Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Masterpiece Classic 2011 Schedule

Can you believe it? The start to the brand-new season of Masterpiece Classic is just around the corner! This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Masterpiece being on the air, and if this schedule is any indication we're in for a stellar 2011.

My Boy Jack (Encore Presentation) - January 2, 2011
In 1914 England, patriotism is high in the early days of WWI, and writer Rudyard Kipling (David Haig, Four Weddings and a Funeral) is one of its most eloquent and passionate voices. John "Jack," (Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter films), Kipling's only son, is underage, hopelessly myopic, and eager to join the war effort. Kipling's outspoken American wife Carrie (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City) remains more sanguine on the course of the war, and the fate of her family. My Boy Jack, based on a true story, tells of a nation at war, and offers an intimate portrait of one family's complex and divided experience in it.
Downton Abbey - January 9, 16, 23, & 30, 2011
A stately country house, a noble family, and a succession crisis are the backdrop for Downton Abbey, an Edwardian spellbinder by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park). The series that took the UK by storm, Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, and a house full of revered actors in a production that brings a glittering bygone era to life.
The Unseen Alistair Cooke (Encore Presentation) - February 6, 2011

Alistair Cooke filmed his early travels across the United States with an 8mm camera. The footage, discovered only after his death, offers a record of the unseen life behind Cooke's polished words, against a backdrop of an America sparkling with possibilities. The Unseen Alistair Cooke: A Masterpiece Special chronicles Cooke's decades in America, friendships with Hollywood icons, celebrated journalism career and years as host of Masterpiece Theatre. Marking the November 2008 centennial of his birth, The Unseen Alistair Cooke: A Masterpiece Special turns an admiring eye on the master observer.
 Any Human Heart - February 13, 20, & 27, 2011
William Boyd adapts his acclaimed 2002 novel about a man — at various times a writer, lover, prisoner of war, and spy — making his often precarious way through the 20th century. Matthew MacFadyen, Gillian Anderson, Hayley Atwell, Kim Cattrall and Jim Broadbent star.
The 39 Steps (Encore Presentation) - March 27, 2011
Newly returned to England on the eve of World War I, Richard Hannay's (Rupert Penry-Jones, Persuasion) listless London life is about to spiral out of control. When a neighbor bursts in with a top-secret notebook full of cryptic codes and a frantic story of an impending assassination, unlikely patriot Hannay is soon on the run to save himself and his country. He bumps into feisty suffragette Victoria Sinclair (Lydia Leonard), and while their fates may be intertwined, their personalities aren't. But like it or not, they'll together navigate murder, betrayal and near death in order to untangle a plot of national importance, and understand the charms and challenges of human nature. A bracing and romantic thriller, The 39 Steps is based on the novel by John Buchan.
Upstairs Downstairs - April 10, 17, & 24, 2011
Upstairs Downstairs is an updated version of one of the most-loved and most-honored series in television history. The series has a new cast of characters and Jean Marsh reprising her Emmy-winning role as Rose. The cast also includes the original series co-creator Eileen Atkins (Cranford), Keeley Hawes (MI-5), Ed Stoppard, and Art Malik (The Jewel in the Crown) with a script by Emmy-nominee Heidi Thomas (Cranford).
South Riding* - May 1, 8, & 15, 2011
Based on Winifred Holtby’s 1936 novel, South Riding has been adapted to the screen by the venerable Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995, Northanger Abbey 2007, and Sense and Sensibility 2008). Directed by Diarmuid Lawrence (Emma 1996), this 20th-century classic is a rich portrait of a Yorkshire community in the 1930’s. In the devastating wake of WWI, unmarried Sarah Burton (Anna Maxwell Martin, Cassandra Austen in Becoming Jane 2007) leaves London and returns home to take up a position as headmistress at a struggling Yorkshire girls school. Robert Carne (David Morrissey, Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility 2008) is also struggling as a gentlemen farmer who is destined to clash with Miss Burton. Among the others in the community are Councilor Mrs. Beddows (Penelope Wilton), school girls Lydia Holly (Charlie Clark) and Midge Carne (Katherine McGolpin), school mistress Miss Sigglesthwaite (Brid Brennan), and Councilor Huggins (John Henshaw). “South Riding is a rich, compassionate and humane story of politics in small places and, in the end, the indestructibility of the human spirit.”
Doesn't this sound like an absolutely AMAZING season?! Which program(s) intrigue you the most? Feel free to sound off in the comments section!

*Thanks to Laurel Ann at Austenprose for the information about South Riding's broadcast.


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

I am sooo excited for Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey! I really love films set during that time period. Thank you for sharing!

XOXO~ Renee

Unknown said...

@Renee - You're welcome! I can't WAIT for Downton Abbey to start. I'm really quite excited about this new trend in costume dramas set during the early 20th century.

Charity said...

I've seen both "Downton Abbey" and "Upstairs Downstairs" (well, the latter not yet the final installment) but am very eager to see them premiere in America and discern a response among my friends! Thus far I'm more partial to "Downton" but both are quite enjoyable.

I was unfamiliar with many of the other films mentioned, but am particularly interested in "South Riding." It sounds fabulous!

Unknown said...

@Charity - Oh, I must confess to being quite jealous! ;) Right now, based on the glowing reviews I've read throughout the blogosphere, I'm most looking forward to Downton (though that could have something to do with the proximity of the show's debut in the US!).

South Riding does sound fantastic. Not only does it have an Andrew Davies-penned script going for it, but I'm very excited to see Anna Maxwell Martin in a major Masterpiece production again. I loved her in Bleak House (and North & South, of course! *g*).

Charity said...

You will love "Downton" -- everyone does! It's just... well, it's marvelous. I've already seen it three times, and have the DVD pre-ordered, but I will also be watching it live on PBS. =D

"Upstairs Downstairs" turned out all right, but it doesn't have the spark of "Downton," unfortunately.

Anna was marvelous in "Bleak House" -- one of my favorite miniseries ever. I'm eager to see her again. =)

Unknown said...

@Charity - Oh, I look forward to some Downton-related discussion! :) I am so excited about the show I'm almost to the point of wishing away the next week and a half.

Bleak House is amazing...I should rewatch that sometime soon.