The Jewel in the Crown (TV series)

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This article is about the 1984 television miniseries. For the 1966 novel on which it was based, see The Jewel in the Crown (novel).
For the Fairport Convention album, see Jewel in the Crown (album).
The Jewel in the Crown
The Jewel In The Crown Titles.jpg
The Jewel in the Crown opening titles
Created by Christopher Morahan
Jim O'Brien
Ken Taylor
Irene Shubik
Paul Scott (novel)
Starring Art Malik
Geraldine James
Saeed Jaffrey
Peggy Ashcroft
Charles Dance
Tim Pigott-Smith
Eric Porter
Susan Wooldridge
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 14
Running time 13 hours (52 minutes per episode; first episode double-length)
Original channel ITV
Original run 9 January 1984 – 3 April 1984

The Jewel in the Crown (1984) is a British television serial about the final days of the British Raj in India during World War II, based upon the Raj Quartet novels by Paul Scott. Granada Television produced it for the ITV network.


The film opens in the fictional Indian city of Mayapore and is set during the 1940s against the backdrop of the last years of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement. Hari Kumar (Art Malik) is a young Indian man who was educated at the British public school (the term for a private school) 'Chillingborough' and considers himself English rather than Indian. The bankruptcy of his father, a formerly successful businessman, forces him to return to India to live with his aunt. He works as a journalist and becomes involved with a British woman, Daphne Manners (Susan Wooldridge), who does not share the prejudices of most of her people toward Indians. One night, after making love in a public park, the Bibighar Gardens, at the same time that violent anti-British demonstrations are taking place elsewhere in the city, Daphne and Hari are attacked by a group of unknown Indian men. Hari is beaten and Daphne is raped.

The local Indian Police superintendent is Ronald Merrick (Tim Pigott-Smith), a young Englishman who is intelligent and hardworking but is from a lower-class background. He had made advances to Daphne during her first months in India and been politely but firmly rebuffed. He holds Hari responsible for the rape and puts him in the local jail where he beats and sexually humiliates him. Merrick's motives are twofold: he resents Hari's privileged education and he resents the fact that Daphne clearly preferred Hari to him. Because Daphne refuses to cooperate with the investigation the charge of rape is not pursued, but Hari and a group of young, educated Indians also accused by Merrick are sent to prison without trial under the security regulations adopted to deal with the Indian independence movement. Word that Hari was tortured gets out and causes outrage in the Indian community, and Merrick is transferred out of Mayapore to a smaller and less important town in the province.

Daphne finds herself pregnant, she believes by Hari, but dies in childbirth. The child, a girl, is taken in by Daphne's aunt, Lady Manners, widow of a former governor of the province in which Mayapore is located. Lady Manners and the child happen to be visiting the resort area of Srinagar at the same time as another young British woman, Sarah Layton, who is there on vacation with her mother and her sister Susan. Sarah and Susan's father is the colonel of the Indian Army regiment in Pankot, a hill station near Mayapore, but is currently a prisoner of war in Germany. Susan and their mother prefer to stay away from Lady Manners due to the scandal of the child's birth, but Sarah pays a call on Lady Manners and the two women become friendly.

Sarah and her family soon encounter Merrick, who has left the police and procured a commission in the Indian Army. Susan's fiance Teddie Bingham, an Indian Army officer, is stationed in the nearby princely state of Mirat and Merrick, assigned there also, happens to be sharing quarters with Teddie. The wedding of Teddie and Susan will have to take place in Mirat because the troops there are soon to leave for the border with Burma. When Teddie's best man for the ceremony becomes ill, he asks Merrick to step in and Merrick, seeing a relationship with Teddie and the Laytons as a steppingstone to career advancement, is pleased to help. While Merrick and Teddie are driving to the ceremony a stone is thrown at their car, slightly injuring Teddie. Merrick understands that the stone was actually thrown at him, and that he is being targeted by people involved in the Indian independence movement because of his treatment of Hari Kumar and the other suspects in the Manners case in Mayapore.

Soon after the wedding Teddie and Merrick leave for the Burma front with their unit. There Teddie is killed in an ambush by soldiers of the Japanese-sponsored Indian National Army (INA). Merrick is badly wounded trying to get Teddie to safety and is evacuated to a hospital in Calcutta. Sarah visits him there at Susan's request to thank him for helping Teddie, and Sarah learns that his arm is to be amputated and that his face will always bear burn scars. Merrick reveals to Sarah that Teddie fell into the ambush because of him - Teddie left their unit to try to persuade two Indian soldiers of his own regiment who had been captured by the Japanese and joined the INA to surrender and come in. Merrick believes Teddie took this risk to prove to Merrick, who has nothing but contempt for Indians, that the Indian soldiers, even after becoming turncoats, would resume their loyalty to the British if given the chance. Teddie was wrong, and this mistake cost him his life and cost Merrick his arm.

At the insistence of Lady Manners there is a formal inquiry into the arrest and detention of Hari Kumar conducted by Nigel Rowan, an aide to the governor of the province. Rowan learns that Hari was tortured by Merrick, and as a result Hari is eventually released from prison. No action is taken against Merrick, however, and after recovering from his wounds he is promoted and assigned to intelligence activities concerning the INA. He comes in contact with the Laytons again in Bombay, as Sarah is reunited with her father, Colonel Layton, who has just been released from a German POW camp following Germany's surrender. An Indian soldier who had served with Colonel Layton and assisted the Germans after Layton's unit was captured is to be interrogated by Merrick and that is the occasion for Merrick to renew his acquaintance with the family. Merrick meets and obtains the assistance of Sergeant Guy Perron, a former academic serving in the Army, to whom Sarah finds herself attracted.

Sarah's sister Susan Layton, after the death of her husband Teddie and the difficult birth of their son, suffers a breakdown and is treated in a hospital in Pankot. When Merrick returns to the Pankot area he focuses his attention on Susan and ultimately marries her. Guy Perron later learns that Merrick blackmailed a young British clerk into giving him access to Susan's medical records, apparently so that he could gain insight into her mental problems and use it to persuade her to marry him.

With the surrender of Japan in 1945, the war in the East is ended and the days of British rule in India are numbered. Guy Perron, with the help of a well-connected relative, arranges a quick exit from the Army and goes home. Sarah and Susan's parents plan to return to England. Merrick plans to stay on, having gotten a contract from the government of Mirat to reorganize their police force.

In 1947, with the transition to Indian independence under way, Perron returns to India as an historian to observe the process. He learns that Merrick has been murdered, apparently in the course of a sexual rendezvous with a young Indian man. The young man, probably employed by the same group that had been harassing Merrick in revenge for his actions in Mayapore years ago, admitted to Merrick's quarters an assassin who killed Merrick.

The story line of the television series largely follows that of the novels although, unlike the novels, in the TV series events unfold in roughly chronological order.[1] (In the novel, Hari Kumar does not appear, except in brief vignettes, until more than halfway through The Jewel in the Crown.) More detailed descriptions of the plots are available on the individual pages of the novels:

TV series episode titles[edit]

The following titles are as given on the DVD release. The first episode was double-length (105mins). All others were 52 minutes.

1. Crossing the river

Daphne Manners arrives in India for the first time and meets Hari Kumar.

2. The Bibighar Gardens

The controversy around Daphne's and Hari's relationship escalates to a surprising degree.

3. Questions of loyalty

Hari remains in prison while Daphne gives birth.

4. Incidents at a wedding

Merrick serves as best man at Teddy's and Susan's wedding.

5. The Regimental silver

Susan prepares to celebrate her 21st birthday.

6. Ordeal by fire

Merrick reveals the details of Teddy's death.

7. Daughters of the Regiment

Sarah is the centre of attention when she visits Aunt Fenny.

8. The day of the Scorpion

Sarah meets the Count while travelling home.

9. The towers of silence

Barbie falls ill after a visit to the home of Captain Coley.

10. An evening at the Maharanee's

Merrick interrogates some suspected traitors.

11. Travelling companions

Sarah is promoted to Sergeant.

12. The Moghul room

Perron investigates the secrets in Merrick's past.

13. Pandora's box

Susan struggles to regain her balance after Merrick's accident.

14. The division of the spoils

Merrick's demise is recounted in full.

Production and reviews[edit]

The series made stars of Art Malik and Charles Dance. Other leading actors included Peggy Ashcroft (who won the BAFTA Best TV Actress award for her performance), Tim Pigott-Smith, Geraldine James, Judy Parfitt, Rachel Kempson, Eric Porter, Susan Wooldridge, Zohra Sehgal, Saeed Jaffrey, and Karan Kapoor (son of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal). The complexities of the plot ensured that no one character was at the centre of the action throughout. All four "Best TV Actress" nominations at that year's BAFTAs went to stars of the series, with Ashcroft winning over Wooldridge, James and Parfitt. Pigott-Smith won Best TV Actor.

It was shot on 16mm film, much of it on location in India. All filming not from India was filmed at Manchester's Granada Studios (now closed and replaced with a new building at MediaCityUK Salford) where tragically during the filming the studio burnt to the ground. The programme was often screened from grainy prints, but was fully remastered for its 2005 DVD release and ITV3 screening, resulting in much better picture quality.

The series is often mentioned in the same breath as Brideshead Revisited.[citation needed] In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Jewel in the Crown was placed 22nd.

Select cast[edit]

Broader context[edit]

According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications there was "a cycle of film and television productions which emerged during the first half of the 1980s, which seemed to indicate Britain's growing preoccupation with India, Empire and a particular aspect of British cultural history" [1]. In addition to The Jewel in the Crown, this cycle also included Gandhi (1982), Heat and Dust (1983), The Far Pavilions (1984) and A Passage to India (1984). The trend was spoofed on The Lenny Henry Show in the mid-1980s with a mock serial called The Jewel in India's Passage.

Mini-series co-star Charles Dance has commented how it has a devout following to this day. "I think that aired here in 1983, and there are people still to this day who assemble in each other’s houses and have Jewel In The Crown weekends and watch all 14 hours, mostly in America," he told Attention Deficit Delirium. "I have people stopping me in the street now saying that they watched Jewel In The Crown again a couple of months ago, and I think, 'Bloody hell, did you really?' So I’m known to that generation for a completely different type of work. The current film and television viewing audience is much younger, and the kind of things that I’m known for are these rather off-the-wall, slightly villainous characters in fantastical film and television things, but that’s okay. It’s better to be looked over than to be overlooked in my business." [2]


  1. ^ New York Times review of TV series
  2. ^ Reesman, Bryan (4 December 2011). "Charles Dance Talks "Neverland," "Underworld: Awakening" and "Game Of Thrones"". Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
British Academy Television Awards
Best Drama Series or Serial

Succeeded by
Edge of Darkness