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Brideshead Revisited (TV serial)

Brideshead Revisited (TV serial)

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Brideshead Revisited is a 1981 British television serial
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 produced by Granada Television
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

 for broadcast by the ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 network. The teleplay is based on Evelyn Waugh
Evelyn Waugh
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh , known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer...

's novel Brideshead Revisited
Brideshead Revisited
Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel "deals with what is theologically termed 'the operation of Grace', that is to say, the unmerited and unilateral act of love by...

(1945). Although John Mortimer
John Mortimer
Sir John Clifford Mortimer, CBE, QC was a British barrister, dramatist, screenwriter and author.-Early life:...

 receives the adaptation credit on film, Valerie Grove's A Voyage Round John Mortimer reveals that Mortimer's script was never used and that the series was actually written by the producer Derek Granger and others. The bulk of the serial was directed by Charles Sturridge
Charles Sturridge
Charles B. G. Sturridge is an English screenwriter, producer, stage, television and film director.-Personal life:Sturridge was born in London, England to Alyson Bowman Vaughan and Jerome Sturridge. He was educated at Stonyhurst College...

, with a few sequences filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg
Michael Lindsay-Hogg
Sir Michael Edward Lindsay-Hogg, 5th Baronet is a British television and stage director and an occasional writer and actor.-Background and early work:...

.

Broadcast in eleven episodes, the serial premiered on ITV in the UK on 12 October 1981, on CBC Television
CBC Television
CBC Television is a Canadian television network owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the national public broadcaster.Although the CBC is supported by public funding, the television network supplements this funding with commercial advertising revenue, in contrast to CBC Radio which are...

 in Canada on 19 October 1981, and as part of the Great Performances
Great Performances
Great Performances, a television series devoted to the performing arts, has been telecast on Public Broadcasting Service public television since 1972...

series on PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 in the United States on 18 January 1982.

In 2000, the serial placed tenth on a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes
100 Greatest British Television Programmes
The BFI TV 100 is a list compiled in 2000 by the British Film Institute , chosen by a poll of industry professionals, to determine what were the greatest British television programmes of any genre ever to have been screened....

 compiled by the British Film Institute
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to:-Cinemas:The BFI runs the BFI Southbank and IMAX theatre, both located on the south bank of the River Thames in London...

, based on a poll of industry professionals.

Episodes


Episode 1: "Et in Arcadia Ego" (Original UK airdate 12 October 1981; 100 minutes)
In the spring of 1944, disillusioned Army captain Charles Ryder is moving his company to a new Brigade Headquarters at a secret location he discovers is Brideshead, once home to the Marchmain family and the scene of both pleasant and anguished visits for the younger Charles.

Seeing the house for the first time in many years prompts a recollection of Charles' first meeting with Lord Sebastian Flyte, the Marchmains' younger son, at Oxford University in 1922, and the rest of the narrative flashes back to that time forward. At Oxford, two young men quickly bond and, although his cousin warns him to avoid Sebastian and his inner circle of friends, Charles is fascinated by them, particularly flamboyantly foppish Anthony Blanche. Short on funds, Charles finds himself fitfully spending the summer holidays in London with his indifferent and rigid father Edward until an urgent message from Sebastian sends him to Brideshead, where Charles is introduced to a world of wealth and privilege dominated by a powerful devotion to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

.

Episode 2: "Home and Abroad" (Original UK airdate 20 October 1981; 53 minutes)
At Brideshead, Charles is introduced to Sebastian's younger sisters Julia and Cordelia and his older brother Brideshead ('Bridey'). The two young men decide to accept an invitation to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 extended by Sebastian's father, Lord Marchmain, who lives there with his mistress Cara.

Episode 3: "The Bleak Light of Day" (Original UK airdate 27 October 1981; 53 minutes)
Back at Oxford, Sebastian learns his mother has arranged for him to be tutored - and carefully supervised - by Mr. Samgrass. Lady Marchmain visits the university and implores Charles to be a good influence on her rowdy son. Invited to a charity ball in London by Julia, Charles and Sebastian escape to a seedy gentlemen's club in Soho
Soho
Soho is an area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London. Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation for sex shops as well as night life and film industry. Since the early 1980s, the area has undergone considerable...

. After a drunken Sebastian crashes their car, the political and social power of ambitious MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 Rex Mottram and Mr. Samgrass result in Sebastian being let off with only a fine.

Episode 4: "Sebastian Against the World" (Original UK airdate 3 November 1981; 53 minutes)
Sebastian's rapid descent into alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

 leads him into constant trouble, despite the ever-watchful eye of Mr. Samgrass. During Easter holiday at Brideshead, Charles tries to reason with a constantly inebriated Sebastian, who accuses him being a spy for Lady Marchmain. Sebastian's failure to reform leads to his dismissal from Oxford, and a bereft Charles returns to London to ask his father permission to leave the university in order to study art abroad.

Episode 5: "A Blow Upon a Bruise" (Original UK airdate 10 November 1981; 51 minutes)
Charles returns from his art studies in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and journeys to Brideshead for the 1925 New Year's celebration. Sebastian has returned from an excursion to the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 with Mr. Samgrass, but photographs of the holiday and comments made by the two clearly indicate Sebastian frequently went off on his own to satisfy his hedonistic
Hedonism
Hedonism is a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure .-Etymology:The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" ....

 needs. Sebastian agrees to participate in a hunt but, knowing he plans to make an early escape to a pub, he asks Charles for money and his friend acquiesces. When Sebastian returns home heavily inebriated at the end of the day, a distressed Lady Marchmain questions Charles. Learning he financed Sebastian's drinking binge, she rebukes him for enabling him, and Charles leaves Brideshead, fully expecting never to return.

Episode 6: "Julia" (Original UK airdate 17 November 1981; 51 minutes)
Charles returns to Paris, where he is visited by Rex Mottram, who is searching for Sebastian and the money he stole before he disappeared. Rex discusses the financial woes of the Marchmain family and announces he intends to marry Julia nonetheless. Lady Marchmain reluctantly consents to the marriage as long as Rex converts to Catholicism, a condition he is willing to accept. But when Bridey learns Rex has a former wife who is living, a situation the Church will not abide, he cancels the wedding, and a defiant Julia marries Rex in a Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 ceremony her family, with the exception of Cordelia, refuses to attend.

Episode 7: "The Unseen Hook" (Original UK airdate 24 November 1981; 51 minutes)
In May 1926, Charles returns to England to volunteer his services during the General Strike
1926 United Kingdom general strike
The 1926 general strike in the United Kingdom was a general strike that lasted nine days, from 4 May 1926 to 13 May 1926. It was called by the general council of the Trades Union Congress in an unsuccessful attempt to force the British government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening...

. While delivering milk in the East End
East End of London
The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is the area of London, England, United Kingdom, east of the medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Although not defined by universally accepted formal boundaries, the River Lea can be considered another boundary...

, he encounters Boy Mulcaster, who tells him Sebastian is living in Fez
Fes, Morocco
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

. Julia tells Charles her dying mother is anxious to make amends with her prodigal son, and he agrees to go to Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 and bring him home. He discovers Sebastian has been living with Kurt, a German ex-soldier discharged from the French Foreign Legion
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

 after deliberately shooting himself in the foot. Sebastian is a chronic alcoholic and has been hospitalized with pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

. Charles finds his friend emaciated and dissipated, unwilling to follow doctor's orders, and disinclined to leave Kurt alone. Before Charles departs Morocco, he learns Lady Marchmain has died.

Episode 8: "Brideshead Deserted" (Original UK airdate 1 December 1981; 52 minutes)
Bridey commissions Charles to paint four scenes of Marchmain House in London, which has been sold in order to rectify the family's financial difficulties, before it is demolished to make way for a block of flats. He is reunited with Cordelia, who regrets the ongoing dissolution of her family but assures Charles she continues to find strength in her undying faith. Cordelia recalls her mother’s reading of a Father Brown
Father Brown
Father Brown is a fictional character created by English novelist G. K. Chesterton, who stars in 52 short stories, later compiled in five books. Chesterton based the character on Father John O'Connor , a parish priest in Bradford who was involved in Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism in 1922...

 story where G. K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG was an English writer. His prolific and diverse output included philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction....

’s priest catches a thief “with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread”. Although Cordelia is alluding to Sebastian and Julia drifting away from the Church, in a foreshadowing of dramatic irony, her words also apply to the “poor agnostic” Charles. There are hints throughout the story that Charles will accept religious belief. "We must make a Catholic of you, Charles," says Lady Marchmain in Episode 3, and both she and Cordelia tell him they will pray for him. At the end of Episode 5, leaving Brideshead under a cloud, Charles vows: "'I have left behind illusion', I said to myself 'Henceforth I live in a world of three dimensions - with the aid of my five senses.'" Yet adds: "I have since learned that there is no such world . . ." Time passes and Charles spends two years in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 painting, then has an awkward reunion with his wife Celia in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 before the two sail home. On board ship, the two discover Julia is a fellow passenger.

Episode 9: "Orphans of the Storm" (Original UK airdate 8 December 1981; 53 minutes)
Celia is bedridden with chronic seasickness prompted by extremely rough seas, leaving Charles and Julia to become reacquainted, and the two become lovers before reaching Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

. Back in London, at an exhibition of her husband's latest artwork, Celia implies she knows about his affair with Julia. Anthony Blanche arrives at the gallery late and invites Charles to join him for a drink in a seedy gay bar
Gay bar
A gay bar is a drinking establishment that caters to an exclusively or predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clientele; the term gay is used as a broadly inclusive concept for LGBT and queer communities...

, where he criticizes his talent and paintings. Charles and Julia depart for Brideshead, where Rex is awaiting his wife.

Episode 10: "A Twitch Upon the Thread" (Original UK airdate 15 December 1981; 52 minutes)
Lovers for two years, Charles and Julia have divorced their respective spouses and live together, unmarried, at Brideshead. When Bridey announces his engagement, Julia suggests he invite his fiancée to Brideshead. Bridey points out that a highly moral and staunchly Catholic woman with middle-class values would never sleep under the same roof as a couple "living in sin". Bridey's comments stir extraordinary feelings of remorse and pain in Julia, revealing her long-standing Catholic guilt to Charles.

Cordelia returns from ministering to the wounded in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 with disturbing news about Sebastian's nomadic existence and steady decline over the past few years. She predicts he will die soon in the Tunisian monastery he has taken shelter in as his alcoholism consumes him.

Episode 11: "Brideshead Revisited" (Original UK airdate 22 December 1981; 90 minutes)
In 1939, World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 is imminent. After years of self-imposed exile in Venice, the terminally ill Lord Marchmain decides to return home to die. Appalled by Bridey's choice of a wife, he announces he plans to leave Brideshead to Julia and Charles. When Bridey brings a priest to visit his very weak father and perform the last rites
Anointing of the Sick (Catholic Church)
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to Catholics who because of sickness or old age are in danger of death, even if the danger is not proximate...

, Charles objects vocally, and offends Julia by harping on the question of what the sacrament actually accomplishes and what rationale there could be for performing it, especially knowing Marchmain's aversion to Catholicism. Lord Marchmain sends the priest away, then meets with his lawyers to change his will. But as Lord Marchmain weakens to the point of semi-consciousness, he finally accepts by making the sign of the Cross the absolution conditionally pronounced by the priest.

Tearfully, Julia calls off her marriage to Charles, because she does not wish “to set up a rival good to God’s”. She explains to him “that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, He won't quite despair of me in the end”. Charles, who has been moved by Lord Marchmain's final re-conversion, understands, but it breaks his heart, too.

The narrative returns to Brideshead in 1944. Charles, now a believer, visits and prays in the reopened chapel, which has been closed since Lady Marchmain's death in 1926. A twitch upon the thread has brought him to the Faith. The sanctuary lamp
Sanctuary lamp
A sanctuary lamp, altar lamp, everlasting light or eternal flame is a light that shines before the altar of sanctuaries in many denominations of Jewish and Christian places of worship. Prescribed in ] 27:20-21] of the Hebrew Bible, this icon has taken on different meanings in each of the religions...

, its symbol, burns anew.

Production


The television adaptation of Waugh's novel originally was conceived as a six-hour serial. In the summer of 1979, Lindsay-Hogg began principal photography on the island of Gozo
Gozo
Gozo is a small island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago...

, where the sequences set in Morocco, Mexico and Central America were filmed. Shortly after the cast and crew returned to England, a technician's strike brought all ITV production to a halt. By the time it was settled four months later, Lindsay-Hogg no longer was available due to a prior commitment to another project.

Lindsay-Hogg was replaced by relative novice Charles Sturridge, whose previous experience had been limited to directing episodes of Strangers
Strangers (TV series)
Strangers was a UK police drama that appeared on ITV between 1978 and 1982.After the success of the TV series The XYY Man, adapted from books by Kenneth Royce, Granada TV devised a new series to feature the regular characters of Detective Sergeant George Bulman and his assistant Detective...

and Crown Court
Crown Court (TV series)
Crown Court was an afternoon television courtroom drama produced by Granada Television for the ITV network that ran from 1972, when the Crown Court system replaced Assize courts and Quarter sessions in the legal system of England and Wales, to 1984....

. Cast contracts had to be renegotiated to take into account the extended filming period. Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons
Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many London theatre productions including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the...

, who was planning to audition for the film The French Lieutenant's Woman
The French Lieutenant's Woman (film)
The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1981 film directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by playwright Harold Pinter. It is based on the novel of the same title by John Fowles...

(1981), stipulated he would remain with Brideshead under condition he would be allowed time off to film French Lieutenant if he were cast. Rather than scrap the considerable completed footage in which the actor appeared, Granger agreed.

The break in filming was fortuitous in that Castle Howard
Castle Howard
Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, England, north of York. One of the grandest private residences in Britain, most of it was built between 1699 and 1712 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, to a design by Sir John Vanbrugh...

 and Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

, both previously unavailable, now could be used in the serial. Sturridge and Granger agreed the six-hour script eliminated enough detail of Waugh's story that its potency was compromised, and they set about expanding it to seven two-hour episodes. It was at this point that it was decided to have Charles Ryder narrate the serial as he had the novel. Olivier's tight schedule required he start immediately, but his scenes had not been written yet, and Sturridge and Granger hurried to complete them so the actor would have at least a week to learn his dialogue. Mona Washbourne
Mona Washbourne
Mona Washbourne was an English actress of stage, film and television.Mona Washbourne began her entertaining career training as a concert pianist. While performing on stage in the early 1920s, she found that she liked acting and became an actress...

 was less fortunate and received her script the day she arrived on the set to begin filming.

Shooting resumed on 5 November 1979. The week was divided into five days of filming and two days of writing. Sturridge and Granger were anxious to complete the teleplay as soon as possible, and by the time the ten-day break for Christmas ended, the script was finished. Granada Television
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

 had approved a larger budget for the extended format, and Sturridge scheduled the shooting of sequences in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, London and on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2
Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the QE2, is an ocean liner that was operated by Cunard from 1969 to 2008. Following her retirement from cruising, she is now owned by Istithmar...

. Everything was going according to plan, and then Irons was cast in French Lieutenant. Since his character is in nearly every scene of the serial, Sturridge was forced to place Brideshead on a lengthy hiatus. During this period, he edited completed scenes and continued to hone the script, although ultimately John Mortimer received sole screen credit for it. Filming resumed in September 1980. Because French Lieutenant had fallen behind schedule, Irons was forced to work on both projects simultaneously.

The Oxford scenes were filmed largely at Waugh's alma mater, Hertford College, and the rooms Charles occupies in the film were those in which Waugh lived after his second term. Portions of Wadham College and Christ Church
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

 also were used. Most of the grounds, all the major public rooms, and several rooms in the private wings of Castle Howard represented Brideshead. Bridgewater House
Bridgewater House, Westminster
Bridgewater House is at 14 Cleveland Row, Westminster, London, England. It is a Grade I listed building.The earliest known house on the site was Berkshire House built in about 1626-27 for Thomas Howard, second son of the Earl of Suffolk and Master of the Horse to Charles I of England when he was...

 in Westminster
Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

 was used for the exterior of the Marchmain House, and its interiors were filmed in Tatton Hall
Tatton Hall
Tatton Hall is a country house in Tatton Park near Knutsford, Cheshire, England . It has been designated as a Grade I listed building which is owned by the National Trust and administered in conjunction with Cheshire East Council.-History:...

. Rex and Julia's wedding was filmed in the chapel at Lyme Park
Lyme Park
Lyme Park is a large estate located south of Disley, Cheshire, England. It consists of a mansion house surrounded by formal gardens, in a deer park in the Peak District National Park...

. Venice locations included the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, the Scuola di San Rocco, and the Palazzi Barbaro
Palazzi Barbaro
The Palazzi Barbaro — also known as Palazzo Barbaro, Ca' Barbaro, and Palazzo Barbaro-Curtis — are a pair of adjoining palaces, in the San Marco district of Venice, northern Italy. They were formerly one of the homes of the patrician Barbaro family...

. The ocean-liner deck scenes were filmed on the QE2 during an actual storm, but the ship's interiors were either sets or public rooms in the Adelphi Hotel
Britannia Adelphi Hotel
The Britannia Adelphi Hotel, formerly the Adelphi Hotel, is in Ranelagh Place, Liverpool, Merseyside, England. The present building is the third hotel on the site, and has been designated by English Heritage as Grade II listed building....

 in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 and the Park Lane Hotel
Park Lane Hotel
The Park Lane Hotel is a 5 Star hotel on Piccadilly, London.The hotel was built in the 1920s in the Grand Art Deco Style by Sir Bracewell Smith. The building is a fine example with a mansard roof and Portland stone facade...

 in London.

The riot in the General Strike sequence was the last scene to be filmed, and principal photography was completed in January 1981 after forty-two weeks of filming. Post-production was scheduled for the next seven months. Early into the period, ITV decided two-hour episodes were too lengthy, and Sturridge was forced to restructure the entire serial, beginning and ending it with expanded episodes that would bookend nine episodes running slightly less than an hour each.

Principal cast


  • Jeremy Irons
    Jeremy Irons
    Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969, and has since appeared in many London theatre productions including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the...

     as Charles Ryder
  • Anthony Andrews
    Anthony Andrews
    -Life and career:Andrews was born in London, the son of Geraldine Agnes , a dancer, and Stanley Thomas Andrews, a musical arranger and musical conductor. He grew up in the North Finchley district of London...

     as Sebastian Flyte
  • Diana Quick
    Diana Quick
    -Life:Quick was born in London, England. She grew up in Dartford, Kent, the third of a dentist's four children. She was educated at Dartford Grammar School for Girls, Kent. She was greatly aided by her English teacher, Miss Davis, who encouraged her to pursue acting...

     as Julia Flyte
  • Simon Jones
    Simon Jones (actor)
    Simon Jones is an English actor, most famous for his appearances in the television and radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which he played the lead role of Arthur Dent from 1978 to 2005...

     as Lord Brideshead
  • Phoebe Nicholls
    Phoebe Nicholls
    Phoebe Nicholls is an English film, television, and stage actor. She is known for her roles as Cordelia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited and as the mother of John Merrick in The Elephant Man....

     as Cordelia Flyte
  • Claire Bloom
    Claire Bloom
    Claire Bloom is an English film and stage actress.-Early life:Bloom was born in the North London suburb of Finchley, the daughter of Elizabeth and Edward Max Blume, who worked in sales...

     as Lady Marchmain
  • Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

     as Lord Marchmain
  • John Gielgud
    John Gielgud
    Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

     as Edward Ryder

  • Charles Keating
    Charles Keating (actor)
    Charles Keating is a British actor of stage, screen, and television, and narrator of audiobooks.Of Irish Catholic extraction, Keating was born on October 22, 1941 in London, England, the son of Charles James Keating and Margaret Shevlin...

     as Rex Mottram
  • Jeremy Sinden
    Jeremy Sinden
    Jeremy Sinden was an English actor who specialised in playing eccentric military men and overgrown schoolboys.-Early life:...

     as Boy Mulcaster
  • Mona Washbourne
    Mona Washbourne
    Mona Washbourne was an English actress of stage, film and television.Mona Washbourne began her entertaining career training as a concert pianist. While performing on stage in the early 1920s, she found that she liked acting and became an actress...

     as Nanny Hawkins
  • John Grillo
    John Grillo
    John Grillo is a British actor and playwright who has appeared in many film and television productions....

     as Mr. Samgrass
  • Nickolas Grace
    Nickolas Grace
    Nickolas Grace is a British actor known for his roles on television, including Anthony Blanche in the acclaimed ITV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited and the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1980s series Robin of Sherwood...

     as Anthony Blanche
  • Jane Asher
    Jane Asher
    Jane Asher is an English actress. She has also developed a second career as a cake decorator and cake shop proprietor.-Early life:...

     as Celia Ryder
  • Stéphane Audran
    Stéphane Audran
    Stéphane Audran is a French film and television actress, known for her performances in Oscar winning movies such as Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie and Babette's Feast and in critically acclaimed films like The Big Red One and Violette Nozière .She married...

     as Cara


Awards and nominations


The serial was nominated for thirteen British Academy Television Awards
British Academy Television Awards
The British Academy Television Awards are presented in an annual award show hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts . They have been awarded annually since 1954, and are analogous to the Emmy Awards in the United States.-Background:...

 (BAFTA Awards), eleven Primetime Emmy Award
Primetime Emmy Award
The Primetime Emmy Awards are awards presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in American primetime television programming...

, and three Golden Globe Awards, and won the Broadcasting Press Guild
Broadcasting Press Guild
The Broadcasting Press Guild is a British association of journalists who specialise in writing and broadcasting about television, radio and the media generally....

 Award for Best Drama Serial. In 2007, the serial was listed as one of Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time."

BAFTA Award wins
  • Best Drama Series/Serial
  • Best Actor – Anthony Andrews
  • Best Costume Design – Jane Robinson
  • Best Scenic Design – Peter Phillips

  • Best Film Editor – Anthony Ham
  • Best Film Sound – Phil Smith and John Whitworth
  • Best Make Up – Deborah Tinsey and Ruth Quinn


BAFTA Award nominations
  • Best Actor – Jeremy Irons; John Gielgud
  • Best Actress – Claire Bloom; Diana Quick

  • Best Film CameramanR – Ray Goode
  • Best Original Television Music – Geoffrey Burgon

Emmy Award win
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – Laurence Olivier

Emmy Award nominations
  • Outstanding Limited Series
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – Anthony Andrews; Jeremy Irons
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – John Gielgud
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special – Claire Bloom
  • Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special – Charles Sturridge and Michael Lindsay-Hogg

  • Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special – John Mortimer
  • Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special – Peter Phillips
  • Outstanding Costume Design for a Regular or Limited Series – Jane Robinson
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Graphic Design and Title Sequences – Valerie Pye

Golden Globe Award wins
  • Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV - Anthony Andrews


Golden Globe Award nomination
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV - Jeremy Irons

See also




External links