The Pillars of the Earth (miniseries)

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The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth.png
Genre Historical drama
Based on The Pillars of the Earth 
by Ken Follett
Screenplay by John Pielmeier
Story by Ken Follett
Directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Theme music composer Trevor Morris
Country of origin
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 8 (List of episodes)
  • Executive producers:
  • David A. Rosemont
  • Jonas Bauer
  • Tim Halkin
  • Michael Prupas
  • David W. Zucker
  • Rola Bauer
  • Tony Scott
  • Ridley Scott
  • Producers:
  • John Ryan
Running time

(Episodes) 60 minutes

(Full running time) 428 minutes
Production company(s)
Budget $40 million
Original channel
Original release July 23, 2010 (2010-07-23) – August 27, 2010 (2010-08-27)
Followed by World Without End
External links

The Pillars of the Earth is an eight-part 2010 TV miniseries, adapted from Ken Follett's novel of the same name. It debuted in the U.S. on Starz and in Canada on The Movie Network/Movie Central on July 23, 2010. Its UK premiere was on Channel 4 in October 2010 at 9pm. In 2011, the series was nominated for 3 Golden Globes, including Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Ian McShane for Best Actor and Hayley Atwell for Best Actress at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards.


Like the novel on which it is based, the miniseries centres on the construction of a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge during a tumultuous period of English history known as The Anarchy in the 12th century.



The miniseries took about a year to produce, at a cost of US$40 million.[1] The project was funded by the German production company Tandem Communications, the Canadian film company Muse Entertainment Enterprises, and the UK and U.S. based Scott Free Productions. It was filmed in Austria and Hungary in 2009.[2] The final aerial shot is of modern day Salisbury with a CGI cathedral combining elements of Salisbury Cathedral and Wells Cathedral, to represent the complete fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral, which were the two cathedrals which inspired Follett, during the writing of the novel.[3][4] The series was followed by an adaptation of the sequel World Without End in 2012.


In the first U.S. broadcast by Starz, episodes 1 and 2, as a series premiere, and episodes 7 and 8, as a series finale, were broadcast together as a single episode, using only a single introduction and ending credits. In the 2011 broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the series was re-cut into nine episodes. In December 2012, the series was shown in Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in four parts at weekly intervals, combining pairs of episodes each with a single introduction.


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
1 "Anarchy" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier July 23, 2010 (2010-07-23) 0.690[5]
The succession to the crown of England is left in doubt after the heir to the throne dies in the White Ship disaster in 1120. Eighteen years later, in 1138, this lack of heir causes Henry I of England's daughter and nephew to compete for the throne. Church politics see Philip, a monk, elected as the new prior, which leaves him indebted to Archdeacon Waleran. Lady Aliena of Shiring rejects the marriage proposal of William Hamleigh. Tom Builder and his family are left destitute when William Hamleigh dismisses them from building his house. While in the forest, they meet Ellen and Jack, a mother and son living wild in the woods. After the death of Tom's wife, Agnes, in childbirth, the group end up at Shiring Castle just as it is attacked by the Hamleighs in revenge for William's humiliation.
2 "Master Builder" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier July 23, 2010 (2010-07-23) 0.690[5]
Tom, Ellen, and the children make their way to Kingsbridge Priory and encounter Tom's abandoned baby taken in by the monks. A fire caused by Jack destroys Kingsbridge church, giving Tom, his son Alfred, and stepson Jack the chance to build a new cathedral. Prior Philip learns the power of politics when he gets caught between Bishop Waleran and the Hamleighs' quest for Shiring Castle. Kingsbridge is rocked by the accusation of Ellen being a witch. William and his underling, Walter, take Aliena and Richard by surprise in a brutal attack that leaves the siblings shaken. Aliena makes a promise to her father, Earl Bartholomew. Ellen makes a daring escape with the help of Prior Philip and others.
3 "Redemption" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier July 30, 2010 (2010-07-30) 0.298[6]
Aliena protests her father's imprisonment. Prior Philip and William find themselves in a standoff over access to stone in the Shiring quarry. Waleran and Regan plot to have the cathedral moved from Kingsbridge to Shiring. Jack's artistic talents take hold as he begins to carve a statue to honour the cathedral relic. King Stephen visits the cathedral work site but collapses in a fit of terror. Aliena starts a fleece business to help earn money for Richard's expenses as a knight. William is concerned that he'll burn in hell for his many sins.
4 "Battlefield" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier August 6, 2010 (2010-08-06) 0.361[7]
Four years later, in 1141, Maud is besieged at Lincoln Castle, and Robert of Gloucester can't come to her aid for some time. William applies to have his father's title of earl transferred to him and discovers a mysterious knight is also a rival for the earldom. Meanwhile, Regan arranges to have Waleran absolve William of all past and future sins in an effort to conquer William's fear of hell. King Stephen, frightened by Jack's appearance, orders an assassin to kill him. The battle between King Stephen and Maud sees each side's leader being taken hostage. Philip is tortured into a confession when Waleran tells Maud that he is the man who betrayed Earl Bartholomew.
5 "Legacy" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier August 13, 2010 (2010-08-13) 0.364[8]
Waleran and Regan engineer the prisoner exchange so that they remain on the winning side of the war. Tom wants Jack and Alfred to be friends, but their rivalry over work and Aliena is too intense. Meanwhile, William decides to attack Kingsbridge to stop the fleece fair and Aliena's success. The Hamleighs and Prior Philip are granted rights to Shiring land but at a price. Alfred's jealousy of Jack reaches new heights.
6 "Witchcraft" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier August 20, 2010 (2010-08-20) 0.432[9]
Richard returns from war to find his sister penniless and unable to support his knighthood. Alfred offers himself to Prior Philip as master builder. Aliena has to choose between her love for Jack and her oath to her father. Nearly a year later, Regan forces Waleran to speak to the king about William's long-delayed earldom. A disaster at Kingsbridge becomes a way for Waleran to remove Prior Philip from his position. Aliena gives birth to Jack's son and is thrown out by Alfred, but finds comfort with Jack's mother and stepsister.
7 "New Beginnings" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier August 27, 2010 (2010-08-27) 0.607[10]

It is 1146. As a result of his travels, Jack has learned how to fulfil Tom Builder's dream of a cathedral filled with light. Aliena tracks Jack by following the trail of his carvings. Waleran offers Philip a new position but it means that Philip must always obey Waleran. Kingsbridge becomes prosperous again, infuriating Regan and William, who plan an attack meeting resistance from Richard, Jack, and Philip.

NOTE: Ken Follett has a cameo role in this episode as the merchant who tells Jack the story of his father's sailing.
8 "The Work of Angels" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan John Pielmeier August 27, 2010 (2010-08-27) 0.607[10]
Ten years later, in 1156, Jack's fixation with the cathedral leaves him little time or energy for anything else, while Aliena's fixation with the distant Earldom of Shiring has married her to Alfred, a man she hates. Waleran and Alfred develop a plot to get rid of Jack for good and it seems to be working until evidence comes to light that makes all wrongs rectified. The bishop Waleran's schemes are exposed and he suffers his ultimate punishment. Jack and Aliena marry and, on A.D. 1170, the Cathedral is finally finished.
  • The premiere was simulcast on both Starz and Encore. On Starz 423,000 people watched, and on Encore 267,000 people watched, for a total of 690,000 total viewers. [5]

See also[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2011 Primetime Emmy Awards[11] Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special for (one Hour)
for the episode "The Work of Angels"
Marcel Pothier
Christian Rivest
Dominik Pagacz
Guy Pelletier
Antoine Morin
Tom Trafalski
Guy Francoeur



  1. ^ Chozick, Amy (July 23, 2010). "Small Screens, Big Budgets". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Pillars of the Earth - Muse Entertainment". Muse. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ken Follett: Is Kingsbridge real?". Ken Follett. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ken Follett on the Cathedrals in The Pillars of the Earth". May 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Seidman, Robert (July 26, 2010). "Starz 'The Pillars of the Earth Draws 690,000 For Premiere Between Starz & Encore". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  6. ^ Seidman, Bill (August 2, 2010). "Friday Cable: Huge Night for iCarly + Eureka, Haven, The Pillars of the Earth & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 9, 2010). "Friday Cable: Phineas and Ferb + Eureka, Haven, The Pillars of the Earth & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 16, 2010). "Friday Cable: Den Brother + Eureka, Haven, The Pillars of the Earth & More". TV but the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  9. ^ Seidman, Robert (August 23, 2010). "Friday Cable: Eureka Down a Bit; Suite Life on Deck Draws Over 4 Million & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Seidman, Robert (August 30, 2010). "'Pillars of the Earth Finishes on a High Note". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Person of Interest". Retrieved September 20, 2011. 

External links[edit]