The Onedin Line

1971 | United Kingdom

Beginning life in 1970 as a one-off Drama Playhouse presentation, The Onedin Linewas a typical piece of BBC period costume drama that the corporation have so often excelled in. 

Telling the story of James Onedin (Peter Gilmore), a 19th-century ship's master from Liverpool, whose burning ambition was to own a fleet of sailing vessels, the original production opened in 1860 as Onedin inherited the smallest part of his late fathers estate -just £25.00. With his windfall he purchased a three-mast schooner by the name of the Charlotte Rose, and set about building his business empire. However, as part of the purchase agreement Onedin agreed to marry Anne (Sheila Allen) the daughter of the ships former owner, Captain Webster (James Hayter). 

The series followed Onedin's career (accompanied by the his faithful Captain Baines -Howard Lang-) as he hopped from boardroom to bedroom to briny sea, along the way remarrying twice. Years after his first wife (Anne Stallybrass in the series), had died giving birth to his daughter, Charlotte (Laura Hartong), James married Letty Gaunt (Jill Gascoigne -later to star in the ITV crime drama The Gentle Touch), but she died too, and by the end of the series run James was married to a Spanish widow by the name of Margarita Juarez (Roberta Iger). 

The series ran for nine years (taking the Onedin saga up to 1886) and also gave early TV appearances to Jane Seymour and Kate Nelligan. Location filming was shot off Charlestown and Dartmouth in Devon and the series stirring theme tune was Aram Khachaturyan's 'Spartacus'.

Published on January 16th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.