Thursday, January 13, 2011

South Riding ~ Masterpiece Theatre


South Riding

Network: PBS

Original Air Date: May 1, 8 & 15, 2011


Anna Maxwell Martin
David Morrissey
Charlie May-Clark
Shauan Dooley
Brid Brennan
Katherine McGolpin
John Henshaw
Penelope Wilton
Douglas Henshall


DVD Description:

A headmistress of a school in Yorkshire finds her running of the school compromised by social injustice.

Insightful, warm and full of memorable characters, South Riding tells a fraught love story and paints a panoramic portrait of a between-the-wars Yorkshire community.

In depression-hit Thirties Britain, Sarah Burton returns from London to her Yorkshire hometown to take up the post of headmistress at a struggling girls’ school. Full of ambition, she is determined to create a great school and inspire her girls.

As Sarah struggles against the crippling poverty of the district, she meets those at the heart of the local community: her brilliant but poor student, Lydia Holly; the county's first woman Alderman, Mrs Beddows, whose sensible demeanour belies a girlish heart; the noble but ludicrous Methodist preacher, Councillor Huggins; Sarah’s socialist suitor Joe Astell and the proud, haunted and almost ruined landowner, Robert Carne – a man Sarah finds herself drawn towards even though he stands for everything she detests…

Engrossing and entertaining, South Riding vividly brings to life a rural community on the brink of change.

Movie Review:


See or Skip:




  1. Hope this will be good, it sure sounds interesting --surprisingly, your site was the first I'd heard of it. It's "Esther" (Anna Maxwell-Martin) from "Bleak House," and it'd be grand to see her in another starring role.=) Thanks for introducing me to this MP title; maybe it'll be on DVD this spring.

  2. What is the name of the china dinnerware pattern used at Midge's house?

  3. Could someone please note for me the name of the poem that Sarah recites to Lydia? Much oblidged, Karen

  4. Yes, it was excellent.
    Biggest fault was in the compression into 3 episodes. The third and ultimate one left me in the dark about why Midge's mother goes back to the Carne estate instead of to "the castle" the grandfather takes Midge to, and how does Lydia go from school girl to a teaching job in the blink of an eye.
    Perhaps this was PBS editing down of the BBC series, but it was most annoying.
    Also, why did they have to show the horse dying on the beach. Terrible choice, especially if there are sensitive "young'uns" in the house.
    The costumes and set decoration were great, what you could see of them. Please, more light.

  5. Watched the finish last night--does anyone know how the filmed the horse scene. Unfortunately, that is how I will remember this otherwise outstanding series. I wish they would put something at the end explaining no harm was done to animals.

  6. Marcia--this is the way I understood it...the ending was an epilogue to let us know what happened after Sarah decided to stay in South Riding, and the effect she had on the lives of others. The Carne estate was turned into a sanatarium/mental hospital and Midge's mother was transferred there. I thought it showed Lydia entering college as her name was being painted on her living quarters--fast-forwarding her life to show she'd made it through school and was living up to her potential. If anyone else has different interpretations, I hope you'll share.

    I also agree about the scenes with the horses' deaths (the fox hunting scene and the one on the beach)--I found them disturbing, too. I'm sure the RSPCA didn't allow any harm to come to the animals, but it was still a bit too graphic for me.


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