Written by Tom Stoppard
Composer(s) Dirk Brossé
Final episode date 21 September 2012
Directed by Susanna White
Country of origin United Kingdom
Genre Historical period drama
|Based on Novel by Ford Madox Ford|
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch Rebecca Hall Adelaide Clemens
Networks BBC, HBO, Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie
Cast Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Adelaide Clemens, Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson
Parade's End is a five-part BBC/HBO/VRT television serial, which is an adaptation of the tetralogy of novels (1924-28) of the same name by Ford Madox Ford. It premiered on BBC Two on 24 August 2012 and on HBO on 26 February 2013. The series was also screened at the 39th Ghent Film Festival on 11 October 2012. Its five episodes were directed by Susanna White and written by Tom Stoppard. The cast was led by Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall as Christopher and Sylvia Tietjens, along with Adelaide Clemens, Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Anne-Marie Duff, Roger Allam, Janet McTeer, Freddie Fox, Jack Huston, and Steven Robertson.
The series received widespread critical acclaim and is often cited as "the highbrow Downton Abbey". In its BBC Two premiere, it attracted 3.5 million viewers, making it BBC Two's most watched drama since Rome aired in 2005. The miniseries received six BAFTA TV nominations including Best Actress for Rebecca Hall and five Primetime Emmy Award nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay for Tom Stoppard and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. It won Best Costume Design at the BAFTAs.
Plot summaryFor episode-by-episode synopses, see below.
In the years before the First World War, three Britons are drawn into fraught and ultimately tragic relations: Anglican Christopher Tietjens, second son of the lord of the manor of Groby, Yorkshire, who is a disconsolate, Tory statistician in London; Catholic Sylvia Satterthwaite, his promiscuous and self-centered socialite wife who has married him only to hide the fact that their son is not really his; and freethinking Valentine Wannop, a young suffragette and daughter of a lady novelist, who is torn between her idealism and her attraction to "Chrissy". As the war works a profound change on Europe, and Chrissy is badly wounded in France, the conflict shatters and rearranges the lives of all three principals, as well as virtually everyone else in their elite circle.
The series was conceived when Damien Timmer approached playwright Tom Stoppard to write the adaptation; after reading the novels, Stoppard agreed to pen the screenplay, this marking his return to television after a 30-year absence. Stoppard has stated that he had considered Benedict Cumberbatch for the role of Christopher Tietjens even before Sherlock made him a global star. Adelaide Clemens was cast as Valentine after arriving for her audition in period clothing. Initially producers were reluctant to cast an Australian actress, but were won over on finding that Clemens' father is a British national. A significant part of the film was shot on location in Kent at Dorton House and St. Thomas a Becket Church. Additional scenes were filmed at Freemasons' Hall in London and Duncombe Park. The rest of the series was filmed in Belgium, including Poeke Castle in the town of Aalter, utilising television drama tax breaks, with scenes at the Western Front recreated in Flanders.
Stoppard made changes from the original, such as excluding most of the fourth novel, streamlining the plot to focus on the love triangle, and adding overt sex scenes. The exclusion of the fourth novel is not without precedent; it was also done in Graham Greene's 1963 edition of Parade's End and Ford himself sometimes referred to it as a trilogy. "He may have written the fourth to fulfill a contract or because he needed more money," said Michael Schmidt, the executor of Ford's literary estate.
Six episode version
In some markets, such as France, the series was broadcast and released on DVD in six episodes instead of five. There is however no difference in content between the two versions. Indeed, the episodes in the six-part version have an episode length of approximately 46 minutes each, instead of the 57 to 59 minutes of the five-part version.
The series has received widespread acclaim from British critics with The Independent's Grace Dent going so far as to proclaim it "one of the finest things the BBC has ever made". Others praised Cumberbatch and Hall in the lead roles, Cumberbatch for his ability to express suppressed pain with The Independent's Gerard Gilbert saying "Perhaps no other actor of his generation is quite so capable of suggesting the tumult beneath a crusty, seemingly inert surface" and The Arts Desk's Emma Dibdin finding "Cumberbatch's performance... faultless and often achingly moving, a painful juxtaposition of emotional stiffness and deep, crippling vulnerability". Hall's Sylvia was lauded as "one of the great female characters of the past decade" by Caitlin Moran, who also wrote that "the script and direction have genius-level IQ" in her Times TV column.
Parade's End attracted 3.5 million viewers for its first episode, making it BBC2's most watched drama since Rome aired in 2005. The second episode had a drop in ratings with 2.2 million viewers. A few viewers found the sound mixing problematic, with dialogue difficult to hear and understand.
The miniseries received generally favourable reviews from American and Canadian television critics for its HBO broadcast, according to Metacritic. Writing for Roger Ebert's Chicago Sun-Times column, Jeff Shannon wrote that the miniseries has "up-scale directing" and "award-worthy performances" while Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press called it "a television masterpiece".
Ford's tetralogy of novels became a best-seller after the dramatisation was broadcast on BBC.
Awards and nominations
Parade's End has been nominated for numerous awards since its original broadcast. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall won the Broadcasting Press Guild awards for Best Actor and Actress respectively, while Tom Stoppard picked up the Writer's Award and the series itself won Best Drama Series.
The miniseries received six BAFTA TV nominations including Best Actress for Rebecca Hall and five Primetime Emmy Award nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay for Tom Stoppard and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. It won Best Costume Design at the BAFTAs.
BBC Books produced a tie-in edition of Parade's End with Cumberbatch, Hall and Clemens on the cover. It was made available in the UK on 16 August 2012.
A Parade's End companion book by Tom Stoppard from Faber & Faber was also made available. It contains the script and includes production stills and deleted scenes not included in the broadcast.
The soundtrack by Dirk Brossé was released in digital and physical copies on 2 October 2012.
DVD and Blu-ray copies of the series were released by the BBC on 8 October 2012. They include behind the scenes footage and selected interviews with crew and cast members.