Anthony Powell's 12 volume novel sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time" has been dramatised for television.

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Series cast summary:
Gillian Barge ...
 Mrs. Erdleigh / ... (4 episodes, 1997)
 Bob Duport / ... (4 episodes, 1997)
 Widmerpool (4 episodes, 1997)
Robin Bailey ...
 Uncle Alfred (3 episodes, 1997)
 Peter Templer (3 episodes, 1997)
 Moreland (3 episodes, 1997)
Richard Pasco ...
 Sir Magnus Donners (3 episodes, 1997)
 Nicholas Jenkins (3 episodes, 1997)
 Charles Stringham (3 episodes, 1997)
 Mona (3 episodes, 1997)
 Jean (3 episodes, 1997)
 JG Quiggin (3 episodes, 1997)
Grant Thatcher ...
 Mark Members (3 episodes, 1997)
Sarah Badel ...
 Lady Molly (2 episodes, 1997)
 Sillery (2 episodes, 1997)
Emma Fielding ...
 Isobel (2 episodes, 1997)
 Le Bas (2 episodes, 1997)
 Uncle Giles (2 episodes, 1997)
Anastasia Hille ...
 Matilda (2 episodes, 1997)
 Odo Stevens (2 episodes, 1997)
 Pamela Flitton (2 episodes, 1997)
 Audrey Maclintick (2 episodes, 1997)
Michael Williams ...
 Ted Jeavons (2 episodes, 1997)
Geraldine Alexander ...
 Susan (2 episodes, 1997)
 Miss Weedon (2 episodes, 1997)
 David Pennistone / ... (2 episodes, 1997)
Barbara Durkin ...
 Betty (2 episodes, 1997)
 Sunny Farebrother (2 episodes, 1997)
Osmund Bullock ...
 Erridge (2 episodes, 1997)
Caroline Harker ...
 Priscilla (2 episodes, 1997)
 Colonel Flores (2 episodes, 1997)
Bryan Pringle ...
 Smith (2 episodes, 1997)


Anthony Powell's 12 volume novel sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time" has been dramatised for television.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

9 October 1997 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Horos sti mousiki tou hronou  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(4 parts)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the final segment, when Widmerpool is kissing the feet of the disciples, the edge of his phony hairpiece is clearly visible on the back of his head. See more »


Twentieth Century Blues
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User Reviews

majestic mini-series
23 June 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This television adaptation, by Hugh Whitmore, of Anthony Powell's twelve-volume book condenses all the action of five decades, and over a hundred characters, into eight hours. We first meet the main characters – Nick Jenkins, our constant narrator; Kenneth Widmerpool; Charles Stringham; and Peter Templar – when they are at school together. Through the years we watch them move through their tangled lives, which end in tragedy for some, happiness for others.

Making an impact within the cast are James Purefoy as Nick Jenkins (playing him from university to the end of World War II); Jonathan Cake as Peter Templar; Claire Skinner as Jean Duport; Grant Thatcher as Mark Members; James Fleet as Hugh Moreland; Zoë Wanamaker as Audrey MacLintock; John Gielgud as St John Clarke; Miranda Richardson as Pamela Fritton; David Yelland as Jenkins' father; Edward Fox as Uncle Giles; and Michael Williams as Ted Jeavons.

But – the best performance within this series by a mile is from the wonderful Simon Russell-Beale, managing to turn the truly horrible Widmerpool into a rounded character who is totally convincing, whether as a figure of fun at school, as a pompous major in the war, as a humiliated husband, or as a free spirit dancing.

One little quibble would be – why did they suddenly change the casting for Nick Jenkins and no other main character in the final episode? J C Quiggin, Odo Stephens, Mark Members, Widmerpool and others remain the same actors made up to look older. Jean and Isabel (Mrs Jenkins) are also recast but this isn't as noticeable. So, after two and a half episodes getting used to James Purefoy as Nick we suddenly have to adapt to John Standing. He's effective, but I think this change was a mistake.

So, is this adaptation any good? It is true that sometimes you lose track of who's who (who they were related to, who they married, where they met) but there are numerous scenes of interest – not all directly witnessed by Nick. The musical soundtrack is superb and well-chosen. Having eight hours to tell the story means that things don't have to progress at a breakneck pace, and if some aspects come off better than others, nothing really fails. ‘Dance to the Music of Time' is an engrossing and superior piece of TV drama.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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