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
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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 »


Young Emma Harte: [to Gerald, after he has attempted to rape her early in the film] I mean to ruin you... all of you. The entire Fairley family.
See more »


Followed by Hold the Dream (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

High quality mini-series
30 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Engrossing saga of a determined woman's climb to the pinnacle of success. Usually having two actresses share a lead minimizes the impact of that role but the excellent match up of Jenny Seagrove and the great Deborah Kerr avoids that here since they share more than a passing resemblance. Both give strong performances again matching in temperament for a seemly whole. Another great thing about these older minis is getting to see actors who went on to acclaim just starting out or prior to their breakouts. Such is the case with Miranda Richardson, who went from this straight into Dance With a Stranger, and particularly Liam Neeson who is terrific as the stalwart Blackie. Even at six hours though it still seems like it scrimps on some of the more interesting aspects of her business success for conventional romantic complications. Overall though an interesting show. Also worth checking out are the special features, in particular the one with Diane Baker who was the producer of this as well as playing a role and offers good insights into what goes into getting something like this made. If you are a fan of the hers and remember her from her late fifties early sixties heyday its great to see her looking so wonderfully well and still so lively.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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