Period drama series South Riding follows school teacher Sarah Burton who, in the 1930’s returns home to Yorkshire after years spent teaching in London and other points of the Empire.
Sarah is to take up the headmistress-ship of a struggling Yorkshire high school for girls but her homecoming is more complicated than she thinks and before long her ambitions are in conflict with her feelings for the man least likely to have won her heart of Robert Carne, the handsome, haunted gentleman farmer she clashes with.
In best Andrew Davies (surely there is no other male scriptwriter who writes for women as well as he) Sarah is very much a modern woman and modern female viewers will find much to empathise with.
South Riding (which was previously filmed for TV in 1974 with Dorothy Tutin in the lead role) is a rich, compassionate and humane story of politics in small places and, in the end, the indestructibility of the human spirit.
UK / BBC-1 / 3×60 minute episodes / Broadcast Sunday 20 February – 2 March 2011
Writer: Andrew Davies / Novel: Winifred Holtby / Producer: Lisa Osborne / Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
ANNA MAXWELL-MARTIN as Sarah Burton
DAVID MORRISSEY as Robert Carne
PENELOPE WILTON as Mrs Beddows
PETER FIRTH as Anthony Snaith
DOUGLAS HENSHALL as Joe Astell
JOHN HENSHAW as Alfred Huggins
KATHERINE McGOLPIN as Midge Carne
LYDIA WILSON as Muriel Carne
DANIEL WEST as Young Robert Carne
PENNY LAYDEN as Mrs Huggins
WENDY PATTERSON as Mrs Oldroyd
JANINE MELLOR as Bessy Warbuckle
CHARLIE MAY-CLARK as Lydia Holly
JENNIFER HENNESSY as Mrs Holly
SHAUN DOOLEY as Mr Holly
IAN BARTHOLOMEW as Gaius Drew
MARTHA GODBER as Maud
CHARLOTTE THORNTON as Nancy
WILLIAM RODELL as Lord Port
RENNY KRUPINKSI as Hicks
BRID BRENNAN as Miss Sigglesthwaite
ROSIE MUNCER as Vera
JOHN PAUL HURLEY as Reg Hawthorne