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The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series
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Granada TV's dramatisation of Paul Scott's novels about the last days of the British Raj in India. In 'Crossing the River' Daphne Mannings arrives in India for the first time and meets Hari Kumar. 'The Bibighar Gardens' sees the controversy around Daphne and Hari's relationship escalate to a surprising degree. 'Questions of Loyalty' has Hari remaining in prison while Daphne gives birth. 'Incidents at a Wedding' finds Meyrick serving as best man at Teddy and Susan's wedding. 'Regimental Silver' sees Susan prepare to celebrate her 21st birthday. 'Ordeal by Fire' has Meyrick reveal the details of Teddy's death. 'Daughters of the Regiment' finds Sarah the centre of attention when she visits Aunt Fenny. In 'The Day of the Scorpion' Sarah meets the Count while travelling home. 'The Towers of Silence' sees Barbie fall ill after a visit to the home of Captain Cowley. 'An Evening at the Maharanee's' has Meyrick interrogate some suspected traitors. 'Travelling Companion' finds Sarah promoted to the rank of Sergeant. 'The Moghul Room' sees Peron investigate the secrets in Meyrick's past. 'Pandora's Box' has Susie struggle to regain her balance after Meyrick's accident. And finally, in 'The Division of the Spoils', the story of Meyrick's demise is recounted in full.
Jewel In The Crown is a critically-acclaimed drama adaptation based on the Raj Quartet novels by Paul Scott. Set in the fictional city of Mayapore between 1942 and 1947--the years leading up to Indian independence--,it examines the complex relationship which existed between the British Empire and its "subjects", and depicts the lives and loves of people caught in the turbulence of India struggling to break the chains of oppression. The series specifically centres on the experiences of a public school-educated Indian named Hari Kumar (Art Malik), who is falsely accused of raping a British school girl. Whilst incarcerated, Hari is bullied and tortured by a sadistic British officer (played by Tim Pigott-Smith), who is aware of his innocence.
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The cast is outstanding with Peggy Ashcroft taking the acting honours but some standout performances from Geraldine James, Tim Piggot Smith and Charles Dance.
For TV buffs it is 13hrs (or so) of pleasure and a very balanced look at the end of the Raj, much more so than The Viceroy's House.
The most revealing thing about this series is the light it throws on the British class system (I almost wrote "caste"...) I imagine we're all aware that the colonial system was run by the same classes who controlled everything at home, even if they often consigned their dimmer offspring to service in the colonies. There isn't a single likeable and well-adjusted working-class or even middle-class character in the story. Indeed the entire plot revolves around the loathsome grammar school boy Ronald Merrick's attempts to ascend the social ladder.
Whilst the story does a fine job of outlining the conflicts within the Indian independence movement it also reveals the vile social attitudes prevailing within the British ruling classes. Of course these days they've learned to disguise these attitudes much more effectively. However the instant recognition registered between characters the moment "Chillingborough" is mentioned gives cause for reflection on the current make-up of the British Cabinet. Plus ça change, as we say in Europe...
Not having read every review here let me add, in case no one else has, an honorable mention of Judy Parfitt for her brilliant reading of the foul, alcoholic, Mildred Layton. This performance stands with Tim Piggot-Smith's as JITC's principal villains.
The production is remarkable in it's inclusion among the cast of a plethora of actors all of whom have since become household names in film and TV. If you have never seen it, don't miss it.