Director JOE WRIGHT was thrilled when screen beauties Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike agreed to get covered in mud for PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - because he insists it makes the big screen adaptation of JANE AUSTEN's classic novel even more romantic.

The British film-maker wanted to focus on the rural setting of the love story, and saw farmyard filth as the perfect accompaniment to ELIZABETH BENNET and MR DARCY's burgeoning attraction.

He enthuses, "Yeah, there's mud everywhere. I think it makes the romantic ideal of love seem much more heroic.

"The characters are looking up at the stars even though their feet are in the pig s**t."