1 9 6 4 (UK)
4 x 45 minute episodes
This four-week serial from the BBC starred Meg Wynn Owen in the title role. First shown on BBC2 in 1964, the episodes were repeated on BBC1 in Summer 1965.
Esther Waters was driven from her family home by a drunken father (John Dearth) and entered into service as a kitchen maid at the Barfield racing stables.
She was dismissed from her position when she fell pregnant with the illegitimate child of footman William Latch (John Bennett) and her life saw many other changes when he then abandoned her.
She eventually promised to marry Salvation Army trumpeter Fred Parsons (Gordon Gostelow) but William turned up again, anxious to make amends for deserting her.
By the final episode, Esther – courageous, stubborn and heroic – and William were happily running the King’s Head pub.
Other key characters in Esther’s story were her friend Margaret Gale (Gwendolyn Watts) – who was ultimately forced into prostitution; Mr Ward (Blake Butler), the head lad at the stables; and Randall, the butler (Carl Bernard).
Recorded in the BBC’s Glasgow studio, the series was adapted from a novel by George Moore. The story of the kitchen maid who was dismissed from a late-Victorian horse racing household because she became pregnant by the footman shocked people when it appeared in the 1890s.
Meg Wynn Owen
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