dimples to properly pull off that shepherdess costume. I am of course talking about that darling Carey Mulligan, seen above with Amy Balcourt appropriately. From the bubbly Kitty Bennet to the lovesick Ada Clare I can’t think of anyone else to play Charlotte. I mean seriously, just do a Google image search on her and you have tons of pictures of her smiling face, you might even be under the impression that she is holding in her laughter waiting to bait certain mythical beasts with tarts!

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As for Robert, the Duke of Dovedale, I give you Stephen Campbell Moore to consider. Now Stephen never struck me as a leading man, though his performance in He Knew He Was Right is fabulous. He is usually second fiddle, and usually to the likes of heartthrobs like Matthew Goode and Jonny Lee Miller. Stephen is a solid actor who can really do conflicted well; a trait that I think we all agree has to be at the core of Robert. Plus he has a chameleonic ability to just inhabit his roles, making you think not of the man behind the character but of just the character. Though there is one role in which I sat up and went “damn!” This was during the first season of Lark Rise to Candleford where he played the new male (I know, so shocking) teacher at the local school. As James Delafield he exuded intelligence and wit and sex appeal, and damn he looks good in a beard. When reading about Robert first reigning in his horse in the courtyard he looked exactly like Stephen Campbell Moore on Lark Rise to Candleford… it’s amazing how sometimes it’s just there, click.

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Of course I cannot let this dream casting come to a close without mentioning a certain villainous man… with a love for hellfire, naughty.  I am talking about Medmenham. Now, I don’t know if any of you will openly admit to having watched a little, or perhaps a lot, of Gossip Girl, but I want to bring the actor behind Chuck Bass to your attention today. Medmenham is basically the Regency Chuck Bass, laugh all you want, but you know, deep down, I’m right. So who better to play our 19th century Chuck then the actor who brought him to life, Ed Westwick. Also, interesting fact, he’s actually British, so quite literally perfect. So let’s get him off to some nice dank caves and get this party started!

Extra posts:
Lady Charlotte Lansdowne played by Carey Mulligan
Robert, Duke of Dovedale played by Stephen Campbell Moore

Pink V: Dream Casting

This post was written by Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstance.

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If there is one man in all of Lauren’s books whom I want to sweep me off my feet, I cannot deny that it’s Turnip Fitzhugh. Of course there’s every chance Turnip could trip me and literally sweep me off my feet, but nevertheless, you get my point. Like my love of Henry Tilney, I view humor and goodwill as a cornerstone of romance. For me there is only one person who could be Turnip. I know, this is a sweeping statement. While I can occasionally see many actors in the roles and even agree with many of the alternative suggestions put forth, there is one and only one person who could play Turnip.  Let us now go back into the mists of time when I was a young impressionable girl who loved to spend her time watching Mystery! on PBS with my parents, reveling in all things Victoriana, especially Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. Total aside, but does anyone else think that as a young man in My Fair Lady he looks just like Daniel Day Lewis? OK, so it is just me, and back to Sherlock Holmes. The truth is, despite my love of Jeremy Brett and even Benedict Cumberbatch, to me there’s only one Sherlock Holmes, and that’s Nicholas Rowe.

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The first time I watched Young Sherlock Holmes my heart was forever lost. It wasn’t just that Nicholas’s Holmes is brilliant, it’s that he’s funny and cute and gangly and just perfect. Plus the love of his life was named Elizabeth, sigh. While never attaining the fame of some British actors, Nicholas consistently shows up on the television screen and is perfection no matter how large or small a role. I’m particularly looking forward to his cameo in Mr. Holmes as “Matinee Sherlock.” Apparently (or so I’m guessing), the makers of this film understand that even if you have Ian McKellen playing Sherlock, there are people out there like me wishing for Nicholas Rowe! As to why he’d be perfect as Turnip: he has a goofy, supercilious air about him that hides a heart of gold. Plus, that floppy lock of hair and that I could totally see him in a carnation waistcoat on his tall body, everything adds up to perfection.  Mmm, yeah.

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As for his better half I totally envision Claire Foy. The initial reason I saw her as Arabella is that as Amy Dorrit in Little Dorrit she has this wonderful vulnerability that has a will of iron behind it that protects her family above everything else. This is how I view Arabella. She sees her situation and makes up her mind that teaching is the way to help her family and she does it. Arabella has doubts and concerns, which is where the vulnerability enters in, but in the end, her iron will makes her take the leap. But if I hadn’t been totally convinced of her, well, Going Postal nailed it for me. She’s caustic and humorous. The key to the Turnip Abrabella union is that they genuinely like each other and know how to have a good laugh. So I give you Nicholas Rowe and Claire Foy, Mr. and Mrs. Turnip. Who do you see?

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh played by Nicholas Rowe
Arabella Dempsey played by Claire Foy

I know Sheila has already put forward her choice for Turnip: Simon Baker!  Personally, I think Simon Woods has potential.  Maybe Simons make good Turnips??