A Woman of Substance (TV Mini-Series 1984– ) Poster

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Great Stuff !
Nicholas Rhodes17 August 2003
This has just become available on DVD for a very modest price in the UK and I would highly recommend it to all those who love "Family Sagas". There is a sequel "Hold the Dream" but it is useless to watch this if you haven't first watched "A Woman of Substance". The whole show, almost ten hours viewing in all will keep you glued to your armchair, and as there are some sad moments along the way, it's better to have your supply of kleenex beside you before starting to view !

The main actors in the series are magnificent, I have always adored Deborah Kerr, notably in "An Affair to Remember", and "The Innocents" and here she plays out the very believable rôle of the Old Lady. Her diction and facial expressions are magnificent, and here performance here just adds more confirmation to the fact that she is a great actress.

Jenny Seagrove, strangely beautiful, acts out the young Emma Harte with great conviction and Liam Neeson, very handsome, puts in a magnificent performance as Blackie. Despite the story being very long, the fact that there are so many twists and turns, and the fact that is is filmed mostly in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, one doesn't get bored for an instant.........

Naturally, a story of this length is bound to have some inconsistencies for example, Jenny Seagrove's accent seems to vary from Yorkshire to Posh Southern England and back on several occasions ! We see heavy rain falling from a bright blue sky ! Because the film spans so many years, some people grow up too quickly and towards the end, it gets a little confusing. But there is no point in dwelling inordinately upon these defects. The general impression is one of great satisfaction.

I can only hope this film will be available in all countries with corresponding language tracks and subtitles so that all will be able to appreciate it. It is said to be a "woman's film" as it shows a woman's struggle from "rags to riches" but I, as a man, certainly enjoyed it !!!
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One of the best miniseries of all time
Bruce J. Green18 December 2004
"Woman of Substance" began as a hugely successful novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford and"successful" does not simply refer to its popularity. Bradford writes knowingly and convincingly about England's most difficult historical period: the 20th Century. Beginning in the then present of 1974,Bradford tells the story of Emma Harte, who begins life as a maid in the household of a local Yorkshire Squire in Edwardian times and end her life the mistress of a commercial empire worthy of Rockefeller. Not only do we see her triumphs, we see her errors and her failures etched in fine detail. Emma Harte is both noble and vengeful, bitter and loving; she is, in fact, one of the most complex characters of modern popular literature. One can dismiss Bradford's novel as "romance fiction" but it is not: Bradford presents a woman as complex as the Yorkshire she comes from.

The miniseries based on the novel captures it perfectly. Not only is Jenny Seagrove an outstanding Young Emma Harte, we see Deborah Kerr as the older Emma and a young Liam Neeson in a brilliant comic and dramatic performance as Emma's friend, Blackie. The movie shows us glimpses of such disparate history as the lives of British Jews and the development of the ready to wear industry, with outstanding performances by the supporting cast, including Diane Baker and John Mills. For any fan of sagas such as The Thornbirds or Rich Man, Poor Man, A Woman of Substance is a must see.
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A saga worth watching.
Creyola26 December 2002
The story follows the life of Emma Harte and her rise from a servant girl to the owner of a large empire of her own creation. The movie begins in the 1980's, but the bulk is Emma's recollection of her life from the age of 14 on (1900's-1940's.) Jenny Seagrove does a magnificent job portraying young Emma, and a young Liam Neeson plays the part of 'Blackie' wonderfully. This mini series matches the likes of 'The Thornbirds' and 'Pride and Prejudice' in it's acting and beautiful scenery, not to mention the story itself. Emma is a young woman of independence during a time when such a thing was a rarity. Definitely worth the 6 hours it will take you to watch it!
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Nice period piece
Kitty-934 April 2000
As "chick" movies go, this is tops. The performances are very touching, giving life to many of the characters. Jenny Seagrove absolutely shines as Emma; with all the foolish mistakes she makes, you still root for her. Peter Chelsom gives a completely heartbreaking performance as the sheltered and confused Edwin. Liam Neeson, Gayle Honneycutt are convincing; and some of the voice dubbing (particularly the children seem to have "adult" voices) sounds very uneven. The costumes and settings are fabulous. After all, this is a made for TV mini-series, so given that limitation, this is quite outstanding! Blame the book for the anti-clamatic ending, not the film makers or actors. Watch the movie, then read the book to fill in the blanks. You'll agree, the movie is a really on-target adaptation for the most part.
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Girl power rules
vitachiel11 January 2012
A Woman of Substance is an entertaining, typically British mini series, which tells the story of a young woman empowering herself through hard work and hatred against a high class family that have always been indifferent and bossy to her and her poor relatives. She rapidly grows into a powerful business woman who ruins the hated family to the very last crumb.

A biography must always find a fine line: how 'old' can the actors grow and when to substitute characters with new players? They've done a marvelous job with 'Blackie' Neeson; he really looks like an old man at the end of the series, although his mannerisms completely oppose his former, playful self. And it must be added: gluing a beard and silvering his hair makes the job a lot easier.

Miss Seagrove didn't make it into old age, she got replaced by (a first-rate) Deborah Kerr. In the main story Emmy ages some 40 years, but in her fifties she still looks like the teenage lass from the beginning of the story. Here, old-fashioned haircuts and clothes don't help; Seagrove just has too youthful a face The acting is of a reasonable level. Seagrove does a fine job, with the exception of some cheesy moments and the instances where she talks to her young children - as if she doesn't know how to talk to kids. Although this could also have been the director's fault. All in all, Seagrove is believable in her role, and she has one of the sweetest smiles I've ever seen...

The other dozen or so actors are okay but forgettable, except for two of them: Blackie, the happy-go-lucky everybody's friend and Gerald Fairley, Mr. Evil Impersonated; overacting has never been so effective!
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Triple-hanky weepie
heedarmy5 February 2000
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".
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The Best Mini Series Ever!
MarkAshtonLund18 May 2007
This just has to be the best television mini-series ever produced. Based on the international best seller of the same name, with excellent actors against a backdrop of magnificent locations. Anyone who has read the book will only be more enchanted after they see the film. First, Jenny Seagrove has be one of the best actresses. Sadly I don't see her on much in the U.S. She plays the character of the young and ever determined Emma Harte brilliantly. The way she delivers the ice cold lines of revenge. She makes Joan Collin's Alexis look like a Sunday school teacher. This film also stars a young actor by the name of Liam Neeson as Blackie. When you see his performance in this film, you will know why he is a star today. And we must not forget that this is one of the last performances of Deborah Kerr. I believe her actual last performance was in the sequel to this film Hold The Dream. A Woman of Substance..always the Best!
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High quality mini-series
jjnxn-130 April 2013
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.
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One of the best English tv-series.
spurs-228 January 1999
I regard this series as one of the best drama and romantic English tv-series ever to be done. It contains drama, fighting spirit, sadness, happiness and misfortune. So if you haven't seen this series, DO IT NOW. it's worth it.
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foxtoy7 February 2006
I am a huge movie buff, and Women of Substance is my all time favorite. I taped it originally as a mini series- have both the VHS and DVD versions. I watch it in its entirety at least twice a year (just watched a few weeks ago). Jenny Seagrove and Liam N's acting are great. I especially like Jenny's character as she confronts the family she worked for and Deborah Kerr's fantastic will reading scenes with her family are the epitome of watching this 6 hour mini series. It truly shows the strength of women in business. My wife and I happened to be a Disneyworld and walked into a small book store, only to be delighted by Barbara Taylor Bradford being there signing books...it was great. Enjoy the movie...for me it ranks with the Wizard of Oz, Casablanca and other greats of our time!
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Substance !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sexy_pisces_gal27 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When Emma Harte leaves Fairly Hall she is 16, single, and pregnant. With determination hard work and resilience that was to become her trademark Emma becomes one of the worldÂ's richest women. From the streets of Knightsbridge, London to the bustling city of New York Harte Enterprises becomes the toast of the world.

When Emma Harte has to leaves Fairly Hall after her passionate affair with her mastersÂ' son (Peter Chelsom) she is pregnant and alone. Escaping to town of Leeds to be with her friend Blackie OÂ'Neill (Liam Neeson) Emma quickly finds her feet and dominates the market. Driven by revenge to avenge herself by her betrayal at the hands of the Fairleys, Emma succeeds in ruining their lives and money and securing incalcuble wealth for herself. Marriage to Joe Lowther (John Duttine) brings her a son Kit, although she is widowed most tragically during the war. Two further children Robin and Elizabeth result in her second marriage to the charming womaniser Arthur Ainsley (Christopher Gable). She finally finds true love with Major Paul McGill (Barry Bostwick) the man that was dominate her life and overthrow her mistrust in men, resulting in the birth of her last child Daisy. This story charts EmmaÂ's rise from lowly kitchen maid to multi millionairess. Fighting off opposition from her sworn enemy, Gerald Fairly, older brother of Edwin Fairly, father to her illegitimate child Edwina. To her final act of vengeance, against the very people she loved whole-heartedly.
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loved just about every minute of it
momnj1 February 2001
I enjoyed this series from beginning to end. Jenny Seagrove was fantastic as the young Emma Harte. Deborah Kerr was magnificent as the older Emma Harte. It was wonderful seeing her again. Liam Neeson was great as Blackie. This is the story of the fictional Emma Harte, a Yorkshire girl who works her way up from lowly domestic servant to the head of her own mega empire. She outsmarts and outdeals some of the biggest tycoons in the world. She finds love and loses love, but never loses her Yorkshire country values. Unfortunately, she's the mother of a bunch of money hungry, backstabbing children who plot against her. Have no fear, she knows how to outsmart them. I won't reveal the ending. You've got to see it for yourself. It was awesome! The only part of this series that I didn't like was Barry Bostwick's portrayal of Emma's Australian boyfriend, Paul McGill. His accent was virtually non-existant. He should've played a Canadian. He was also a bit whimpy for the part. The role needed someone with more presence and strength. His performance was mediocre at best. I highly recommend this series and it's sequel, Hold The Dream. Rent them. You won't regret it.
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Deliciously cheesy
Shazzer3025 February 2004
Whenever my sister and I get in the mood for a mini-series marathon, we rent "The Thorn Birds", but only if our all-time fave is checked out. I refer, of course, to BTB's "A Woman of Substance". This mini-series boasts a stellar cast- Deborah Kerr, Liam Neeson, Jenny Seagrove, Barry Bostwick, and a young Miranda Richardson. The rags-to-riches story of Emma Harte's (Kerr/Seagrove)empire is riddled with tragedy and passion (what else?). The acting at times can be a bit overdone, but that makes it all the more a guilty pleasure. And hey- yummy Liam Neeson is in it! How can you go wrong? Check out Barry Bostwick pre-"Spin City" sporting a cheesy Freddie Mercury mustache!
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reneta897 February 2004
The plot of the film is very good!Jenny Seagrove is perfect as Emma Harte.!The films' music is wonderful!The actors are perfect! I haven't read the Barbara Bradford's book but I'd like to read it! I like the sequence-"Hold the dream",too.I will never forget this film!
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Worst soap ever?
dan.adams6 October 2007
I've just watched this unmitigated load of rubbish. It was simply painful!It saddens me to see good actors will seemingly do "anything" for money. I'm a miniseries junkie, a period drama addict and a soft touch for sagas-but this effort made me sigh with relief as the final credits rolled. The story is hardly original.The ascent of an underprivileged lass with more than her share of determination, seems to be a popular theme with writers.Em's mercurial rise in the world of commerce certainly left the likes of "The Duchess of Duke St" in the shade! I think W of S makes Cookson's stuff look excellent-yet I know it isn't:-)Trevor
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cinq20 June 2002
Having first seen this mini series when it originally aired I purchased my own copy and watch it over and over. Obviously, I like it very much, however there are flaws that I find increasingly irritating. Just before the severe thunderstorm and downpour of rain in Part I they show a perfectly cloudless blue sky. The "Hollywood Rain" that follows is so phony looking it's embarrassing. Edwina's voice dubbing (as a child) sounds awful. Barry Bostwick was a "sore thumb" miscast in the role of Paul McGill. Concerning Emma's children: The viewer is "pulling" for Emma throughout the saga, wronged by the Fairlys, working hard for a better life but how can the viewer take joy or feel supportive of her "actions" at that last "family meeting" at her Yorkshire house? Those children turned out the way they did for a reason. It's called neglect and emotional abuse and it WILL do that to a person. In this case 4 people! At that point in the story I felt sympathy for them not support for Emma. Daisy's daughter Paula was clearly Emma's favorite, but what of Daisy herself ? It was odd that she was not more prominent. The most annoying thing to me was the very last scene. Back in Yorkshire, just moments after having "rocked the world" of those select family members she and Blackie are outside reviewing the years as she sums up her life in an "unaffected" nonchalant manor. How can she appear "unaffected" after what has just occurred ? The last line was so contrived; she actually tells the viewer the "motive" of the story. The viewer doesn't want to be TOLD what the "motive" is. If it's well written we'll figure it out. The ending of a story is all important !!! They blew this one.
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Great !!
linga_975 December 2002
A very good and entertaining story. Great performances by Jenny Seagrove and Deborah Kerr.

I must, however, remain skeptical of how such things could take place in conservative Victorian Britain. After all, in more liberal U.S. the women's lib movement didn't come until the 1960s and 1970s
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Plucky Emma!
tedg23 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Most people don't need much to justify their time in front of a screen. For them, this has two elements as an excuse: pretty good and convincing sets (except the war) and the remarkable face of Jenny Seagrove. Jenny isn't quite up to making her role believable in the large: what with sexual problems, revenge, passion-then-problems, incest, final emptiness. But she is fine in the small, especially at the beginning few hours where she isn?t a wasted human being, and someone we root for.

Her face is very appealing, in fact is precisely half way between Nichole Kidman and Liv Tyler.

I found two things remarkable here: the first is that most women (and there are many) have red hair or are often lit so that their hair is red. I think this is not an accident, and only part can be explained by familial relationships.

The other wonder full thing is: why do we have this new genre of generational scope? I know whey we have the "mini-series" -- because it is a balance of costs, rewards and the attention span of viewers. But in the past, Austen?s time -- we would have focused on one set of characters and had room for development, not three generations and no room at all.

The reason is the power of genre. Genre is a shorthand that allows the writer to assume with confidence that the viewer will assume certain things. Austen's Britain was a rigid class society, and every reader could be assumed to know and bring to the story elements that would otherwise have taken dozens of volumes to prepare. American audiences, the target of this project and the book, have no such benefit. As this is Pseudo-Austen (or more precisely pseudo-Bronte), it still has to have the superficial trappings: set in England, involve class struggle. But it has to invent the context pretty much from scratch, so we have to wade through all the stuff that Bronte's audience would know: the privilege, the sneering at servants, the sexual and economic

exploitation and on and on. We have to SEE a father sacrifice his life for a Fairley. We have to SEE a Fairley attempt a rape. We have to SEE a Fairley brutalizing workers... and on and on.

The problem is that we have to do so much work as viewers to advance the story. Too much. And by the end, the writers haven?t worked as hard. There is a crisis of sorts, and a resolution of sorts, but it is not related to all the work we have done.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
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