'Pride and Prejudice' miniseries turns 20: Here's why it's still the best version

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By Ree Hines

Jane Austen's most beloved book, "Pride and Prejudice," has spawned plenty of big and small-screen adaptations — more than half a dozen between the years 1940 and 2014.

But one rises above the rest!

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in 1995's 'Pride and Prejudice.'Courtesy Everett Collection

Sorry, fans of the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. We're talking about the one that stole our hearts a decade before that.

In 1995, the BBC made Regency-romance magic with a six-part miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle as indomitable heroine Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as the quintessential and oh-so-haughty Mr. Darcy.

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Courtesy Everett Collection

It was the spot-on casting and the gripping love story about — well, exactly what the title says — that made the almost six-hour presentation must-see from start to finish.

RELATED: Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy! See Colin Firth's 5 most swoon-worthy scenes

Well, that and ...

Ah, Darcy taking a dip in the lake! The scene wasn't in the book, but it's not as though die-hard fans complained about the addition of a sopping wet '90s-era Firth.

No. Their reaction was closer to Elizabeth's:

Elizabeth Bennet sees Mr. Darcy in a whole new light by the lake in 1995's Pride and Prejudice.BBC Worldwide, YouTube

The scene is such an enduring part of pop culture, it's been copied again (in the fan-perspective tale "Lost In Austen"):

And again (by a charitable Benedict Cumberbatch):

And again (in the form of a 12-foot fiberglass statue):

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the miniseries, and it's a perfect time to watch it (on DVD, Blu Ray, on-demand or Hulu Plus) and see that full scene — and all the other scenes, too, if you want — in honor of the occasion.

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