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Classic TV Drama: The Onedin Line – #30 – S03 E01 – “The Ship Devils”


A great Brit TV Classic – this episode

Widowed James busies himself with work. On his new steamship, the Anne Onedin, the passengers number coal merchant Biddulph, who arranges a shipping contract with James, and his daughter Leonora. The Callons have difficulty managing their line and sell Jack Frazer, father of Albert who is now working in Argentina, the bulk of the company whilst Daniel returns to sea. His first ship sinks due to shoddy workmanship – the rivets used to hold the boat together are inferior – or sea devils. Initially Onedin is blamed but Captain Baines discovers that the fault lay with the original builders and James is exonerated. Samuel Plimsoll, however, the ‘sailor’s friend’, come to Liverpool to support Robert in his bid to become a Liberal councillor, is unimpressed by James’ obsession with profit.

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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