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Masterpiece Theatre; To The Ends Of The Earth: Rites Of Passage


WGBH Packaged show, part one

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Masterpiece Theatre
To The Ends Of The Earth: Rites Of Passage
Program Number


Series Description

Program premiered in 1971 with The First Churchills. Hosted by Alastair Cooke. Intended as a showcase for the best of British television drama. Spawned MYSTERY! in 1980. Current executive producer Rebecca Eaton. All promotion of program done by Frank Goodman & Associates (see below). Synopsis, cast information and producers listed by individual title. Series release date: 1971

Program Description

Episode One: Rites of Passage Edmond Talbot is on his way to Australia to take up a government post secured for him by his rich and influential godfather. Talbot is young, witty and naive, and all set for adventure and bravery in the face of whatever a long sea voyage might throw at him. He is also immature, vain, haughtily cocksure in his perception of the world, and ripe for certain lessons, both emotional and intellectual.

The vessel is an outdated and decrepit 18th century wooden warship which 'renders like an old boot.' There is nothing in the least bit romantic about it. It is crammed with a disparate assortment of officers, seamen and passengers (made up of gentlemen like Talbot and few ladies) and a 'cargo' of poor emigrants.

Presiding over this little society is the irascible Captain Anderson, who is positively hostile to Talbot until he learns of the young man's powerful patron, which makes him grudgingly respectful. Notable among the crew are Lieutenant Summers, a consummately professional sailor who has come up through the ranks, and the dashing Lieutenant Deverel, whom Talbot admires for his cynicism and masculine flair. Among the passengers are a Republican called Prettiman, a severe governess called Miss Granham and a drunken and verbose painter called Brocklebank, who appears to be enjoying a m┼Żnage a trois with two women he claims are his wife and daughter. There is also the timorous and fawning young parson, Colley.

The voyage is rough and shattering, relentless and wearisome. Out of monotony and claustrophobia there soon grows a need for distraction and mischief, which results in the wretched death of the parson. Appalled at his own entanglement in Colley's victimization, Talbot is forced to participate in a whitewash of the case when there is an inquiry. Chastened by this black event and made altogether wiser by the realization that he doesn't yet understand the world he inhabits, Edmund continues on his journey.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Masterpiece Theatre; To The Ends Of The Earth: Rites Of Passage,” 10/22/2006, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 27, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2CC518F072924BA9A3C7C84AE0DFAECF.
MLA: “Masterpiece Theatre; To The Ends Of The Earth: Rites Of Passage.” 10/22/2006. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 27, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2CC518F072924BA9A3C7C84AE0DFAECF>.
APA: Masterpiece Theatre; To The Ends Of The Earth: Rites Of Passage. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2CC518F072924BA9A3C7C84AE0DFAECF
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