Over six episodes, vaguely connected, we follow a group of Cambridge students from their time at university in the 1950s to resignation in the 1970s. The glittering prizes of the title might be the trappings of academia, or simply success, children, or a sense of self.
Nominal star is Tom Conti, as a character perhaps based on the writer Frederic Raphael himself, touchy about his religion but not really caring about the Jewish traditions, seeking success and glory but staring failure in the face - although he only really appears in episodes 1, 3, and 6. On the fringes are other actors like a very young Nigel Havers, as a gay man sent down for indecency; Mark Wing-Davey, as a narcissistic David Frost-type producer director seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood; Malcolm Stoddard, not marrying for love but fond of the quiet life, and in one episode only, Dinsdale Landen as a boozy, cynical flirt bored with his minor university and his ordinary unchallenging wife who he remains 'academically' faithful to.
Like most 1970s productions, scenes studio-bound have an air of fake about them, while filmed inserts are showing their age. And in the cast there's a surprise or two - look for Spandau Ballet's Martin Kemp as a gangly schoolboy. The dialogue shows its age in places, too, but in the main it is good, though wordy.
Just don't expect a real storyline, or closure for the characters, and you might well enjoy this nine hour series.
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