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.