Friday, April 08, 2011

BBC's South Riding on PBS

Author Winifred Holtby

PBS' To Air Winifred
Holtby's "South Riding"

The lives and loves of a 1930s Yorkshire town explored in a passionate tale of politics in small places, written by Andrew Davies, starring David Morrissey and Anna Maxwell Martin.

A lively heroine arrives in Depression-era Yorkshire to shake up education at a school for girls, sparking conflict with a stern landowner. Anna Maxwell Martin (MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Bleak House”) stars in this three-part miniseries based on the beloved 1936 novel by Winifred Holtby, adapted by celebrated screenwriter Andrew Davies (MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Little Dorrit,” “Pride and Prejudice”). Also starring are David Morrissey (MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Sense and Sensibility”) as the enigmatic gentleman farmer who crosses swords with the new headmistress before falling in love with her and Penelope Wilton (MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Downton Abbey”) as a progressive town councilwoman. Laura Linney hosts.

MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "South Riding: Episode 1" premieres Sunday, May 1, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET.

MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "South Riding: Episode 2" premieres Sunday, May 8, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET.

MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "South Riding: Episode 3" premieres Sunday, May 15, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET.


Sarah Burton is an ambitious and modern career woman, a headmistress who is determined to show her girls that the future is theirs for the taking. She has returned from London to her place of birth, the South Riding, determined to make a difference and implement change. However, beneath the self-confidence is a flawed and vulnerable heroine, whose ideals will be heavily tested when they come up against the messy reality of life.

Anna Maxwell Martin: In 2010 Anna appeared in BBC Four's On Expenses. She will also star in the BBC's upcoming adaptation of Sarah Waters' The Night Watch. At the 2008 BAFTAS, Anna won Best Actress award for her portrayal of 'N' in Poppy Shakespeare. She was also awarded the Best Actress Award at the 2005 BAFTAS for her portrayal of 'Esther Summerson' in Bleak House. Some of her many other film and television credits include Freefall, White Girl, and North and South.

Robert Carne is a brooding, troubled gentleman farmer. On the surface, he may appear snobbish, obstructive and backward-looking but he is actually just trying to protect the way of life in the countryside that he so believes in and loves. He is equally protective of his delicate young daughter, Midge, who reminds him constantly of her mother, his beloved wife now lost to him. Carne is a man trapped in the past but the world of the thirties is a rapidly changing place...

David Morrissey: David's many film and television credits include Nowhere Boy, Mrs Mandela, the Red Riding Trilogy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Dr Who, Sense and Sensibility, Cape Wrath, Blackpool, The Deal, State of Play and Our Mutual Friend. In 2010 he starred in both Sky One's Thorne and BBC One's thriller Five Days. David also has several directing credits including the BBC's Passer By and his debut feature film, Don't Worry About Me.

Midge Carne is fourteen and has never been to school. She has been privately educated by a string of governesses who have struggled to control this highly-strung girl. With money tight and Midge clearly in need of company, Robert Carne decides to send his daughter to the local school. It's a serious shock for Midge, being told what to do and forced to socialise with local grocers' daughters! But despite her initial snobbery and fear, Midge forms a deep affection for Miss Burton and increasingly finds school a much needed refuge from her troubled home life.

Katherine McGolpin: As a member of the Leeds Television Workshop, Katherine began her acting career with the part of Jade Calvert in Emmerdale when she was 10 years old, followed by a part in The Royal. She landed the role of Kay in the feature film Clubbed alongside Charlie May-Clark who she works with again in South Riding.

Joe Astell is, like Carne, a veteran of the Great War. Unlike Carne it has left him with a deep distaste for its memory and a determination that matches Sarah's to make the world a better place in its aftermath. Born in Glasgow he forged his politics in the shipyards of the Clyde and came to Yorkshire during the Depression to work with the trawlermen of the South Riding. Sarah Burton is exactly the kind of woman he has hoped to meet - passionate, political, free thinking - and Joe can't help but wonder if she might be part of his future.

Douglas Henshall: Douglas starred in BBC One's The Silence in 2010 and in ITV's Collision in 2009. He also played the role of Professor Nick Cotton in three series of the ITV series Primeval. Other TV credits include Sea of Souls, Psychos, Gentlemen's Relish with Billy Connolly, Anna Karenina, Dennis Potter's Lipstick On Your Collar and Kid In the Corner for which he won the Best Actor Award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. His film credits include How I Was Stolen By the Germans (due for release in 2011), Dorian Gray, It's All About Love, This Year's Love, Orphans and Angels & Insects.

Mrs Beddows is a strong woman ahead of her times: she is the district's first alderwoman and a formidable and vocal presence on the County Council. Beneath that surface, however, she is as hopelessly romantic as a young girl, privately battling against the disappointments of life.

Penelope Wilton: Penelope has enjoyed a long and successful career both on stage and for film and television. In 2004 she received an OBE for services to drama. She starred in the popular eighties BBC One series Ever Decreasing Circles. Her many film and television credits include Downtown Abbey, Margot, Dr Who, The Passion, Five Days, Shaun of the Dead and Calendar Girls. She finished filming on The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2010.

Alfred Huggins is a man tormented both by earthly desires and by the desire to do good. He is a man of the cloth, whose heart genuinely bleeds for the poor of the South Riding, whose eye will always be caught by a pretty girl, and whose soul will be in torment after. In agonies of lust for young Bessy Warbuckle he exposes himself to blackmail and in a bid to get hold of enough money to pay her off, becomes embroiled in a piece of political corruption that may lead to his ruin...

John Henshaw: John appeared as Meatballs in Ken Loach's 'Looking for Eric' in 2009 and will star in the upcoming BBC comedy Candy Cabs. His numerous film and television credits include Going Postal, Grow Your Own, Confessions of a Diary Secretary, Starter for Ten, Early Doors, Born and Bred and The Cops.

Anthony Snaith is the ultimate politician. Motivated by the desire to do good and to set his mark on Yorkshire, he moves his pieces like an expert tactician, sweeping poverty and ruin off the face of the Riding and bringing order where once chaos reigned. So what if he makes a bit of money into the bargain that enables him to live the life he dreamed off as a boy growing up in the Kingsport slums? Where's the harm? It's not as if it's corrupt, is it now? Snaith will always be sure to keep his hands clean...

Peter Firth: Peter Firth was born in Bradford, close to where South Riding is set. He played the role of Alan Strang in the first stage production of Peter Shaffer's Equus, performed in both the UK and on Broadway. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his stage performance and for his role in the film he received a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar. He is widely recognised for his role of Harry in Spooks. His numerous television and film credits include The Battle for Rome, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Hawking and Pearl Harbour.

Lydia Holly is a teenage girl with huge academic potential but very limiting social circumstances. She lives in a railway carriage in a shanty town known locally as The Shacks with her parents and five siblings. Until now, Lydia's had to stay at home and help her mother raise the children but at last she can take up her scholarship at Kiplington High School. Sarah Burton recognises a gift in Lydia. She knows that education could entirely transform this girl's life but will Lydia ever be able to escape the cycle of poverty that has trapped her family for generations?

Charlie May-Clark: Charlie starred in British film Clubbed when she was just thirteen with South Riding co-star Katherine McGolpin. Charlie is currently studying A Level dance and for a B-Tech Performing Arts Diploma. Born and bred in Yorkshire, Charlie has a passion for acting and dancing which has shone through from a very early age.

Mr Holly is a labourer with a love for simple pleasures; a warm curd tart or a warm cuddle from his wife will send him to bed with a smile. Even if he has to share that bed with his wife and most of his six children! He lives in a railway carriage in the local shanty town, The Shacks, but he's happy and reckons they've got the best sea views in the whole of South Riding. Mr Holly's own education was curtailed as a boy because he had to work to support his family. Now he dreams his daughter Lydia will fulfil her potential in a way he never could, but when tragedy strikes, everything they both hoped for is threatened.

Shaun Dooley: Shaun will star in the upcoming BBC One drama Exile. In 2010 he appeared in BBC Four's The Road to Coronation Street. Other credits include The Woman in Black, The Awakening, Hustle, the Red Riding Trilogy, Five Days, Married. Single. Other, Mark of Cain, Silent Witness, Apparitions and The Street.

South Riding, Winifred Holtby's masterpiece, was born of two powerful factors in her life: her deep roots in the Yorkshire countryside and her fascination with the comedies and tragedies of local government."