The Jewel in the Crown (TV Mini-Series 1984) Poster

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Crowning Glory
alfa-1614 September 2005
There's a small scene in the first 2 hour episode of Jewel in the Crown about 80 minutes in. Susan Wooldridge, a gangly maladroit, clearly not cut out for India, is sleeping. The long awaited rain wakes her and she gets up and walks out onto the balcony. The obsessional loving care and artistry that is evident in just this single minute tell you everything you need to know about the quality of Jewel in the Crown. The set and the lighting on the sleeping figure momentarily transforms the character who will later be known, pejoratively as "that Manners girl" into the Diana-like beauty she always imagined she would become. Wooldridge is convincingly asleep and wakes naturally, and surprise, delight and relief register on her face as she revels in the feel of rain on her face. Nothing is out the book. It's all fresh, original, new. A great piece of acting by Wooldridge, never surpassed or even approached by all the other actors and actresses who have had to play this popular little scene, present in so many other movies. A great piece of directing, lighting, scene setting and costume design.

Aside from this one, there are 649 other minutes and the same care and devotion is taken with all of them. In the episode "The Mughal Room", Sara Layton and Guy Perron spend Guy's last afternoon exploring the Governor's Summer residence at Pankot. 7 minutes go by without any dialogue in this little elegy for the cobwebbed glory of the Raj before they settle down in one of the bedrooms to make love. You won't find anything else like it in mainstream television. Very hard to do but very beautiful.

But then the whole story is excellent, beautifully paced, tragic, funny, pathetic, illuminating and exciting by turns. I've watched it a number of times and I never want it to end.

It really is the best drama series ever made.
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Not a soap opera after all
m_white11 March 2000
The person who wrote the other review here dismays me. I loved The Jewel In The Crown and highly recommend it! I think it's a very skillful and successful adaptation for TV from fiction.

My own views about this series have changed -- from good to better. A few years ago, I rented it and watched it over a couple days. I thought it was very good, a haunting, tragic story very well done. I realize now that I watched it then very literally, very matter-of-fact, and saw it mostly as a straightforward series of events in the lives of these people trying to cope with the turmoil of the last days of the British in India. I viewed it mostly as a sort of soap opera.

Recently I read all four of the books from which this story was taken, and what an illumination! These novels are brilliant, and I'm stunned with admiration for the talent of the writer, Paul Scott. So after turning the last page, I hot-footed it down to my local video store and rented the whole shebang AGAIN -- and this time saw it as a giant allegory, laden with symbolism, foreshadowing, and irony. The acting is top notch across the board -- you won't find better -- and it's visually striking. There are scenes in this movie that I'll never forget, in the same way the characters are haunted by them.

Instead of a meandering and random soap opera, I saw how event built upon event, how characters affected one another, how chance meetings changed lives, how it all slouched inexorably towards the climax -- or anticlimax -- of the devastating conclusion.

I am amazed at the skillfulness of the screenplay -- to compress those four novels and all their layers of complexity into this TV series. It really is astonishing how the *intent* and *spirit* of the story is communicated... it's not bashing you over the head, but it's *implied*.

I love how the story does not spoon-feed you. I love how the characters don't make sense and we must puzzle them out for ourselves. We're left with a hundred questions about why they did what they did, and I will enjoy speculating about that for years to come. (If you like pat answers, steer clear of this one.)

I loved this series, I intend to buy the videos, and I highly recommend it.
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arybug30 July 2001
Apologies but those above who have slated the series by rubbishing the acting I feel, are seriously mistaken. Those who have said that the British characters were too reserved and meandering are quite correct - it is how British people were and definitely how they were portrayed in Paul Scotts original book. The beauty of the piece lies in its tender subtlety which provides in itself enough drama without constant high adrenaline action so common to the Hollywood Blockbuster. Tim Pigott Smith was just beautiful with his sadistic menacing Ronald Merrick who definitely goes top on my list of all time favourites. The whole piece when watched one after the other definitely gives the sense of time and place which - living in modern times it is often easy to lose sight of. Thumbs up to all the cast I feel that the acting from all members was superb.As the show progresses the viewer gets gradually enveloped and involved in the lives of these people the thing to remember about this piece is that it is not necessarily the action which enhances the show but more importantly the psychological development of every single character ( maybe with the exception on Aunt Fenny - funny but was only there for convenience - to introduce Sarah to Jimmy the soldier)
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A Masterpiece
luvdec19 April 2002
I think that this series is absolute perfection. The acting is magnificent, the story is fascinating and the characters are so real that one thinks that one is actually watching a documentary about the final days of the Raj. It is a marvelous adaptation, not a spare scene and it is beautifully directed. It is tightly woven and tells its tale with enviable clarity. I can not find one flaw in this stupendous series. Literate, complex, compelling, this series is singular and an out and out classic. I fear that we will never see anything like this again. Given the current vapid and stupid landscape of American and British television, "The Jewel in the Crown" is THE exemplar of the height of drama.
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trpdean14 November 2003
This series is captivating. The wonderful way in which strands of plot are woven throughout the series in new and interesting ways, the eternally memorable characters, the fascinating background of historical events, the series' sympathy to people of every age, social and economic background, the charm of many of the protagonists.

Even the more minor characters are just drawn so well. Thus, one of my favorite characters in all of television is that of Nigel Rowan - who is wonderfully portrayed by Nicholas LePrevost; one of my least favorite is the major to whom Sarah is introduced by her aunt and uncle.

Such historical episodes as the decision by the princely states of India whether to accede to the newly independent India - or the creation of an Axis army by Indians who had been taken captive by Germans or Japanese -- these stories are engrossing and not so well known among those of us in the United States not well versed in recent Indian history.

The series is spellbinding - one cares greatly about these people and what happens to them is very interesting indeed.

The symbolism in the series deepens one's sense of the mood of the time, of the tragedy, of the ocean in which these characters swim.

I can't imagine a better series adapted from more wonderful books.
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Interesting mini-series
sueann26 May 2001
I first saw The Jewel in the Crown while I was in college on video. I was quite drawn in by it. There are many fine performances in this piece including Susan Wooldridge (Daphne Manners), Art Malik (Hari Kumar), Tim Pigott-Smith (Merrick), Geraldine James (Sarah Layton), Judy Parfitt (Mildred Layton), Dame Peggy Ashcroft (Barbie Bachelor), and Charles Dance (Guy Peron). It is these performances which keep the piece moving in the "less interesting" parts.

In fact, I think it is the persona of Sarah Layton played by Geraldine James that makes the middle part of the series really go. She comes across as being quite likeable and reasonable living in a situation and time that is full of discord and chaos. Judy Parfitt is wonderful as her mother. And when Charles Dance enters the picture as Guy Peron..... well I had hoped that Sarah Layton would really just settle with Guy. The chemistry they have on screen was quite palpable.

The series can be a bit stiff and starchy which is fitting considering the subject matter and the characters. I really enjoyed the Daphne-Hari romance. More wonderful chemistry between the characters. The world was well painted as full of turmoil for the British Raj whose rule in India was ending during the chaos of WWII.

Definitely worth watching. I recommend this work highly.
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A Stunning Piece of Craftsmanship!
snu_grad12 January 2004
This miniseries is compelling, well-told, beautifully filmed, and superbly acted. With a powerfully moving script, it tells the story of the complex relationship between the British and Indian people at the end of British rule of the subcontinent. It has history, romance, action, mystery, and even a mild dose of sex and violence. ;-) It definitely has something for everyone.

I cried, laughed, was amazed, and said "Oh my God!" and "I knew it!" several times. I was glued to the screen and later watched my favorite scenes a second or third time.

Absolutely its only shortcoming was that there were no subtitles. Being as old as it is and with the many accents, it's sometimes a bit hard to make out the exact lines. But it's so easy to follow (yet never dull) that I was never lost. If A&E ever re-releases this with enhanced sound and subtitles, I'll snag it up in a New York minute! Even my husband (who normally hates British films) really enjoyed this. He hated to miss a minute; by Chapter 3, he was utterly hooked.

See this wonderful piece of work if you can. It's well worth every hour.
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Fine viewing. Definitely recommended.
arshadrahimtulla6 August 2001
I can't understand why there are so many negative comments on 'The Jewel in the Crown'. What a well-made series with great performances. Yes, it does tend to drag during the first three or four episodes but anyone who's read 'The Raj Quartet' would realize that the book is just so - several seemingly unrelated events taking place in a larger political context. The series was definitely better than the books and effectively recreated the political milieu of the time. I could read the quartet only after having seen the mini. Kudos to Ken Taylor for his adaptation of a convoluted epic. Definitely a Herculean task. And kudos to the directors (Christopher Morahan & Jim O'Brien) who despite the mammoth task of filming a period piece did it with panache. Anyone who has worked in India (especially a foreign crew) would know just how frustrating an experience it can be. Yet, they've come out with a magnificent product. Truly a classic. Fine viewing. Definitely recommended.
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The Jewel shines...
ronnalex31 July 2003
The haunting story of Paul Scott's THE RAJ QUARTET brought to the screen with flawless acting and character interpretation. While the story is not a pleasant one, the screenplay captures the scope of the problems created by nearly 300 years of British presence in India. Peggy Ashcroft, Fabia Drake, Judy Parfitt, Art Malik and above all Tim Pigott-Smith, to mention but a very few of the cast, create memorable characters that come alive on the screen and will live on in your memories. Superb...
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Complex and moving
Kathryn-324 May 2001
I really loved this series. I think I've seen the whole series about 7 or 8 times, and I see something new each time.

The Jewel in the Crown tells the story of individual people trying to live their lives in a world in the process of changing beyond recognition. The acting quality and execution of the entire production has never been equaled. You really believe that these people lived in this extraordinary time, the beginning of the end of the British Empire. Some are able to move forward into the new world, some are destroyed, and all are changed forever.

I actually think that the series is better than the sum of the books, but nothing beats the first book in the series (The Jewel in the Crown) as a stand-alone novel. It's all about human perspective. Similar to the film Rashomon (or Courage Under Fire), the novel Jewel in the Crown tells a story from every point of view except one. You have to think about what that means. The series captures this effect differently, but it does so beautifully.
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Breathtaking, tragic, complex, exhilerating, mysterious...
patnet12 September 2002
...just as I imagine India during these "interesting times". The plot (greatly simplified here!) revolves about a number of English expatriots living in India at the time of the Raj and during the difficult struggle for independence. The acting is superb, particularly Peggy Ashcroft; and as in so many British productions, great care is taken to cast brilliant actors in even the smallest of roles.

The many characters' lives intersect in the most surprising ways, there are regular dollops of action and violence--this is riveting television! I remember receiving only a sound broadcast for one episode--no picture--and I sat by the screen for the full hour in rapt attention.

There is much to learn about human nature, both the dark and the joyful, and about the politics of imperialism, and about an awe-inspiring country and culture, from this beautifully crafted series. Highly recommended.
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A crowning jewel of a to see before it is too late
Amy Adler18 July 2007
Daphne Manners (Susan Wooldridge) is an orphan, having lost her father and brother in the early going of World War II. She travels to Mayapore, India to work in a local hospital and to visit her aunt who lives in a neighboring community. Unexpectedly, she meets Hari Kumar (Art Malik), an Indian gentleman who was raised in England from the age of two, at the best schools, but whose own father died and left him penniless. Although an alliance is strictly taboo at the time, the two of them fall in love. Soon after, Daphne is raped by hooligans and chief of police Ronald Merrick (Tim Pigott-Smith) wrongly arrests and tortures Kumar. With Gandhi already urging Indians to break away from Britain, the rape and bungled arrest serves as a lightning rod for acute trouble between the Brits and the Indian population. Meanwhile, Merrick becomes a rising star in the British army, two sisters, Sarah and Susan, search for personal happiness in the crumbling empire, a former missionary lady (Peggy Ashcroft) endures the loss of her greatest friend and, subsequently, her mind, because of prejudice, and Guy Perron (Charles Dance) becomes a witness to the lethal personality of Merrick. How will over "three hundred years" of British rule in India end? Did you say badly? This lengthy but outstanding series has really too many happenings to relate in a brief review. Yet, the relationship between Daphne and Hari is the springboard to everything else that occurs in this complex and lovely story. The British had, and still do have, much to offer the world as a civilization but its empire reached too far when it trampled under the basic rights of its conquered people and territories, as seen in this examination of India. All of the actors in this film are beyond compare, with Pigott-Smith a wonder as the evil and misguided police commander. The scenery is likewise breathtaking, the costumes are authentic to the times, and the cinematography is very beautiful. If you have any interest whatsoever in the history of the world, or in the basic struggle of the human race, you should make time for this monumental series, as soon as possible. It is a richly rewarding, touching and truthful look at a pivotal time in the history of mankind.
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excellent 1980s drama
didi-58 December 2005
This mammoth series does a beautiful job of bringing Paul Scott's novels 'The Raj Quartet' to the screen.

The scene is the period of time at the end of the British Raj, the characters are well drawn and believable (particularly Tim Pigott-Smith as the racist and intolerant Captain Merrick, a complex character, and Art Malik as the intellectual Indian Hari Kumar). Scott's novel was an engrossing read and 'Jewel' does it proud.

One of those series which goes in all sorts of different directions before it comes to its moving and surprising conclusion. One of the great pieces of British TV drama.
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The television masterpiece
mjtsmm202718 August 2003
What can you say about this inimatable piece of work which stunned the UK in the mid eighties? British television drama has always had a reputation for being superior as it tends not to be involved in sensationalism or commercial value. Maybe today this theory doesn't stand up too well but The Jewel in the Crown is one of the most beautifully written and performed pieces of work that the current generations could hope for. Forget about fast pace and update technology as this is a serious historical piece about Britains' end in India during WW11 and thus the de-mobilising of the 'polite society' class abroad. Cinematically photographed and performed to perfection, with Tim Piggott-Smith, Judy Parfitt and Peggy Ashcroft stealing the honours. This was repeated on UK TV in 1997 and everyone agreed how it had lost none of its power and dramatic pull. This will stay with you forever.
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jordbl10 August 2008
The Jewel in the Crown is in my opinion one of the best series ever. The story unfolds, characters come in and out the only common denominator in all episodes is a despicable man, viewed from other nuclear stories. The acting is superb and contrary to many comments here, quite genuine, certain British people WERE like that. The gestures, actions and facial expressions mean more than what is actually being said. What is hilarious, however, is reading some comments posted here as if all stories should follow a strictly "physical-action-sequence" of A kills B and jealous C falls in love with D, but in the end all marry and are happy ever after. Thanks to BBC, Granada and others, there are series and films that make us interpret, feel and think beyond what we see on the screen or else we'll all end up left watching "Th Incredible Hulk"
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A True Masterpiece
tristram-418 October 2000
With a cast that includes Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Geraldine James, Rachel Kempson, Judy Parfit and many more what else can you expect. This very well written adaptation of Paul Scott's "The Raj Quartet" demonstrates the quality of British TV Drama. There are some unforgettable scenes in this series that make it a must see.
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A super soap
pekinman16 January 2005
It was brave of Yorkshire Television to take on a filmed adaptation of Paul Scott's massive novel 'The Jewel in the Crown'. All-in-all they did a good job of it. Wisely the script focuses in on the personal relationships within the context of a changing India. The jarring complexities of "old" India rubbing up against the modernizing influences of the British Raj is vividly conveyed, mostly in the smaller, quieter moments, as when Harry Kumar takes Daphne Manners to visit his aunt and the behavior of the servants and the Rajput princess with whom Daphne is living.

It's true that there is a great deal of dialog, in a soap opera-ish sense. There are times in some of the later episodes when I thought I was watching some bit of trash on TV on a Wednesday afternoon, but then I'd focus in on what the characters were saying and realize that it was deep and important stuff. You have to pay attention to 'The Jewel in the Crown' or it does indeed become a muddle and a bore. If you lose the train of thought you will not be rescued by brilliant cinematography or sound-track because both are inferior, which is a big shame. Perhaps it is the awful A&E dvds that are the problem, something that could be rectified with a remastering of the original films and sound- track. As it stands the sound is execrable, oftentimes the music and background rumble drowning out the speaking voices of the main characters. The musical score itself is wonderful and the actual camera-work is very good, which makes the loss of a good picture and decent sound-track all the more frustrating.

As for the acting, the thing is chocked-full of fine performances. Some of the characters are indeed a little too clichéd and, in the case of Ronald Merrick, completely over the top, but Merrick's character works, as a dramatic contrivance, to add to the melodrama of the story... something which may or may not have been the purpose of Scott's creation in the first place. But that's entertainment!

My favorite performances were Eric Portman's crafty old Russian emigré, Count Bronowsky. Porter was a great actor and is greatly missed. I savor his every appearance in 'The Jewel in the Crown' because he evokes the old Northern world of honor and good breeding, now extinct. His character makes me wish for a great film of the true story of the White Russians who had to flee the Bolsheviks in the first two decades of the 20th century, for such disparate places as India, Paris and Manchuria.

Susan Wooldridge is superb as Daphne Manners, ditto Art Malik as Harry Kumar. I enjoyed Charles Dance's upper-crust but manly Sergeant and found Derrick Branche's Ahmed Kasim a fascinating and seductive person. Peggy Ashcroft's old missionary lady is heart-breaking in the loss of her simple faith in God, conveying, in the end, a powerful and sibylline persona. It is good to see Rachel Kempson (Mrs Michael Redgrave) in one of her last roles on film. Tim Pigot-Smith manages to make an unbelievable character, Ronald Merrick, human, well, almost. He's a monster of bigotry, jealousy and class envy, and Pigot-Smith plays him so convincingly that it is difficult to imagine a more effective portrayal of pure evil by anyone else. Pigot-Smith steals the show, on the whole.

This TV series is definitely worth owning on DVD; if only A&E hadn't tossed it off in such a haphazard manner. Still, it's better 'n nuttin'.
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Absorbing, well-acted period piece
preynold27 June 2001
Can't figure out why the negative comments here. Did these people really watch the series?? The overall rating given by viewers is far more accurate. Have viewed this 3 times, including once on TV. The best mini series I have ever seen. Outstanding performances. (True that Ronald Merrick is stereotyped, but this is how he is in Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, the books on which the series is based -- well worth reading.) The love story of Daphne Manners and Hari Kumar is poignant and lovely, and it is an interesting foil for the other "love stories" that follow (Susan and her husband, Sarah and the soldier, Sarah and Guy, Mildred and the colonel) -- all pale considerably. The racial prejudice is quite accurately depicted. All in all, a very satisfying viewing experience. (Probably women would like this more than men.)
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Superb reading
madeleinebecker14 February 2006
Saw the TV series first and then read all 4 books of the Raj Quartet. The books and the series are masterful and I have now purchased the DVD. The BBC and Masterpiece Theatre know how to present history. The actors are superb. I recommend the books and the series highly to anyone interested in history. What I found particularly interesting is the relationship between the Indians and the English Colonials and how the relationship changes over the course of the story which spans from 1939 - 1948 roughly. Paul Scott the author lived in India for a number of years and he fairly and painstakingly recreates the nuances, the feelings that flow between the occupier and occupied. It has been a pleasure to discover this series and the books. If you have not read them or seen the series, you are in for a great journey and treat.
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Positively a masterpiece!
Henryk von Babenberg3 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Arguably the best television series ever made, it captures perfectly the spirit of the novel and the time in which it takes place, a time in which the British were slowly losing India without properly realizing it till it was too late. The photography is breathtaking and the performances are outstanding by everyone. Dame Peggy Ashcroft as the haunted "servant" who has been accepted as a companion by Fabia Drake but who is later asked to leave when her protector dies and also by Geraldine James who slowly sees her world crumble before her eyes, unable to do anything about it, but finding at least SOME kind of solace in Tim Piggot-Smith's arms. Especially the first episode with the tender love scene between Susan Wooldridge and Art Malik (both utterly fantastic) is superb and not until much much later does the horrid truth about what happened that night occur to us.

In short: a pure joy, which keeps you riveted to the screen from start to end. I have watched the entire series twice and will surely watch it again and again, if only to marvel at the performances and the craftsmanship of the production.
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The best thing ever to appear on TV
bookish42-814-59178716 April 2015
I first read all the books which are just marvelous and then I saw the TV adaptation. Can't count the number of times I have watched it. Watched the series rebroadcast on local public TV station and then binge watched it all over again.

The characters are unforgettable and so very realistic. The line "there's nothing I can do" appears over and over again to portray the impossibility of standing in the way of the change about to come over India.

Scott did a superb job of portraying the Raj, the Muslims, the Hindus, the English air of superiority and the class system of the English, all the while depicting the end of the Raj and the beginning of the new India.

It is also a feast for the eyes, showing many beautiful locations in India and depicting the railroad travel of the day in a fascinating way.
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A trip in the past and History
mmunier23 September 2014
During lunch I usually turn the TV on...And there was that beautiful story I decided to record it and watch it latter. I thought it was a movie and this got me to 12 midnight but abruptly stop with the credit? This is when I realised it was part of a TV series so search the net to find more about it. This episode unlike its TV programme was called "Crossing the River" and luckily the first one. Even more lucky I found the next episode was on the day after I made my search several days after the first screening! I know very little about India beside the film "Passage to India" but this grubbed me from the start, it started with my year of birth over 70 years ago India under British rules and about to worry of Japanese attack.... But the life of these days was so well represented and also the culture clash worsen by cross culture the is an Indian who has been "Britishised" and back in India has to deal with the conflict. These days I have much trouble to follow a story without subtitles and deplore greatly there weren't any. It's such a shame as many people of my age have hearing difficulty I'm surprise broadcaster can't see this as I would have thought such work is directed mainly to my age group. Just the same it's very enjoyable.
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I Liked this series.
trevillian13 February 2002
This work kept me interested throughout, especilly enjoyed the photography and the insights into the Indian culture. Tim was totally evil and the girl was wimpy, but people are that way!!!! Sometimes your heroes aren't all that heroic, You don't have to love and hate every character in the show. If any fault at all, the characters could have been even more developed than this mini-series did them, and there could have been more explaination of some of the traditions of the Indian people. (like the Sutee scene.) Over all I enjoyed this series and rewatch and pick up new things every couple of years.
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Excellent Depiction of the Last Days of British India
montferrato29 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
You do not see series like this anymore.

The Plot is superb, the actors are fantastic, and the "Last Days of the Empire atmosphere" is actually very good.

If you are looking for some action, this is not your TV serial. It is a drama, and it is slow. However, the characters are superbly developed, and are extremely real.

The story goes very deep into issues like racism, elitism, and the fears of a crumbling and hypocritical society. For some reason, the story also touches sexual repression, homosexuality, and sadism. There are even some veiled hints of lesbianism. While sex is not really the main theme, it is a recurrent part of the atmosphere in the series. The story starts with the life of a young, eccentric and idealist white & aristocratic British woman who is raped by a gang of Indian thugs. As you can imagine, the British establishment does not take it well and soon a scapegoat is found and blamed. The Scapegoat is subjected to a sadistic torture by a psychopathic British policeman who later joins the military. Funny enough, the British torturer is a repressed homosexual who enjoys inflicting pain and gets relief having sex with young Indian guys "Bazaar Style".

Terry Porter as the Russian Count is by far the best character of the whole series. I take my hat before such a superb actor. Again, the Russian Count is described in the series as an "European Pederast".

However, as I have said before, it is not really about sex. It is just a portrait of British colonial society in the last days of the empire. Very good, highly recommendable.
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I really wanted to love it, but I didn't
Vonna5 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I really wanted to love this series, and at first, It drew me in for the first few episodes, but then after that and by the ending, I was left with a feeling of lack of tying in of the story. We begin the story with a set of characters that then changes. New characters are introduced, such as miss manners aunt, but then later on, there is really no tie in at the end. It didn't make sense to me. We also hear that Hari Kumar is released from jail eventually, but it is rather anticlimactic. We never know what ends up happening to miss manners aunt and the child of Miss manners and kumar. In the end the "bad guy" gets it, but again it's all rather anticlimactic. no justice really was done, and this story is begging for justice. I didn't read the novels, so I have no idea how true to the novels the series is, but I was completely let down by the second half and feel I wasted hours of my life watching it.
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