Adapted from the novel Lost Empires' released in conjunction with original telecast. In 1913 young Richard Herncastle joins his Uncle Nick's magic act and is introduced to the enchanted ... See full summary »

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Series cast summary:
 Richard Herncastle (7 episodes, 1986)
Gillian Bevan ...
 Cissie Mapes (7 episodes, 1986)
 Nick Ollanton (7 episodes, 1986)
 Barney (7 episodes, 1986)
Ted Morris ...
 Sam Hayes (7 episodes, 1986)
Neil Boorman ...
 Ben Hayes (7 episodes, 1986)
 Julie Blane (6 episodes, 1986)
Francesca McGregor ...
 Nonie Colmar (5 episodes, 1986)
Jean Marie Segal ...
 Gustav Colmar (5 episodes, 1986)
John Ballanger ...
 Andre Colmar (5 episodes, 1986)
Larbi Slemane ...
 Jean Colmar (5 episodes, 1986)
 Tommy Beamish (4 episodes, 1986)
 Nancy Ellis (4 episodes, 1986)
Emil Wolk ...
 Ricarlo (4 episodes, 1986)
Anthony Newlands ...
 Hubert Courtenay (4 episodes, 1986)
Rio Fortune ...
 The ragtime three (3 episodes, 1986)
Mike Mosebury ...
 The ragtime three (3 episodes, 1986)
Claude Walloon ...
 The ragtime three (3 episodes, 1986)
Brenda Larenty ...
 The Montanas (3 episodes, 1986)
Miguel ...
 The Montanas (3 episodes, 1986)
Stephen Brigden ...
 Bob Hodson (3 episodes, 1986)
Jane Arden ...
 Susie Hodson (3 episodes, 1986)
Bruce Morrison ...
 Ambrose (3 episodes, 1986)
Mick Walter ...
 Philip Tewby / ... (3 episodes, 1986)
John Asquith ...
 Esmond (3 episodes, 1986)


Adapted from the novel Lost Empires' released in conjunction with original telecast. In 1913 young Richard Herncastle joins his Uncle Nick's magic act and is introduced to the enchanted world of the British music hall. Traveling from one city to the next, assisting at conjuring acts and disappearing acts, Richard comes to know romance, politics and high adventure. The next year, in a true and terrifying vanishing act, the guns of August blast away that world forever. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

24 October 1986 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Los imperios perdidos  »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Richard Herncastle: [narrating] Christmas eve - my first away from home. Not that I had a home any more. But Christmas is the time for remembering it - and loneliness stabs like a pain.
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They Didn't Believe Me
Words by Herbert Reynolds
Music by Jerome Kern
First Published 1914
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User Reviews

recreating a lost world
8 June 2016 | by See all my reviews

In WWI, British soldier Richard Herncastle (Colin Firth) recognizes performer Nancy Ellis on the front. He is hit by the shelling as she cries out to get help for him. Before the war, Richard loses his mother and is recruited by his uncle Nick who plays magician Ganga Dun. They go from town to town in the traveling Empire Theatre. Richard finds romance and adventure in the short time before the war. That's where he meets Nancy performing in the first act.

This is impeccably made. It is well-costumed and gives a great sense of the old variety theater world. It is also one of the last performances of the late Sir Laurence Olivier in a minor role as a fading comedian well past his usefulness. The character is losing his mind and Olivier is great. I can do without Firth's narration. Firth does a cool romantic performance. He is the personification of a beautiful heartthrob. I'm not usually a fan of narrations and this one seems to keep some distance. The story can meander. It's a long, winding road. Overall, it's a compelling recreation of this lost empire.

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