Daniel Deronda (TV series)

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Daniel Deronda
Daniel Deronda (TV serial).jpg
Genre Drama
Based on Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
Screenplay by Andrew Davies
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring Hugh Dancy
Romola Garai
Hugh Bonneville
Jodhi May
Theme music composer Rob Lane
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 3
Executive producer(s) Kate Harwood
Laura Mackie
Rebecca Eaton
Producer(s) Louis Marks
Editor(s) Philip Kloss
Running time 210 minutes
Production company(s) WGBH Boston for BBC
Original network BBC1
Picture format 16:9 576i
Audio format Stereo
Original release 23 November (2002-11-23) – 7 December 2002 (2002-12-07)
External links

Daniel Deronda is a British television serial drama adapted by Andrew Davies from the George Eliot novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Hooper, produced by Louis Marks, and was first broadcast in three parts on BBC One from 23 November to 7 December 2002. The serial starred Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda, Romola Garai as Gwendolen Harleth, Hugh Bonneville as Henleigh Grandcourt, and Jodhi May as Mirah Lapidoth. Co-production funding came from WGBH Boston.


Set in 1870's England, the story revolves around the overlapping narratives of two central characters. Daniel Deronda (Hugh Dancy) is an intelligent and handsome young man of obscure origins who has been raised as part of the family of his loving guardian, Sir Hugo Mallinger (Edward Fox). Gwendolen Harleth (Romola Garai) is a spoiled but very beautiful young woman living with her mother and sisters in an obscure country neighbourhood. She dazzles her neighbours with her beauty and accomplishments and is confident that she will marry a rich man. The likelihood of this increases when she is introduced to a neighbour, Henleigh Grandcourt (Hugh Bonneville), who is heir to Sir Hugo Mallinger. He becomes infatuated with Gwendolen and shows a clear intention to propose; although Gwendolen is not in love with him, she intends to accept. However, on the day of the proposal, Gwendolen meets a woman (Greta Scacchi) who claims to be Grandcourt's mistress and presents three children she claims are his offspring. She tells Gwendolen that she left her husband for Grandcourt and begs Gwendolen not to marry him because it will ruin her children's prospects as his heirs. Horrified by this revelation, Gwendolen promises not to marry Grandcourt and accepts an invitation to travel to Germany with some friends to avoid him.

In Germany, Gwendolen captures the attention of Daniel Deronda, making extravagant wagers in a casino. When she returns to her room, she finds a telegram from her mother, informing her that the family is now bankrupt, thanks to bad investments. With no money for the journey home, she pawns a valuable necklace but it is returned to her before she leaves. She realizes the person is Deronda.

Once back in England, Gwendolen is desperate to improve her family's circumstances. When Grandcourt arrives, proposing marriage and offering to support her family, she reluctantly accepts. Meanwhile, in London, Daniel Deronda rescues a young woman (Jodhi May) trying to drown herself. He takes her to the home of some friends to recover and learns that she is a Jewish singer named Mirah Lapidoth who had run away from her father, and in despair, tried to commit suicide. As she recovers, Deronda becomes more interested in her and the Jewish faith.

After Gwendolen's marriage, the once docile Grandcourt turns into a controlling and abusive brute intent on crushing Gwendolen's spirit. He openly flouts the second family he is maintaining. Gwendolen meets Deronda again and the two become friends and Deronda becomes Gwendolen's confidant. Simultaneously he is focused on improving Mirah's circumstances, using his position to promote her as a singer, despite anti-semitic prejudice prevalent in society. Through him, she is reunited with her long-lost brother, Mordecai (Daniel Evans).

Unexpectedly Deronda receives a letter from his mother, the Contessa Maria Alcharisi (Barbara Hershey), requesting to meet him in Genoa. Grandcourt senses the connection between his wife and Deronda and forces Gwendolen to take a Mediterranean cruise with him. Knowing Deronda will be there as well, Gwendolen has them stop in Genoa. Daniel meets his mother, discovering she is a famous Jewish singer. She gave Daniel to one of her admirers, Sir Hugo, so that he could be raised as an English gentleman and not as a Jew. She confesses that she is dying and wished to see him one last time. Daniel is elated to discover he is a Jew and tells his mother that it is not something he could ever be ashamed of.

Returning from this encounter, Daniel sees a woman being pulled from the sea and realizes it is Gwendolen. Grandcourt drowned when he was knocked off their sailboat, and Gwendolen was rescued after jumping in after him with a rope. However, alone with Deronda in her hotel room, Gwendolen confesses that when Grandcourt went into the water she hesitated to throw the rope, prepared to let him drown. Eventually she jumped in, but it was too late. Deronda comforts her and tells her that it does not make her a bad person, and she declares that she wants to be with him. However, Daniel cannot deny his love for Mirah and Sir Hugo reluctantly gives his blessing. He meets Gwendolen, who has returned to live with her family, to tell her the news. Although disappointed, she gives him her best wishes and declares that because of knowing him, she will be a better person in life. Daniel and Mirah marry and sail away.



Louis Marks originally wanted to make a film adaptation of the novel but abandoned the project after a lengthy and fruitless casting process. The drama took a further five years to make it to television screens.[1] Filming ran for 11 weeks from May to August on locations in England, Scotland and Malta.[2] The serial was Marks' final television production before his death in 2010.[3]


The film received a rating of 82% according to Rotten Tomatoes.[4]


British Academy Television Craft Awards[5]
  • Sound—Fiction/Entertainment – Won
  • Editing—Fiction/Entertainment – Won
  • Photography & Lighting—Fiction/Entertainment – Nominated
  • Make Up & Hair Design – Nominated
  • Costume Design – Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards[6]
  • Best Drama Series/Serial – Won
Banff Rockie Award[7]
  • Best Miniseries – Won


  1. ^ Fox, Chloe (undated). "High drama". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group).
  2. ^ Bamigboye, Baz (31 May 2002). "Gretna's wedding TV curse". Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers): p. 52.
  3. ^ Hayward, Anthony (7 October 2010). "Louis Marks obituary". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). Retrieved on 17 October 2010.
  4. ^ Rotten Tomatoes rating. at Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ "Craft Nominations 2002". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved on 17 October 2010.
  6. ^ "2003". Broadcasting Press Guild. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  7. ^ Robertson, Colin (10 June 2003). "BBC2 comedy drama honoured at Banff" (subscription access). Broadcast (Emap Media).

External links[edit]