Belfast Telegraph

Julian Fellowes says Wind In The Willows mirrors the ‘haters’ of society

The writer and actor explained what we can learn from the much-loved children’s story.

Julian Fellowes has told how the much-loved children’s classic The Wind In The Willows mirrors the “haters and the non-haters” that divide society.

He said that, while traditional class divisions have now become less clear-cut, the story’s woodland characters demonstrate the effects of people becoming “angry” with the establishment.

His re-writing of the story for a West End musical starring Rufus Hound and Denise Welch, made its official debut at the London Palladium last week.

It sees the famous friends Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger face the mischievous antics of the rebellious weasels, who at one point quote French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s famous line: “Property is theft.”

“I don’t actually think the class element is a particularly big part of this production,” Fellowes told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

“I think the weasels are the angry part of society.

“Our societal problems are more to do with the angry and the haters and the non-angry and the non-haters, because you find all social classes mixed up in all the different political polarities.

“I don’t think it is nearly as clearly divided as it was 40 years ago.”

He suggested that the same theory contributed to the success of his acclaimed period drama, Downton Abbey.

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The cast of Downton Abbey (ITV/PA)

Commenting on the six-season series, which follows the highs and lows of the aristocratic Crawley family and their team of in-house servants, he said: “We never took sides.

“We never said to the audience that the family are the real characters and the servants are just the funny people, or the other way around.

“We just said here is a group of people, they were all dealt different cards at birth, they played them well or badly, but for the most part they were decent people trying to make the best of their lives.

“I believe – though I sound like Pollyanna – most people are decent and trying to make the best of their lives.”

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