Hornblower (TV series)

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Hornblower dvd cover.jpg
UK DVD cover
Based onMr. Midshipman Hornblower
Lieutenant Hornblower
Hornblower and the Hotspur
by C. S. Forester
Directed byAndrew Grieve
StarringIoan Gruffudd
Robert Lindsay
Paul McGann
Paul Copley
Sean Gilder
Jamie Bamber
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes8
Running time120 minutes
Production companyMeridian Broadcasting
Original networkITV
Original release7 October 1998 (1998-10-07) –
6 January 2003 (2003-01-06)

Hornblower is a series of British historical fiction war television films based on three of C. S. Forester's ten novels about the fictional character Horatio Hornblower, a Royal Navy officer during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

The series ran from 7 October 1998 until 6 January 2003, with Ioan Gruffudd in the title role. It was produced by the British broadcaster ITV Meridian, and was shown on ITV in the UK and A&E in the US. It is often repeated on ITV4.

Main cast[edit]

Other well-known actors appeared in guest roles, including Michael Byrne, Denis Lawson, Antony Sher, Ian McNeice, Andrew Tiernan, Samuel West, Christian Coulson, Cherie Lunghi, Greg Wise and Ronald Pickup.

The film series[edit]

The series consists of eight television films, which are notable for their high production values. All were later released on DVD (with the original aspect ratio of 16:9 widescreen in Europe and 4:3 in the US). In the US, the series was retitled Horatio Hornblower, and some of the films were known by different titles. The eight films cover the events of just three of the ten novels (Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, and Hornblower and the Hotspur), and various alterations and additions are made to the source material (e.g., the recurring characters of Lt. Archie Kennedy, Matthews and Styles).


Captain Pellew's ship, HMS Indefatigable, is represented by the Grand Turk, a modern copy of the frigate HMS Blandford built in 1741. To represent Hornblower's ship, HMS Hotspur, the Earl of Pembroke, a civilian ship, underwent some conversion. The Baltic trading schooner Julia and the brig Phoenix of Dell Quay were used to represent the smaller vessels. No real 74-gun ship existed any longer at the time of production (the last one, HMS Implacable, was scuttled in 1949), so HMS Justinian and HMS Renown had to be recreated as models. For the first series a quarter of a 74-gun ship (one exterior side and three open sides to shoot live action on several decks) called the pontoon was built. Later live action on the quarterdeck or the gundeck below was shot on the actual HMS Victory. Eleven scale models, ranging from 4.5 to 7 m in length, were used for the battle scenes, the largest weighing 1400 kg, and made with working rigging and cannons that were fired by remote control. Shooting locations included the Black Sea, the Livadia Palace, Portugal, and the former administration (Melville) building of the Royal William Yard and the Barbican, Plymouth in England.



Ioan Gruffudd had shown interest in participating in more Hornblower films.[1] In 2007, he reportedly discussed the possibility of a big-screen version of Hornblower, and had been attempting to gain the rights to the books by C. S. Forester."[2]


  1. ^ Jeff Jensen: "Ioan Gruffudd on Sarah Michelle Gellar, 'Ringer,' and more 'Horatio Hornblower'" from EW.com, 20 September 2011
  2. ^ "Wenn": Gruffudd Plans Hornblower Movie at contactmusic.com, 20 July 2007

External links[edit]