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Londoners Delighted As Larger-Than-Life Mr Darcy Emerges From The Serpentine

posted 9 Jul 2013, 05:48 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 9 Jul 2013, 05:48 ]

A 12 foot tall Mr Darcy, the infamous romantic hero from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, juts out from London's Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, to the delight of Londoners swimming and running on a sunny morning.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 8, 2013) (HANDOUT) -  In a city full of surprises it's difficult to shock a Londoner, but those swimming and running through Hyde Park on Monday (July 8) were pleasantly taken aback by the 12 foot tall sculpture ofJane Austen's arguably most famous character ever, Mr Darcy, staring back at them from the middle of the Serpentine Lake.

In a recreation of the scene from Pride and Prejudice, made famous by the 1995 BBC television dramatisation starring Colin Firth as the famously frowning Darcy, the sculpture shows Mr Darcy emerging from the water, voted most memorable British TV drama moment of all time in a recent survey for UKTV channel, Drama.

Two centuries after Pride and Prejudice was first published by Austen, Drama General ManagerAdrian Wills said it was the perfect time to bring the character to life and to the London lake.

"It's 200 years since Pride and Prejudice was first published, so it's really appropriate that we're doing this year, and Pride and Prejudice the TV series is the best thing we can use to launch the channel with," he said.

The first editions of the English author's novel came out on January 28, 1813 and the tale of manners and marriage was an instant hit with readers back then.

Today, in many people's view, it is their favourite Austen novel.

Sketch production director and sculptor, Toby Crowther, said the shock of initially seeing the sculpture was quickly forgotten as people enjoyed being reminded of the famous scene.

"I think people were quite startled, originally, to see such a giant Darcy emerging from the lake, but on the whole everyone seems to be happy with it," he said.

"He is what he is, you know he's an homage to one of the most famous scenes and the public generally seem to be delighted," he added.

Those swimming in the Serpentine seemed to agree.

"I think it's rather wonderful actually. Certainly surreal," said one unnamed swimmer treading water near the sculpture.

"Yeah, I mean it was a bit wacky to come down this swimming morning and see Mr Darcy kind of coming out of the Serpentine, but you know, good on you, good on you. It makes swimming a bit more interesting, and I think the swans like it," added, another.

One unnamed woman couldn't resist a quick snap of the sculpture as well.

"Well I've come for a run round, so I was going to go down to Kensington Gardens, but when I saw that I sort of diverted to come here to get a photo," she said.

The model, which is made from fibre-glass, took a team of three sculptors over two months to design, construct and paint.

The giant sculpture of Mr Darcy's head and torso measures 12 feet, equivalent to the height of a double-decker bus.

Crowther said his main concern though was his weight.

"Obviously he's made of polystyrene so he floats, so he's going to have to be ballasted down with probably about a hundred, no probably more like a tonne -- a thousand kilos -- of ballast on the day to stop him floating away," he said.

"Because he's going into lake and seaside locations, the beaches are the ones with the particular challenge because of the tide, and the pedalos and things to worry about," he added.

"But I'm reasonably confident that I've done my homework and I don't think we'll be losing sight of him floating off into the Channel or anything," Crowther said.

The homage to Mr Darcy is set to embark on a short regional tour, taking in Scarborough beach, before it is installed at Lyme Park in Cheshire, where the now infamous scene from the BBC drama was first filmed.

It will remain in place in the lake at Lyme Park until February 2014.