Period three part BBC drama South Riding follows school teacher Sarah Burton (Anna Maxwell Martin) 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 (David Morrissey), the handsome, haunted gentleman farmer she clashes with.
In best Andrew Davies style (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.
Cast: 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
Writer: Andrew Davies / Novel: Winifred Holtby / Producer: Lisa Osborne / Director: Diarmuid Lawrence
UK / BBC One / 3×60 minute episodes / Broadcast Sunday 20 February – 2 March 2011