1 9 8 4 (UK)
13 x 60 minute episodes
This 13-part BBC2 series was adapted by Julian Bond from a sequence of eleven novels by CP Snow, covering nearly 40 years in the life of Lewis Eliot (Shaughan Seymour) and ranging from pre-war Berlin to Cambridge, Whitehall and the Corridors of Power.
An intellectual drama full of witty, complex, intellectual and articulate characters, the series began in 1927 as a dazzling career at the bar beckoned Lewis. But his infatuation with the capricious parson’s daughter Sheila Knight (Sheila Ruskin) – his future wife – unsettled his plans.
By 1935, he had left the bar and taken a part-time post at Francis Getliffe’s (Paul Hastings) Cambridge College, where he began gaining insight into college politics.
Lewis became friendly with brilliant but volatile and controversial scholar Roy Calvert (Nigel Havers), who was being considered for a Fellowship. The Master, Vernon Royce (Frederick Treves), wanted him elected, but some senior Dons were prejudiced by Calvert’s wine-and-women lifestyle and did not share the enthusiasm.
Leonard March (Peter Sallis) asked Lewis to investigate a family scandal. Some years earlier, it was rumoured that Leonard’s brother Sir Philip March (Edgar Wreford) was involved in a stock exchange killing that Herbert Getliffe (Neil Stacy) was alleged to have made by using privileged information.
An underground newspaper called The Note had resurrected the scandal as part of a campaign against the government.
Charles March’s (Martin Jacobs) communist wife Ann (Carmen Du Sautoy) was connected with the paper and, when confronted by Lewis, admitted supplying them with the information.
Meanwhile, with Vernon Royce now terminally ill, two candidates presented themselves as his potential successor – the humane but academically undistinguished senior tutor Paul Jago (John Carson) and Thomas Crawford (Clifford Rose), a scientist of international repute. The college was divided once again, and the backstage lobbying began in earnest.
By 1939, Lewis had left behind the college cloisters (where distinguished academics behaved like school children) and been drafted into a post as a Civil Servant, travelling to Berlin where his chum Roy Calvert was on good terms with the Nazis.
In 1941, Lewis was tasked with recruiting scientists for a new atomic research establishment in Warwickshire – and began an affair with an office colleague’s vivacious friend called Margaret Davidson (Cherie Lunghi), whom he eventually married.
After the war, Lewis became involved with ambitious and idealistic Tory MP Roger Quaife (Anthony Hopkins) in a bid to pull Britain out of the arms race and push for nuclear disarmament.
Unfortunately, their efforts were interrupted by the Suez Crisis.
When it was revealed that Quaife had a mistress, the scandal and backlash placed both their careers at risk.
By the final episode – set in 1964 – Lewis had given up his career in Whitehall and become a successful writer. But the offer of a ministerial post in a new Labour government tempted him back into politics.
Sir Hector Rose
Lady Muriel Royce
Carmen Du Sautoy
Lady Caroline Quaife
Sir Philip March