Screen Two (1985–2002)
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Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a young seaman, who, though ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Emma Roberts ...


Eight years earlier, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a young seaman, who, though promising, had poor family connections. When her father rents out the family estate to Admiral Croft, Anne is thrown into company with Frederick, because his sister is Mrs. Croft. Frederick is now a rich and successful Captain, and a highly eligible bachelor. Whom will he marry? One of Anne's sister's husband's sisters? Or will he and Anne rekindle the old flame? Written by John Oswalt <>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

16 April 1995 (UK)  »

Box Office


$5,462,325 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The teal velvet Spencer and matching bonnet Felicity Dean (Mrs. Clay) wears to visit Lady Dalrymple are the same ones worn by Emma Pierson (Fanny Dorrit) in Little Dorrit (2008). The bonnet is also worn by Greta Scacchi (Mrs. Weston) in the final scene of Emma (1996). See more »


At the dinner at the Musgrove's, the Musgrove girls read from the Navy List that the Laconia is a 74 gun frigate. Frigates of that era had at a maximum around 44 guns. A ship with 74 guns would have been a "ship of the line". See more »


Anne Elliot: But their minds are so dissimilar.
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The Dusky Night
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User Reviews

Beautifully observed portrayal of Jane Austen's mature tale of devotion
14 February 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Following in the BBC's fine tradition of producing outstanding costume dramas through the 1970's and 1980's, including versions of Jane Austen's novels, this Bafta award-winning co-production, with WGBH and Sony amongst others, of `Persuasion' (her final complete work published mid rewrite in 1818, the year after her death), was made in 1995 with a stellar cast of British stage actors, many from the Royal Shakespeare Company with numerous TV credits.

The film's events converge on the time Napoleon has been banished to Elba and the Battle of Waterloo of 1815 is still a year away. Among the servicemen returning home is Captain Frederick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds) who has been at sea for eight years since Anne Elliot's (Amanda Root) rejection of his marriage proposal. The Captain is now a man of prosperity and social rank while his former nineteen-year-old love interest has matured into a ‘faded and thin' old maid of twenty-seven in service to her family. Anne has lived to regret her mistake in being persuaded by her friend and patroness, Lady Russell (Susan Fleetwood, `Heat and Dust', who sadly died the year `Persuasion' was released), to refuse Wentworth as a man of unsuitable temperament. Whilst his affection would now seem to be directed towards her brother-in-law's sister, Louisa Musgrove (Emma Roberts), Anne's only romantic hope lies in the dubious and underhand attentions of her cousin William Elliot (an obsequious Samuel West, who was memorably the ill-fated Leonard Bast in `Howards End'). However, the accident on the Cobb at Lyme Regis requires Anne's sensible advice on how to handle the crisis and eventually leads to a second chance for her. Incidentally the Cobb was to play another starring role in John Fowles' `The French Lieutenant's Woman', with Karel Reisz' 1981 dramatic movie version embellishing it with a strikingly cloaked Meryl Streep braving the elements, ensuring that it will remain a tourist attraction in perpetuity.

Ostensibly with concern over the intellectual inequality of Captain Benwick's sudden attachment to Louisa after the accident, Captain Wentworth makes the impassioned declaration to Anne regarding his friend's broken hearted loss of his fiancee: `A man does not recover from such a devotion to such a woman, he ought not, he does not', but is patently reflecting on his own lasting strong feelings for Anne. Surely it is wiser to recognise when adoration for one person is no longer appropriate and a chance may lie with someone else. The supposed difference between the sexes regarding fidelity is discussed with Jane Austen adding the comment to her argument that the authors who view women as more fickle, have all been men. This last remark in the film is rather improbably but modernly given to Anne, who also makes the bold claim for her sex that it is capable of `loving longest when all hope is gone.' It is not a question of gender but of genetic makeup and whether you are truly monogamous, as Western religions and society would decree us to be, or true to yourself.

Although comfortable, life must have been dreadfully dull at times for the women in this world who could not relieve their tedium as their menfolk would by going off to war. This observation is endorsed by the couple of scenes depicting a concert and an evening of card playing, tinged with amber candle light infusing gentle nostalgic warmth to the proceedings which is at odds with the atmosphere of bored ritualistic entertainment. The different levels of lighting are used to subtle effect here and contrast with the cold glare of Ang Lee's brilliantly lit interiors in his working of Austen's first novel `Sense and Sensibility', also produced in the same year.

Amanda Root (`Mortimer's Law', and as Fanny Price, another of Austen's independent women, in `Mansfield Park' for BBC Radio 4) is brilliant as the quiet understated heroine with luminosity to her face that beautifully transcribes the full gamut of emotions she experiences from servitude to the blossoming of love. Her co-star, Ciaran Hinds (`The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover') is equally gifted of expression, with a barely repressed anger and resentment towards Anne, under the guise of curt civility that eventually he is forced to recognise masks his continuing passion for her. Interestingly over the next two years both leads went onto appear in different versions of Jane Eyre, with Amanda Root well cast as the kindly schoolteacher Miss Temple in Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 version and Ciaran Hinds as a suitably anguished Mr Rochester in Robert Young's 1997 TV adaptation.

Jane Austen's fable may be recognised as the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, of a good hearted and dutiful daughter put upon by her foolish and snobbish father and cruel sisters, but who is eventually saved by her true prince. With great effect, the author adds to the romance her wit and sense of humour to explore the characteristics of the genteel world she lived in with all its human frailties. Nick Dear's screenplay, together with Roger Michell's necessarily less frantic direction than in `Notting Hill', adroitly captures the essence of Austen's narrative to provide one of the finest visual interpretations of her work. Strong supporting performances are also given by the ensemble of Corin Redgrave (`Enigma') as the supercilious father; Sophie Thompson (`Emma') and Phoebe Nicholls (`The Elephant Man') as the far from ugly sisters of hypochondriac Mary and haughty Elizabeth; and Fiona Shaw (`Jane Eyre') and John Woodvine (`Wuthering Heights') as the companionable Crofts.

Obviously complying with its `Beautiful People' culture the original cover of the American video version replaced the demure leads with two glamorous models, as a spokeswoman for Columbia Tristar in California has said, `I guess to make it a little more seductive to us over here'. Nonetheless, it is pleasing to read that this film was well received in the States especially as it remained true to its British identity, and therefore set an exemplary standard in not pandering to an anticipated overseas market by using well-known international stars.

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