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It looks as if 1995 could be the year for Crispin Bonham-Carter.

Immediately after finishing Pride and Prejudice for the BBC he made a pilot of a TV show Bingley. with Joan Collins, and he only just returned from Hungary, where he has a lead role in one of the episodes in the new Cadfael series for ITV.

Playing Bingley "was really like a dream come true, because while he seems to come across as a perpetual 'Mr. Nice Guy,' he really does make a journey of his own. At first, he's totally in thrall to his older friend Darcy. He's completely influenced by the older man, who he perhaps sees as a sort of social mentor...

Bingley. "But then he does a bit of growing up, and has opinions of his own. He grows and becomes his own man. And, of course, he changes his mind, independently, about Jane.

"Funnily enough, when the project first came up, I actually auditioned for the part of Wickham, the baddie. But after a short while the producer and director thought I'd be far better playing Bingley, and I was delighted to accept."

The "third cousin" of actress Helena Bonham-Carter, Crispin "failed to get into Oxford, and went to St. Andrews in Scotland instead, which really proved to be highly advantageous and a great benefit for me, because I just got more and more involved with their theater group.

"Pride and Prejudice is the first major television I've done, and I really don't think I could have enjoyed myself more. It was Playing Bingley was really a dream come true... such a wonderful group of people to be around. And an actor's dream is to put on a good period costume and some sideburns...you've got the character straight away! Seriously, when you're surrounded by such total realism in the sets and the clothes, it would be very hard indeed not to have some of the naturalism rub off on you.

"And that Regency period was such a time of style that you do indeed stand and move in a different way. You almost feel ashamed to climb out of it all at the end of a day and put your jeans and T-shirt back on. What Bingley would have thought of today's casual dress would be anyone's guess. I think he'd have been horrified!"

Crispin says he wants "to do a lot more stage work, I really do yearn to get back into the theater. But then, when you've got a bit of a ball rolling -- as I seem to have at the moment, thank goodness -- it would be extremely foolish to ignore that and refuse what have been some very good TV offers.

"Pride and Prejudice is, after all, very much a quality production, with amazingly high standards and values to it. But it is also interesting and accessible. And a lot of fun. People tend to forget that Jane Austen had a sense of humor, and Bingley wasn't a total stuffed shirt. I loved playing him. Being the 'nice guy' is so much harder than being the Mr. Nasty, so that's why I was grateful to Andrew Davies for letting Bingley make his own journey to self-fulfillment."



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