Wives and Daughters (1999– )
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Episode #1.1 

Molly Gibson, whose mother has long ago died, is brought up by her father Dr. Gibson. At the age of 17, Molly visits and immediately befriends the Hamleys, her neighbors, especially she and... See full summary »


Nicholas Renton


Andrew Davies (adaptation), Elizabeth Gaskell (novel)


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Anna Maguire ... Young Molly
Barbara Flynn ... Miss Browning
Deborah Findlay ... Miss Phoebe
Ian Carmichael ... Lord Cumnor
Barbara Leigh-Hunt ... Lady Cumnor
Rosamund Pike ... Lady Harriet
Francesca Annis ... Mrs. Gibson
Sheridan Smith ... Housemaid
Dariel Pertwee ... Lady Cuxhaven
Lucy Briers Lucy Briers ... Lady Alice
Shaughan Seymour Shaughan Seymour ... Lord Hollingford
Bill Paterson ... Mr. Gibson
Justine Waddell ... Molly
Doreen Andrew Doreen Andrew ... Betty
Richard Coyle ... Mr. Coxe


Molly Gibson, whose mother has long ago died, is brought up by her father Dr. Gibson. At the age of 17, Molly visits and immediately befriends the Hamleys, her neighbors, especially she and the youngest son Roger Hamley, studying in Cambridge, become good friends. This is when Dr. Gibson tells his daughter of his upcoming marriage to Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, a widower who also has a daughter around Molly's age, Cynthia. Written by R

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TV-PG | See all certifications »





French | English

Release Date:

28 November 1999 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dune Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Molly Gibson: [on hearing of her father's engagement] So that's why I was sent away, was it? So all this could be arranged in my absence?
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User Reviews

'Wives and Daughters': Part 1
6 June 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Anybody who loves a good adaptation of a book, lovely period detail, compelling storytelling and great writing and acting should find no real reason to not enjoy 'Wives and Daughters'. It has every single one of those and more from the very start and never loses any of them.

As an adaptation, 'Wives and Daughters' is hardly disappointing, the adaptation does show loyalty to the book while telling it intricately and freshly. Have always however found it fairer to judge an adaptation on its own, and on its own 'Wives and Daughters' is brilliant and you don't even have to have read the book to enjoy what is personally considered one of the best series the BBC has ever done. This first episode couldn't be a more ideal way to start things off.

The scenery and locations are stunning and the costumes, hair and make-up are true to period and a feast on the eye, which is always a great starting point for a period drama adaptation. The music is quirky yet at other times understated and is never obtrusive, letting the story speak for itself when needed.

Dialogue is incredibly thought-provoking with splashes of humour, ranging from subtle and hilarious, and emotional impact, and the story has every nuance and detail of society at the time down-pat and spot on and the telling of it is done loyally while fresh and relevant and intricate while never dragging or being too staid or too faithful. Deliberate perhaps but dull? Never.

Characters are immensely engaging and are developed just fine, Gaskell's characters like George Eliot's and Charles Dickens's were quite flesh-and-blood-like and there is a sense of that here. You'd think that you'd be annoyed by characters like Lady Harriet, but actually you might find that she later becomes one of your favourites.

The acting is superb from all, especially from Michael Gambon who is gruff yet poignant and Francesca Annis who makes a formidable character genuinely beastly. Justine Waddell is excellent and never comes across as too perfect considering her type of character, while Keeley Hawes is incredibly charming and naturally.

Bill Paterson is likable and admirably restrained. Tom Hollander, who plays a conflicted character most touchingly, and Anthony Howell, who is effortlessly dashing, provide the heart of the drama without problem. The beautiful Rosamund Pike is wonderfully feisty and forceful and also elegant and dignified, it's not a large role but Pike makes a lot out of it.

Overall, wonderful first episode to a favourite. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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