‘Miss Pym’s Day Out’ is a 47-minute film made for the BBC in 1992 by James Runcie, who is a novelist, documentary film-maker, television producer, theatre director, and son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Both documentary and drama, the film follows Pym through a fictionalised version of 23 November 1977, the day when she traveled from her home in Finstock to London for the Booker Prizer award dinner – Quartet in Autumn had made the short list, but did not win.
Patricia Routledge played Barbara Pym and there are some brilliant and well-known actors playing characters from several of the novels, but Barbara’s sister Hilary, her close friend and biographer Hazel Holt, the love of her life, Henry ‘Lorenzo’ Harvey, and Tom Maschler, the publisher who rejected An Unsuitable Attachment in 1963, all play themselves, and novelists Jilly Cooper, A.N. Wilson, and Penelope Lively have cameos.
Characters from the novels wander in and out of Barbara’s ‘real’ life as she goes from her home to the parish church to the village hall and then takes the train to London, giving the whole film a surreal feeling. Unless one is very familiar with all of Pym’s novels and watches the video several times, it’s quite difficult to know who is who and what is happening. So we have prepared a detailed Synopsis of Scenes that should help reveal all.
James Runcie wrote, ‘It was a bittersweet comedy about love, religion and literature. I made the film because I love the work of Barbara Pym…’