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Classic TV Drama: The Onedin Line – #54 – S05 E02 – “Rescue”


A great Brit TV Classic – this episode

James returns, surprising Harris, to negotiate a return for his six ships full of Black Sea grain. The cargo will pay off interest on Onedin debt but no capital. However, as part of the agreement the bank will foreclose on the house James provided for Miss Gaunt and Charlotte. James suggests that they move into his house and reassures Letty that he will appoint a housekeeper, to protect her reputation. She coyly replies “there is an alternative, James”, to which James looks slightly startled. James sails for Turkey and on the way back agrees to take a passenger, Margesson (Edward Hardwicke) to rescue his family for £500. It becomes obvious that the detour is far more difficult and dangerous than James had been led to believe, and ultimately the man finds his house ransacked, his wife dying and his son already dead. James and the crew escape with their lives, but without the promised recompense. James ponders Letty’s ‘alternative’. Meanwhile Elizabeth is being pursued by Macaulay to become a partner and have more say in how the company is run as a result of his capital investment. Macaulay also starts buying up James’ debts.

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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