The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

1978 | United Kingdom

This charming adaptation of Muriel Spark's enduring 1961 tale (which was first published in 'The New Yorker') about a 1930s Edinburgh schoolteacher with somewhat radical ideas of education was inspired by the success, some 10 years earlier, of the 20th Century Fox movie version starring Maggie Smith in an Oscar winning lead role. 

Jean Brodie is an eccentric and egotistical teacher at the Marcia Blaines School for Girls where she gets the chance to mould and influence the lives of the impressionable 16-year-olds in her 'set' or class. Some of Brodie's opinions are quite radical, too-especially her fascination with Fascism and her enthusiasm for Hitler. And boiling below the surface is a smouldering sexuality, which Brodie knowingly uses to manipulate the two men in her life; bachelor fellow teacher Mr Gordon Lowther and the married art master Teddy Lloyd, whose jealousy Brodie hopes to arouse by making known her relationship with Lowther. Many of these intrigues, especially Brodie's radical political beliefs, were toned down somewhat for the TV series and Geraldine McEwan played the lead with a lighter touch than her predecessors (on stage -Vanessa Redgrave, then Anna Massey and -in the USA, Zoe Caldwell) whilst maintaining an almost aristocratic elegance and a mischievous glint in her eye as she attempted to turn all of her girls into the 'creme de la creme.' 

The series was produced by Richard Bates, son of Darling Buds of May author, H.E.Bates and the series adaptor Jay Presson Allen knew his subject well as he had written both the original play adaptation and the screenplay for the movie.

Published on January 21st, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus (26 July 2004) for Television Heaven.