A Woman of Substance (1984)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama, Romance
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A Woman of Substance charts the life of Emma Harte, from kitchen maid at the beginning of the 20th Century, to respected business woman and Grandmother in the 1980's. From humble beginnings... See full summary »

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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Young Emma Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
 Maj. Paul McGill (3 episodes, 1985)
 Emma Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
 Laura O'Neill (3 episodes, 1985)
 Edwin Fairley (3 episodes, 1985)
John Duttine ...
 Joe Lowther (3 episodes, 1985)
 Adam Fairley (3 episodes, 1985)
Mick Ford ...
 Frank Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
Christopher Gable ...
 Arthur Ainsley (3 episodes, 1985)
Christopher Guard ...
 Gerald Fairley (3 episodes, 1985)
 Winston Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
Del Henney ...
 Jack Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
 Olivia Wainwright (3 episodes, 1985)
 Murgatroyd (3 episodes, 1985)
 Blackie O'Neill (3 episodes, 1985)
Nicola Pagett ...
 Adele Fairley (3 episodes, 1985)
 Paula McGill Amory (3 episodes, 1985)
Joris Stuyck ...
 David Kallinski (3 episodes, 1985)
Meg Wynn Owen ...
 Elizabeth Harte (3 episodes, 1985)
 Bruce McGill (3 episodes, 1985)
Megs Jenkins ...
 Mrs. Turner (3 episodes, 1985)
Harry Landis ...
 Abraham Kallinski (3 episodes, 1985)
 Henry Rossiter (3 episodes, 1985)


A Woman of Substance charts the life of Emma Harte, from kitchen maid at the beginning of the 20th Century, to respected business woman and Grandmother in the 1980's. From humble beginnings Emma Harte starts her business with a small shop, but over the next twenty years she expands her stores and invests in the growing textile industry in Leeds. By the time of World War 2, Emma is the head of a major retail and manufacturing empire, but she has struggled all her life to find love. After an illegitimate daughter and two marriages, she finally meets the love of her life, Paul McGill, but their affair is cut short by a tragic accident, leaving Emma with his daughter. In the 1980's Emma faces one of her biggest tests - her childrens attempt to remove her as head of her company, but Emma is far from the senile old woman they think she is - she is determined to stop them at all costs. Written by Stacey Mitchell

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

25 November 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Des Lebens bittere Süße  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(5 episodes) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The store in London which is supposed to be "Harte's" is actually the real Harrods London. Harrods allowed the producers to film the actual store with a "Harte's" sign in place of the Harrods sign, both in green with gold lettering, and even in the same style of lettering. Interestingly, Harrods does not include an apostrophe on its famous sign, but the sign for "Harte's" does have an apostrophe. Harrods also gave permission for scenes to be filmed in the interior of the famous London store. See more »


The transatlantic liner Queen Elizabeth on which Paul McGill says he is booked to go to the USA in 1939 was not completed until 1940 and did not enter commercial service until after WW2, about 1946. He may have meant the Queen Mary. See more »


Gerald Fairley: [late in the film, after Emma has purchased everything the Fairleys once owned] How can you cold-bloodedly set out to ruin someone?
Young Emma Harte: That was my plan, but you did it yourself, really. I just helped you along the way.
See more »


Followed by To Be the Best (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Triple-hanky weepie
5 February 2000 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Even the most hard-hearted will find it difficult to resist the spell of this stylish mini-series. The audience is put through the emotional mangle as spirited heroine Emma Harte endures every setback and hardship going, yet still wins through.

Part of the fascination of the series lies in the quite remarkable cast. Jenny Seagrove splendid as the indefatigable Emma ; a young Liam Neeson and Miranda Richardson ; dear old Barry Morse ; Deborah Kerr as the older Emma ; Christopher Guard as the blackguardly villain, who gets his comeuppance in one of the most satisfying scenes ; and Peter Chelsom, who went on to direct the hit British film "Hear My Song", as well as the less successful "Funny Bones".

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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