Set against the backdrop of Victorian England’s industrial north, it follows the fortunes of Margaret Hale, one of 19th century literature’s most original heroines. Margaret is a privileged, middle class southerner who is forced to settle in the northern town of Milton, where she takes instant offence to the town and its people. She becomes terribly lonely and hates the dirt, noise and lack of civilisation, blaming their new way of life for her mother’s ailing health.
Her distaste for the town and its people extends to handsome and charismatic cotton mill owner John Thornton, whom she believes epitomises everything she dislikes about the North. However, Margaret gradually begins to settle in Milton. Her social conscience awakens and she befriends some of the local mill workers, learning about their poverty and workplace struggles.
As events conspire to throw Margaret and Thornton together, the two spirited characters have to overcome their repressed physical attraction for one another and conquer prejudices of class and circumstance.
- North & South was surprisingly well received by audiences. The BBC, who had low expectations for the series, didn’t publicize it to a wider audience. They were surprised when only hours after the airing of the first episode the message board on BBC crashed and had to be shut down due to the large number of visitors. Subsequently, the DVD was released on 11 April 2005 due to huge success.
- The film is based on a novel written in 1855 by Elizabeth Gaskell. Also called “North and South,” it is still reprinted regularly.
- Julian Fellowes, the Downton Abbey writer, has stated he wrote the part of Mr. Bates for Brendan based on his performance in this film.
Episode 1 (14 November 2004)
Episode 2 (21 November 2004)
Episode 3 (28 November 2004)
Episode 4 (5 December 2004)
Elizabeth Gaskell, Sandy Welch
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinead Cusack, Lesley Manville, Tim Pigott-Smith, Pauline Quirke
Available for rent or purchase