Home Television Drama Onedin Line, The

Onedin Line, The

1 9 7 1 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
91 x 50 minute episodes

The Onedin Line events took place in Liverpool, England, in the 19th Century. The series opens in 1860 as Captain James Onedin inherits the smallest part of his late father’s estate – just £25.00.

Onedin marries Anne Webster in order to get his hands on a ship (the Charlotte Rose), then the marriage turns out to be one of true love after all.


The series followed Onedin’s career (accompanied by his faithful Captain Baines) as he hopped from boardroom to bedroom to briny sea, along the way remarrying twice.

Years after his first wife had died giving birth to his daughter, Charlotte, James married Letty Gaunt but she died too, and by the end of the series James was married to a Spanish widow by the name of Margarita Juarez.

James was ruthless in his attempt to get a shipping line started, stay solvent, win some of the arguments with his more prosperous brother and beautiful sister, and put an occasional smile on the faces of his unlucky wives.

The series dealt with ruthless deals in precarious times and ran for nine years (taking the Onedin saga up to 1886) giving early TV appearances to Jane Seymour and Kate Nelligan.

Location filming was shot off Charlestown and Dartmouth in Devon. Working at sea unnerved some of the cast but newcomers were told not to worry – someone knew how to drive the boat – and not to be embarrassed if they were seasick.


While they couldn’t afford to stop filming each time an actor or actress felt queasy, the pep-talk went, there was always a bucket nearby.

The boat which was used in the second part of the series, the Sõren Larsen, is still in use. She now sails the tropical islands of the South Pacific and the New Zealand coast, not with cargo like in the series but with passengers.

The stirring theme tune was Aram Khachaturyan’s Spartacus.

James Onedin 
Peter Gilmore
Anne Webster/Onedin 

Anne Stallybrass

Edward Chapman
Charlotte Onedin 

Laura Hartong
Robert Onedin 

Brian Rawlinson
Sarah Onedin 

Mary Webster
Elizabeth Onedin 

Jessica Benton
Daniel Fogarty 

Michael Billington
Emma Fogarty 

Jane Seymour
Captain Baines 

Howard Lang
Captain Webster 

James Hayter
Captain Davies 

Edward Dentith
Letty Gaunt 

Jill Gascoigne
Albert Frazer 

Philip Bond

Cyril Shaps

Robert Gillespie

John Kidd

Windsor Davies
Billy Boy 

Gawn Grainger
Margarita Juarez 

Roberta Iger