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Classic TV Drama: The Onedin Line – #48 – S04 E06 “Uncharted Island””


A great Brit TV Classic – this episode

Baines stumbles across a guano island. One of his crewmen realises the value of the find and seeks to record the location. Because he is illiterate, he cannot read the sextant’s last setting, instead sketching what it looks like. Back at port James and Baines set about planning to mine the island. James needs capital to put as many ships on the task as possible. Meanwhile while the crewman tells Matt Harvey, who plans to take a Frazer ship to the guano island. Baines beats him senseless. William Gladstone’s niece, seeing that the seamen’s trouble when Liverpool shipping was shut by the plague was in part due to their lack of additional skills, suggests a plan of basket making: Elizabeth cannot help but laugh at her unworldly, if kind thought. Matt’s bad directions mean he doesn’t find the island, bringing back instead whale bone (a valuable cargo) and news that the island’s guano is too acidic to be of use. Elizabeth is excited at beating James, ’til she learns that he and Baines knew, and took an acidity testing kit allowing him to mine only usable guano. He secures credit at 6%, on condition he provides training for the sailors), and makes off for a full guano run with an expanded fleet.

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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