“Plowboys may marry for love, if they choose, but when Pallisers marry, they marry for more important reasons.” (The Duke, Episode One of The Pallisers)
Before Downton Abbey, even before television was invented, Anthony Trollope wrote a series of six novels based on the dealings and gossip of British and Irish parliamentary life. Filled with family loyalties, societal boundaries and a soap opera storyline, The Pallisers series chronicled the life and times of Plantagenet Palliser and his wife, the Lady Glencora.
Nearly 100 years later, the BBC brought The Pallisers to the small screen with a 26-episode miniseries. Filmed in the early 1970s, this series has an “old film” quality to it. In spite of this vintage feel to the video, the settings and costuming of The Pallisers are amazing. The Pallisers’ world of mid-Victorian England is addictive television drama at its epic series finest. With Trollope’s emphasis on plot and the backroom dealings of the characters, this series is short on action but heavy on theatrical enjoyment.
It is important to note, however, that the entire Pallisers series is based on novels written in the 1800s when sensibilities were very different than today. It’s important to note that modern viewers might therefore take offense at a few of the racist and bigoted statements that are made by the characters in this series. The vulgar statements reveal the aristocratic sentiments found nearly 150 years ago, however even knowing the history behind the occasional terrible phrases does not make them less offensive.
Many actors in this series went on to be stars. The Pallisers themselves are Susan Hampshire as Lady Glencora and Phillip Latham as Plantagenet Palliser. Also included in the cast are Jeremy Irons (The Borgias), Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech), Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited) and Peter Vaughan (The Remains of the Day).
The Pallisers – 40th Anniversary Edition DVD is available from AcornOnline.com. It is an 8-disc set of 26 episodes which is approximately 22 hours of fine entertainment. The DVD set also includes closed captioning, information on Anthony Trollope and a 32-page booklet with background information on the novels and a glossary detailing each of the characters and other important terms found in the series.