Darwin and I have been watching the BBC's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, first Murder Must Advertise with Ian Carmichael and the slightly newer trio with Edward Petherbridge. As enjoyable as it is to hear Dorothy Sayers' witty dialog spoken, we have our quibbles with these productions, mainly relating to the characterization of Lord Peter.
Ian Carmichael is clearly too old for Lord Peter, who should be in his late 30s. As impeccable as his comic chops may be (and I get the impression that Carmichael was a noted comic actor in the fine old British style), he simply has no sex appeal whatsoever. This is utterly at odds with Sayers' characterization in the novels, and tends to make his scenes with women rather static. (Strangely enough, everyone in Murder Must Advertise seems cast about ten years older than necessary, though the acting is very fine.)
Edward Petherbridge comes much closer to Wimsey, for my money, but we still only got flashes of the intense ferret-like energy Lord Peter ought to possess. (This is the fault of the director, I think -- all the acting in this series is superlative and the action is hampered mainly by the overly-meditative directing, especially in Strong Poison.) Still, he's younger than Carmichael and has the right sandy hair and long nose for the character. If he were only taller and had a somewhat less high-pitched voice! (This Wimsey icon, and many more, may be found here.)
A question for all you Wimseyphiles who are up on the hot young British actor scene: who could play the definitive Lord Peter? Darwin and I have been trying out some virtual casting, but we're not coming up with anything. We need a tall, lanky (but not too skinny) actor with sandy blond hair and a long nose. Frankly, I think Hugh Laurie could be a fine Lord Peter, if he weren't a bit too old now. Too bad...