Charles Dickens’ sprawling story of abject poverty and lavish wealth is brought to the screen in this stellar adaption. The lives of two young women, in vastly different circumstances, are entwined by the death of young John (Steven Mackintosh) who was coming home from years abroad to claim his fortune and the hand of his (pre-arranged) bride. Lizzie (Keeley Hawes) has been brought up along the river by her adopted father and has somehow managed to not let the squalor and corruption corrupt her. Bella (Anna Friel) is the middle-class young woman who was to marry John. When Lizzies’ father finds a body floating in the river, it’s sets off a chain of events that will plum the depths of greed, lust and love.
During the French Revolution the Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Andrews) is ingeniously saving families from the guillotine, while back home in England he plays the part of the rich fool Sir Percy. While in France he meets the beautiful actress Marguerite (Jane Seymour). The two fall in love and marry, but the rumors started by the jealous Chauvelin (Ian McKellen) threaten to tear them apart. All the while the Pimpernels most dangerous and daring rescues are about to commence.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s story follows Molly Gibson (Justine Waddell) as she must navigate through her widowed fathers remarriage, the exploits of her reckless stepsister (Keeley Hawes) and her own romantic feelings for her friend (Anthony Howell).
At once a social commentary of the time; full of secrets and gossip. It is also a timeless story of love, the relationships in families and (of course) wives and daughters.
Beau Bridges stars as Lt. Harry Faversham, the son of a career army officer, who has been bullied by his father to join the army. He is planning to resign and marry the beautiful but somewhat childish Ethne Eustace (Jane Seymour), but on the eve of his resignation he receives orders to move to the front in Sudan with his three close friends (also officers). In a rash act he burns their orders and resigns the next day. He is found out and branded a coward by his friends and the woman he loves, who each give him a white feather. Determined to in some way make them take them back, he travels to the front alone and realizes that his three comrades are all in peril. He decides to save them on his own, in a dazzling display of his military prowess and unflinching courage.