When a crusade against the Church of England's practice of self-enrichment misfires, scandal taints the cozy community of Barchester when their local church becomes the object of a scathing, investigative report.

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Series cast summary:
Janet Maw ...
Susan Edmonstone ...
 Charlotte Stanhope 5 episodes, 1982
 Bertie Stanhope 5 episodes, 1982
 Mr. Bunce 4 episodes, 1982
William Redgrave ...
 Samuel Grantly 3 episodes, 1982
Christopher Maynard ...
 Baby John Bold 3 episodes, 1982
 Mr. Quiverful 3 episodes, 1982
Maggie Jones ...
 Letitia Quiverful 3 episodes, 1982
Clifford Parrish ...
 Abel Handy 3 episodes, 1982
Derek New ...
 Francis Arabin 3 episodes, 1982
 Dr. Gwynne 2 episodes, 1982
 Tom Towers 2 episodes, 1982
 Mr. Moody 2 episodes, 1982
Richard Bebb ...
 Dr. Vesey Stanhope 2 episodes, 1982
Kenneth Keeling ...
 Mr. Gazy 2 episodes, 1982
Denis Carey ...
 Job Skulpit 2 episodes, 1982
 Wilfred Thorne 2 episodes, 1982
Ursula Howells ...
 Miss Thorne 2 episodes, 1982


The Barchester Chronicles, a BBC miniseries, is adapted from two mid-19th century novels by Anthony Trollope. When a crusade against the Church of England's practice of self-enrichment misfires, scandal taints the cozy community of Barchester when their local church becomes the object of a scathing report about the use of church funds. Consequently, an honorable middle-aged clergyman (Donald Pleasence) is forced into moral crisis and a conflict with his son-in-law, a pompous archdeacon (Nigel Hawthorne) and his youngest daughter's beloved (David Gwillim). The arrival of a new bishop (Clive Swift), his domineering wife (Geraldine McEwan), and a devious chaplain (Alan Rickman) - who may be hiding secrets - add to the dramatic scheming and complex power struggles among a colorful cast of characters. Written by Lulupalooza

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Release Date:

10 November 1982 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mr. Harding's daughter Susan is played by Donald Pleasence's real-life daughter, Angela Pleasence. See more »


Rev. Septimus Harding: I have listened to the word of Obadiah Slope. More important, I have listened to the music of his soul, and I found the melody somewhat tasteless.
Mary Bold: But you must consider the possibility that you misunderstand him.
Rev. Septimus Harding: Yes. And you must consider the possibility that I understand him TOTALLY! And that is why I prefer to wait upon the bishop and his decision - which, I suppose, means Mrs. Proudie's decision.
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Followed by Doctor Thorne (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

Idyllic and exemplary
18 April 2005 | by (Philadelphia) – See all my reviews

That any miniseries as exquisite as this, dating from 1982, would be long unavailable in the U.S., and then appeal only to a small audience, while American rather than British TV and cinema from all reports take the world by storm and set the standard, is cause for amazement if not alarm. Need anyone look further to sympathize with the conservatives in this story, who are wont to feel, in Mr. Arabin's words, that all virtue is disappearing in the wake of modern "progress"? On the other hand, the author Anthony Trollope's star has risen recently among critics and academics; and, even if you have yet to read him, this adaptation will at least afford you a breath of relief that something is therefore going right.

As the only (and minor) negative already noted by others, the character of Arabin is underdeveloped and perhaps miscast, or at least not well conceived and made up. We can even imagine that a scene or two written to this end were dropped at the last minute to save running time. Eleanor's eventual attraction to him surprises us, along with others in the story, almost enough to have _deus ex machina_ written all over it. While we must remember that a filmmaker cannot as easily as a novelist take a detour to acquaint us with an important character entering late, a problem remains for the audience here and something should have been done to solve it.

Now back to the positives. The script is full of quotable lines worthy of the IMDb database. I'll work on it. I also admire this production as a celebration of music. Several times we glimpse Mr. Harding conducting or training one of the finest choirs in the world. Although I doubt that a cathedral precentor even in the 19th century would be directly responsible for this work, it is peculiar that anyone who is, precentor or not, would be consigned to poverty: but, as we know, such is often the way of things. Mr. Harding's musicianship is nevertheless a great source of joy to himself and others. As he tells his daughter brightly when they must move to humbler quarters, "But we shall take the music with us!"

We must recognize in the cast, as Miss Thorne, the daughter of a great composer: Ursula Howells's father Herbert was the dean of cathedral music for two generations, leaving us a cornucopia of liturgical repertoire radiant with a distinctively Anglican mysticism. All concerned must have regarded her part in this production as a mutual honor and privilege. Along with the closing credits rolls a setting of the Jubilate Deo (Psalm 100) almost worthy of his pen, distinguished by a wistful violoncello part evoking the roles of all our Mr. Hardings.

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