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Masterpiece Classic; Small Island

Small Island, Part 1 HD BASE WGBH MASTER

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Masterpiece Classic
Small Island
Program Number


Series Description

Each winter and spring, Masterpiece classic features signature period dramas. For 2009, Masterpiece classic premieres January 4th with host Laura Linney.

Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Linney will be the new host of Masterpiece classic, making her first appearance when the series premieres with a new adaptation of Tess of the D'Urbervilles on January 4, 2009 on PBS.

In 2009, the series returns with works by three beloved British authors, including Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles (January 4 and 11), starring new Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace); Emily Brontë's haunting Wuthering Heights (January 18 and 25) with Tom Hardy (The Virgin Queen) as Heathcliff and newcomer Charlotte Riley as Cathy. In February, Masterpiece classic launches The Tales of Charles Dickens with a bold new adaptation of Oliver Twist, starring Timothy Spall (A Room with A View), and Sophie Okonedo (The Secret Life of Bees) in a heartbreaking performance as Nancy. In March, there will be a repeat of the acclaimed David Copperfield starring Daniel Radcliffe in the role that led him to Harry Potter. Beginning on March 29 is the highly anticipated five-part miniseries Little Dorrit from Bleak House screenwriter Andrew Davies, starring Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley, The Way We Live Now), rising star Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit, and Tom Courtenay (Billy Liar, A Rather English Marriage) as her father. On May 3, The Incomplete Charles Dickens closes with a star-studded The Old Curiosity Shop, with Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones (W., Infamous), Zoë Wanamaker (Harry Potter, Gormenghast), and Gina McKee (The Forsyte Saga). Series release date: 1/4/2009

Program Description

This mini-series, adapted from the award-winning 2004 novel, stars Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, White Teeth) as Hortense, a young ambitious Jamaican woman thrust into the grit of 1940s post-war London.

4010, Episode 1: Hortense Joseph arrives in London at Queenie Bligh's house to live with her new husband Gilbert Joseph; a man she only married to fulfill her dream of leaving Jamaica to live in England. Dismayed by Gilbert's dingy attic room, she pauses to remember Michael, her first love in Jamaica, and his betrayal that led them to be banished from their childhood home on the eve of war. Queenie, meanwhile, reflects on her own unsatisfactory marriage to dull Bernard and a passionate meeting with a Jamaican Royal Air Force airman during the Blitz. Gilbert remembers his desperation to leave Jamaica and fight for the mother country, and then his meeting Queenie in Yorkshire, and the tragic shooting that separated them. Now in 1948, their lives converge in London and their long-held secrets threaten to derail their already fragile marriages.

4011, Episode 2: The emotional and moving climax to the stories of Hortense, Queenie and Gilbert whose lives entwine in post Second World War London. Hortense begins her new life in England and soon learns it is not the golden land she hoped it would be. She and Gilbert suffer racism and ignorance, but in adversity they discover new qualities in each other and begin to fall in love. Queenie is shocked when her husband Bernard returns to her after years away. When she goes into labour and has a baby by a mysterious father, the lives of all four are changed forever.

A Ruby Television Production in Association with AL Films. Co-produced with WGBH Boston.

Made on location in Northern Ireland with the assistance of Northern Ireland Screen

Ruby Television for BBC

© Television Ruby (Small Island) Limited 2009



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Eaton, Rebecca (Series Producer)
Chicago: “Masterpiece Classic; Small Island,” WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 21, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4E6FCAFC36904B18933D01E059693EF7.
MLA: “Masterpiece Classic; Small Island.” WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 21, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4E6FCAFC36904B18933D01E059693EF7>.
APA: Masterpiece Classic; Small Island. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4E6FCAFC36904B18933D01E059693EF7
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