Perfect Strangers (TV serial)

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Perfect Strangers
Genre Drama
Written by Stephen Poliakoff
Directed by Stephen Poliakoff
Starring Michael Gambon
Lindsay Duncan
Matthew Macfadyen
Claire Skinner
Toby Stephens
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 3
Production company(s) TalkBack Productions for BBC
Original network BBC Two
Picture format 16:9
Audio format Stereo
Original release 10 May (2001-05-10) – 24 May 2001 (2001-05-24)

Perfect Strangers (renamed Almost Strangers for American distribution) is a television drama first aired in 2001, produced for BBC Two. It was written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, and starred Michael Gambon, who won a British Academy Television Award for his performance, Lindsay Duncan, Matthew Macfadyen, Claire Skinner, and Toby Stephens. The drama received two Royal Television Society awards and a Peabody Award.

The action takes place during a large family reunion at a hotel.

It aired on BBC America under the title Almost Strangers.


The series is set over a three-day family reunion, of well more than a hundred, that draws together the extended branches of the Symon family. Raymond Symon (Michael Gambon) reluctantly attends with his wife Esther (Jill Baker) and son Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen), who was not aware of the sprawl of his extended family, because of his father's estrangement from his relatives. The stories Daniel learns about his family's past are episodic and non-linear, from his mysterious presence in a photograph taken at a children's party that he can't remember attending, to the wartime experiences of three distant elderly cousins. A central plot-line concentrates on a rift between two of his cousins (Claire Skinner and Toby Stephens) and their aunt (Lindsay Duncan) that has grown since the sudden death of the cousins' brother, and Daniel's attempts to reunite the trio. An early incident of Raymond suffering a stroke while giving a withering speech to the reunion-goers, and his subsequent bedridden state force him to appreciate the character of various relatives that reflect his own. Poliakoff's recurring use of old photographs to unlock the intricacies of individuals' lives is heavily present in this series.

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