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Series / Wives and Daughters

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The book Wives and Daughters was adapted twice by BBC as Miniseries in 1971 and 1999. The story revolves around Molly Gibson, only daughter of a widowed doctor living in a provincial English town in the 1830s.

The miniseries from 1971 had six episodes. Zhivila Roche was cast as Molly Gibson.

The 1999 version is a four-part miniseries based on the novel with a screenplay written by Andrew Davies. It features Justine Waddell in the lead role as Molly Gibson, Bill Paterson as her father Mr Gibson, and also Francesca Annis, Keeley Hawes, Rosamund Pike (Lady Harriet), Tom Hollander (Osborn Hamley), Anthony Howell (Roger Hamley), Michael Gambon (Squire Hamley), Penelope Wilton, Barbara Flynn (Miss Browning), Deborah Findlay, Iain Glen, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, and Ian Carmichael.

The miniseries (1999) provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Roger Hamley was not attractive in the novel and repeatedly described as awkward. In the film he is better-looking than even the actor who plays the supposedly handsome Osborne.
    • Inverted with Mr. Gibson. In the novel, he is described as having good looks and he is tall and thin. In the film, he is average-looking and borderline-stout.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Mr Gibson calls Molly "Goosey".
  • Alliterative Name: Clare Kirkpatrick.
  • Bridal Carry: An utterly tragic use of this trope: Squire Hamley carries his dead son Osborne in his arms.
  • Composite Character: In the book Lord and Lady Cumnor have several daughters, including Lady Harriet. In the series, Lady Harriet is the only one to appear, and she takes over her sisters' much more minor roles.
  • Cool Old Guy: Squire Hamley is pretty awesome. Still loves his wife after a long marriage, he has a loving if complicated relationship with his sons (till certain incident), and he has the best lines. His friendly relationship to Mr. Gibson is admirable, too. He treats him as equal and is completely honest with him.
  • Costume Drama: Being set in late Regency England/early Victorian Britain means ladies wear gorgeous dresses.
  • Daddy's Girl: Molly is the apple of Mr Gibson's eye.
  • Dies Wide Shut: Poor Osborne. He also dies alone lying under the tree so there is nobody who would comfort him and close his eyelids.
  • Dope Slap: Miss Phoebe earns one from her sister when she brings gossip about Molly and fully believes it, and also because she acts really silly and panicky instead of trying to rationally figure out what to do.
  • Flowers of Romance: Cynthia receives a beautiful bouquet though she doesn't say who sent it. It's implied she doesn't appreciates the gesture because she takes some flowers out and wears them in her hair for the ball and she gives some of them to Molly. Another bouquet sent specifically by Mr Preston ends up thrown into the fire and burnt.
  • Gossipy Hens: Miss Browning and Miss Phoebe, Miss Hornblower, Mrs Goodenough, and co. They talked about Cynthia, Molly, Mrs Gibson, Mr Preston, Lord and Lady Cumnor... Portrayed mostly sympathetically.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Step-sisters Molly and Cynthia who are fairly close friends are seen getting ready for a ball together. Cynthia is more fashionable and worldly, and she's arranging Molly's hairdo. She later spoils her bouquet and puts some of its flowers in Molly's hair.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Mrs Gibson died when Molly was a very small girl. She has a special bond with her father, but she dearly cherishes her mother's memory. She's upset when her stepmother refits her room against her wishes and threw away her stuff.
    • Cynthia's father died when she was young. Consequently Mrs Kirkpatrick had to go find work as a teacher to support them working many hours for little pay and consequently having very little time for Cynthia who was left to her own devices. This led to resentment and bitterness on both sides which is why Cynthia was sent away to boarding school when she was older enough.
  • Film of the Book: Miniseries of the book.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Both Osborne Hamley and Roger Hamley get a Shirtless Scene. It doesn't feel gratuitous because one was ill and in bed and the other hurt and in a very hot climate.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: Cynthia coldly but somewhat hastily throws a note in which Mr Preston asks her to dance with him at the ball into fire. She also says she won't dance with him and tells Molly she must't either.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Lots of ladies carry a parasol when they're outside, for instance Lady Harriet or Molly Gibson in the last episode when they stroll in the garden.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Mr Gibson gets engaged and marries Mrs Kirkpatrick. Molly dislikes it from the very beginning and has to struggle to reconcile with the very idea of her father having a wife, not to mention that she doesn't remember the woman in question very fondly.
  • Race for Your Love: Roger is going to leave Hollingford, and because Hamley Hall is infectious, he cannot say goodbye properly, so he comes near Gibson's house and Molly just waves him. She then realizes she wants to exchange a few words and runs to a post-carriage that's about to leave.Conveniently it's also raining and it looks very dramatic and romantic. She comes late but Roger got off.
  • Redemption in the Rain: In the final episode, Molly and Roger when he tells her he loves her and asks her to marry him. She just says yes. Several times. They cannot come too close because he might get Molly sick. The sexual tension is palpable as they cannot hug or kiss each other.
  • Romantic Rain: The official couple's fate is resolved when it's raining. It's very intense because they can't come close to each other because there's infection of scarlet fever in his estate. They can just talk as they stand apart and the water pours on their faces and drenches their clothes.
  • Secret Relationship: Several.
    • Roger falls in love with Cynthia and proposes, but he has to leave England for two years, so he doesn't want her to consider it binding. She also insists that nobody knows about it. Her family knows, and Mr Gibson feels obliged to tell his father because it's an honourable thing to do.
    • There are hints that Cynthia is involved in a troubled relationship. She got engaged to a man who lent her money when she was fifteen, but she wants to break it off, and he doesn't want to, claiming he loves her.
    • There is gossip in the town that Molly Gibson is involved in an ill-advised relationship that might ruin her or at least her reputation. She isn't. It was just a misunderstanding.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Osborne is ill and lies in bed shirtless. His wife tries to nurse him.
    • Roger when he's hurt and taken care of in Africa during his expedition.
  • Spirited Young Lady:
    • Molly Gibson. She's seventeen years old and not afraid to speak her mind. She loves being outside (horse-back riding, berry picking, gardening) and prefers reading or science to lady-like embroidery. She can be also very gentle, understanding, self-less and caring.
    • Lady Harriet is the coolest Spirited Young Lady there ever was. Very opinionated and well-aware of her social standing. She's very kind to Molly and simply fun to be around.
  • Those Two Guys: Those two sisters, family friends of the Gibsons, Miss Browning and Miss Phoebe have this vibe and are fairly similar characters, always paired together. Lady Harriet even calls them Pecksy and Flapsy, but promises Molly not to.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Mrs Gibson is extremely overwhelming and pushy, although she's not hateful or unkind on purpose. It's quite clear that she tries to be good to Molly, but she does it all wrong.