In 1939, young Oliver, Calypso, Polly and Walter visit friends and family in Cornwall. Spanish Civil War is over and WW2 has begun, so they enjoy their love life while they can. Decades later, they gather again, this time for a funereal.
Based on a little known 1848 novel by Anne Bronte, Tara Fitzgerald stars as an enigmatic young woman who moves to 19th Century Yorkshire with a young son. Distancing herself from everyone ... See full summary »
George 'Beau' Brummel, a penniless but witty London gentleman, maintains a refined lifestyle with his loyal servant, cook Robinson. Only the friendship of the unpopular Hanoverian heir and ... See full summary »
In 1939 Hortense, illegitimate but intelligent and ambitious, is brought up on Jamaica with the family of charismatic, free-thinking Michael, who joins the Air Force when war breaks out and... See full summary »
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Presents the lives and loves of a family of cousins from 1939 to the present. Follows very closely the Mary Wesley novel. Begins with a funeral and uses the reminiscences of those gathered to fill in details in the lives of Richard and Helena and their nieces and nephews. Written by
A story about a family (and associated friends) where most of the characters are either selfish or inadequate seems an unlikely hit, but I continue to find this one of my favorite winter evening viewings. The story is told, as in the book, with flash-forwards that help crystallize your opinions of the characters and their motivations. With promiscuous behavior throughout, various unconventional relationships (Polly and the twins, Max and his town wife/country wife etc), it would have been all too easy for the series to dissolve into an orgy of explicit sex; this was, after all, made by Channel 4, who can teach HBO a thing or too about the subject! It runs along a pace, and as each episode ends, the temptation to just press play and watch the next is strong.
The performances are wonderful. I loved Felicity Kendall as the bad-tempered matriarch in the flash-forwards. Jennifer Ehle is, of course, delectable, and completely gorgeous, and acts the pants off everyone. Her accent is a wonderful mids-40s upper-class English, taken straight from Brief Encounter and the like. I didn't realize until today that she was born in North Carolina, I had her marked an English rose! Tara Fitzgerald plays Polly, the most likable character, a strong, self-minded and tolerant person. The male characters are weaker, but Oliver Cotton and the late Paul Eddington make the best of the material they're given.
The production is great - period detail is excellent, although perhaps the grimness of war on the Home Front is not given enough emphasis. However, these are privileged people, they would have had it better than the masses simply because they had more to start with.
You can watch this series over and over, like rereading a favorite book.
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