Blott on the Landscape is a novel by Tom Sharpe which was first published in 1975. The book was adapted into a 6-part television series of the same name for BBC television in 1985.
The story revolves around the proposed construction of a motorway —M101 in the book and the M399 in the BBC series—through Cleene Gorge in rural South Worfordshire—a fictional gorge in a fictional English county.
At one end of Cleene Gorge is Handyman Hall; the home of the politician Sir Giles Lynchwood and his wife Lady Maud Lynchwood.
Sir Giles is secretly in favour of ensuring that the motorway passes through the Cleene Gorge (and is actually the originator of the plan) as it will mean he will be paid the compensation for the destruction of Handyman Hall, which is under a covenant preventing its sale. While superficially pretending to be supportive he takes steps to undermine the inquiry and prevent alternatives being adopted, to ensure the new road travels through the Gorge.By contrast, Lady Maud's family has lived in the gorge for over 500 years, and she is fiercely defensive of her heritage and expects Giles to support her.
Matters are further complicated by their on-going marital problems, including Sir Giles's fetishist infidelity and Lady Maud's wish for children to continue her line (to which Sir Giles is violently opposed); and the actions of Maud's gardener, Blott, a former German prisoner of war who is believed to be Italian. The German Army had become so fed up with Blott that the Nazi High Command decided to get rid of him by assigning him to an Italian bomber on a raid to England. Blott, who had served as navigator—and was not very good at it—made them completely lost and was the only survivor when his plane crashed into a mountain, whereupon he was captured, with his captors believing him to be Italian. Blott is strongly patriotic towards his new home nation and home and fiercely devoted to the Handyman family, Maud in particular. Maud's and Giles's marriage settlement leaves Giles with Handyman Hall in the event of a no-fault divorce but not in the event of death or infidelity, a situation he also seeks to provoke by refusing to co-operate in his marital duties and which Maud sees as a potential solution.
With his military training, and some leftovers of the war secretly buried on the estate, Blott begins a covert campaign including blackmail and wire tapping to scrutinize Sir Giles's activities on Maud's behalf and to undermine the construction of the motorway. He also discovers and aims to foil Giles's plans. In the course of the fight for the Gorge, a picturesque nearby village is destroyed by Blott using a demolition crane to whip up popular opposition to the works. Giles is discovered by Lady Maud and Blott in bed bound by his mistress Mrs Forthby and is blackmailed, as is Dundridge, the official in charge of the motorway construction, and the Hall is quickly converted into a wildlife park in an attempt to prevent the removal of its occupants. Giles himself is finally killed by lions when he is discovered by Blott and Maud trying to burn down the Hall.
As a final resort, Blott concretes himself into his home, located in the entrance archway to the estate, preventing work progress. Dundridge, frustrated and going rapidly mad with power, demands the SAS are called in to remove Blott. Blott, after repelling their attempts to scale the arch, secretly launches an attack on his own archway for which the SAS is blamed, finally compelling enough public attention to cause the plans to be dropped. Dundridge is imprisoned for his part in the 'attack' and the destruction of the village (in which one person had been accidentally killed), and Maud and Blott (who have fallen in love by this time) marry and state their intention to add to the Handyman family.
George Edward Cole, OBE was an English actor whose career spanned 75 years. He was best known for playing Arthur Daley in the long-running ITV comedy-drama show Minder and Flash Harry in the early St Trinian's films.
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Alexander Munro was a British sculptor of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He concentrated on portraiture and statues, but is best known for his Rossetti-influenced figure-group Paolo and Francesca (1852), which has often been identified as the epitome of Pre-Raphaelite sculpture.
Thomas Ridley Sharpe was an English satirical novelist, best known for his Wilt series, as well as Porterhouse Blue and Blott on the Landscape, which were both adapted for television.
Florence, Lady Baker or Florica Maria Sas; Barbara Szász; Maria Freiin von Sass; Barbara Szasz; Barbara Maria Szász; Barbara Maria Szasz was a Hungarian-born British explorer. Born in Transylvania, she became an orphan when her parents and brother were murdered by the Romanian marauders led by Ioan Axente Sever and Simion Prodan who killed approximately 1000 predominantly Hungarian civilians in Nagyenyed on 8-9 January, 1849. She fled with the remains of the Hungarian army to the Ottoman Empire, to Vidin. Here she disappeared as child only to be seen in 1859 by Samuel Baker who rescued her. While Baker was visiting the Duke of Atholl on his shooting estate in Scotland, he befriended Maharaja Duleep Singh and in 1858–1859, the two partnered an extensive hunting trip in central Europe and the Balkans, via Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest. On the last part of the voyage, Baker and the Maharajah hired a wooden boat in Budapest, which was eventually abandoned on the frozen Danube. The two continued into Vidin where, to amuse the Maharajah, Baker went to the Vidin slave market. There, Baker fell in love with a white slave girl, Florence, destined for the Ottoman Pasha of Vidin. He was outbid by the Pasha but bribed the girl's attendants and they ran away in a carriage together and eventually she became his lover and wife and accompanied him everywhere he journeyed. They are reported to have married, most probably in Bucharest, before going to Dubrushka, but Sir Samuel certainly promised that they would go through another ceremony on their return to England – where they had a family wedding in 1865.
Blott on the Landscape is a 1985 BBC TV series, adapted by Malcolm Bradbury from the 1975 Tom Sharpe novel of the same name. It was broadcast on BBC2 in six episodes of 50 minutes each between 6 February and 13 March 1985.
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