The Mallens

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The Mallens
Genre Drama
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 13
Producer(s) Granada Television
Original network ITV
Original release 10 June 1979 – 1980

The Mallens was a popular Granada Television adaptation of Catherine Cookson novels that ran for 13 episodes from 1979 to 1980. The series is based on The Mallen Streak, The Mallen Girls, and The Mallen Litter.

Plot summary[edit]

Mallen Streak[edit]

It is about a ruthless 19th century Northumberland Squire Thomas Mallen (played by John Hallam) of Highbank hall, who has a genetic white streak in his hair and fathers numerous illegitimate children, who inherit the trait and live tainted lives. One of them is Donald Radlet (John Duttine), who stars in both The Mallen Streak and The Mallen Girls. Thomas Mallen is then made bankrupt after his attempt to get his legitimate son Richard (David Rintoul) married to a girl from a wealthy family; he fails due to his son losing his temper at a servant and killing a bailiff in the process causing Thomas Mallen to lose everything. This forces him to move to a small cottage along with his nieces Barbara (Pippa Guard) and Constance (Julia Chambers) and their Governess Anna Brigmore (Caroline Blakiston), who starts a relationship with the now bankrupt Squire. Some time after this Donald along with his half brother Matthew Radlet (Ian Saynor) comes to the cottage and meets his father. A short time after this he and his brother start developing a romance with both Barbara and Constance. While Donald is courting Barbara, he is also secretly trying to take Constance away from his brother, who has now fallen in love with her. Donald eventually achieves this by the end of the Mallen Streak.

Mallen Girls[edit]

In the Mallen Girls Matthew and Constance are secretly meeting and on one occasion sleep together. Constance says they should be married but Matthew refuses, fearing his brother and that he is dying. He tells her to say yes if Donald should make a marriage proposal but she refuses. Mrs Brigmore, realising what has happened persuades Constance to marry Donald in fear that Constance may now be pregnant. She marries Donald and later gives birth to a son named Michael. Meanwhile, Thomas Mallen, still with Brigmore starts turning to drink and sleeping with other women. Eventually one night he mistakes his niece Barbara for someone else, rapes her and realising what he has done commits suicide. Sometime after this it is revealed that Barbara is pregnant with her uncle's child. Months later Barbara dies while giving birth to a daughter, who is also named Barbara. Donald then comes to take the child, so that he can lay claim to her inheritance left to her by her half brother Richard. Richard had managed to get bail and become very rich over seas. Donald hopes that by doing this he will be able to buy Highbank hall. Mrs Brigmore refuses to, realizing that Donald does not care for the child, as well as out of guilt for failing to stop Barbara being raped. Donald refuses to listen and says that the child is now his. When Donald goes to pick up Barbara, Matthew comes along. After some last attempt to change his half brothers mind, Matthew wrestles with Donald, causing them both to fall to their deaths.

Mallen Secret[edit]

The next two parts differ considerably from the books in the ending.

Taking place several years later the Mallen Secret begins with Barbara (Juliet Stevenson) unaware of her true parentage. This is caused in part due to being deaf and partly because she is shielded by her guardian Brigmore. She encounters Michael Radlet (Gerry Sundquist) who is also unaware of his true parentage. His mother Constance (now played by June Ritchie) has made him believe he is Donald Radlet's son. He and Barbara soon meet and develop feelings for one another. Both Brigmore and Constance manage to put an end to this. Later on Michael becomes engaged to another woman and Barbara learns of her true parentage. Eventually in a jealous rage she attacks Michael's fiance, Sarah, causing her to lose her leg. This act drives Michael and Barbara apart ending the Mallen Secret.

Mallen Curse[edit]

The Mallens is finally concluded in the Mallen Curse, set just after Barbarra attack on Sarah. Michael threatens Sarah's brother Jim, that he will chuck them off the farm if they get Barbarra arrested. Barbara Mallen has now moved on from Michael and married someone else just as Michael has done, but as they meet again their passion is re-ignited, as they start secretly seeing each other. Eventually their actions lead to terrible consequences for everyone around them. This leads Brigmore to tell Barbara that she never wants to see her again. Barbara eventually drags Michael underwater to their deaths, thus ending the Mallens story.[1]

Differences in the novel[edit]

  • The ending to the series is considerably different. Barbara and Michael both go on to have their own children.
  • At the beginning of the novels Donald and Matthew are 13 and 11 years old and Constance is 7 years old and Barbara is 10 years of age.


  1. ^ "The Mallen Streak" PART ONE, Chapter 1, PART TWO, Chapter 1 for Donald's and Matthew's ages and PART ONE, Chapter 2 for Barbara's and Constance's ages

External links[edit]