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Classic TV Drama: The Onedin Line – S01 E14 – “Blockade”

04/02/2019

A great Brit TV Classic – this episode

James gets an offer to supply the southern states during the North American civil war. For this, he has to run a Yankee blockade, but the profits would be proportional. He decides to put all the company’s money (£2500) into boots, blankets and firearms. On the return trip, he can make another huge profit on cotton, which is in very short supply in England and dirt cheap in the southern states, also due to the blockade. Anne strongly objects to this support to slavery, but comes along anyway, as does Albert Frazer, leaving Elizabeth behind. They pick up a pilot in Bermuda, who, for £750, will take them to Wilmington, around the blockade, dangerously close to the shore. They succeed, but once there, the pilot says he wants to wait for several weeks before returning because the yanks now know they’re there. James is not so patient and decides to try it without the pilot’s help, paying the pilot only half the money, for half the trip. But he gets caught and taken to New Orleans. However, on the way there, the Yankee captain turns out to be an engineer and a man of progress, who is impressed by Albert’s design of a steamship, the Golden Nugget. So James tells him that the £30,000 he planned to make from the voyage would have gone into building the Golden Nugget. The combination of this money not getting lost to progress, the job offer by Albert and half the profits of the journey (£15,000) are enough to convince him to defect and come to England, thus averting bankruptcy for the Onedin Line.

The Onedin Line is a BBC television drama series, which ran from 1971 to 1980. The series was created by Cyril Abraham.

The series is set in Liverpool from 1860 to 1886[1] and covers the rise of a fictional shipping company, the Onedin Line, named after its owner James Onedin. Around this, it depicts the lives of his family, most notably his brother and partner Robert, a ship chandler, and his sister Elizabeth, giving insight into the lifestyle and customs at the time, not only at sea, but also ashore (mostly lower- and upper-middle-class). The series also illustrates some of the changes in business and shipping, such as from wooden to steel ships and from sailing ships to steamships. It shows the role that ships played in such matters as international politics, uprisings and the slave trade.

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