Parade's End (TV series)

This article is about the TV series. For the Ford Madox Ford novels, see Parade's End.
Parade's End
Series title within a reflecting prism
Genre Period drama
Based on Novel by Ford Madox Ford
Written by Tom Stoppard
Directed by Susanna White
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch
Rebecca Hall
Adelaide Clemens
Composer(s) Dirk Brossé
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 5 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Michel Buck
Damien Timmer
Producer(s) David Parfitt
Selwyn Roberts
Cinematography Mike Eley
Running time 57–59 minutes (five-part version)
46 minutes (six-part version)
287 minutes (full running time)
Production company(s) Mammoth Screen in association with HBO miniseries
Original network BBC/HBO/VRT
Original release 24 August 2012 (2012-08-24) – 21 September 2012 (2012-09-21) (BBC)
26 February 2013 (2013-02-26) – 28 February 2013 (2013-02-28) (HBO)
External links
HBO: Parade's End

Parade's End is a five-part BBC/HBO/VRT television serial, which is an adaptation of the tetralogy of novels (1924-28) of the same name by Ford Madox Ford. It premiered on BBC Two on 24 August 2012 and on HBO on 26 February 2013. The series was also screened at the 39th Ghent Film Festival on 11 October 2012.[1] Its five episodes were directed by Susanna White and written by Tom Stoppard.[2][3] The cast was led by Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall as Christopher and Sylvia Tietjens, along with Adelaide Clemens, Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Anne-Marie Duff, Roger Allam, Janet McTeer, Freddie Fox, Jack Huston, and Steven Robertson.[4]

The series received widespread critical acclaim and is often cited as "the highbrow Downton Abbey".[5][6] In its BBC Two premiere, it attracted 3.5 million viewers, making it BBC Two's most watched drama since Rome aired in 2005. The miniseries received six BAFTA TV nominations including Best Actress for Rebecca Hall and five Primetime Emmy Award nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay for Tom Stoppard and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. It won Best Costume Design at the BAFTAs.[7][8]

Plot summary

For episode-by-episode synopses, see below.

In the years before the First World War, three Britons are drawn into fraught and ultimately tragic relations: Anglican Christopher Tietjens, second son of the lord of the manor of Groby, Yorkshire, who is a disconsolate, Tory statistician in London; Catholic Sylvia Satterthwaite, his promiscuous and self-centered socialite wife who has married him only to hide the fact that their son is not really his; and freethinking Valentine Wannop, a young suffragette and daughter of a lady novelist, who is torn between her idealism and her attraction to "Chrissy". As the war works a profound change on Europe, and Chrissy is badly wounded in France, the conflict shatters and rearranges the lives of all three principals, as well as virtually everyone else in their elite circle.


The series was conceived when Damien Timmer approached playwright Tom Stoppard to write the adaptation; after reading the novels, Stoppard agreed to pen the screenplay,[9] this marking his return to television after a 30-year absence.[10] Stoppard has stated that he had considered Benedict Cumberbatch for the role of Christopher Tietjens even before Sherlock made him a global star.[11][12] Adelaide Clemens was cast as Valentine after arriving for her audition in period clothing. Initially producers were reluctant to cast an Australian actress, but were won over on finding that Clemens' father is a British national.[13] A significant part of the film was shot on location in Kent at Dorton House and St. Thomas a Becket Church.[14] Additional scenes were filmed at Freemasons' Hall in London and Duncombe Park. The rest of the series was filmed in Belgium, including Poeke Castle in the town of Aalter,[15] utilising television drama tax breaks, with scenes at the Western Front recreated in Flanders.[16]

Stoppard made changes from the original, such as excluding most of the fourth novel, streamlining the plot to focus on the love triangle, and adding overt sex scenes.[17] The exclusion of the fourth novel is not without precedent; it was also done in Graham Greene's 1963 edition of Parade's End and Ford himself sometimes referred to it as a trilogy. "He may have written the fourth to fulfill a contract or because he needed more money," said Michael Schmidt, the executor of Ford's literary estate.[17]


Episode list

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewers (million)[18]
1"Episode One"Susanna WhiteTom Stoppard24 August 2012 (2012-08-24)3.52
1908: Christopher Tietjens is a dour and very wealthy government statistician while Sylvia Satterthwaite is a selfish and promiscuous socialite. He marries the pregnant party girl hastily, although the real father may be her married lover Gerald Drake, as Christopher's elder brother Mark points out. Three years on, Sylvia is an unloving mother, disdainful of her husband's Tory views and intellectual bent as well as unfaithful. She absconds to France with a new admirer, "Potty" Perowne, but Christopher forgives her and has her back for their son's sake. Sojourning in Germany, her mother expresses her own misgivings. Whilst playing golf with a reactionary M.P., Christopher rescues young suffragette Valentine Wannop, who is being pursued by the police in the course of a day of direct action on the links. Along with his working class but talented writer friend Vincent MacMaster, Christopher is unwittingly invited to a meal with Valentine's novelist mother and her friend Edith Duchemin, wife of a pedantic vicar whose eccentric behaviour brings Edith and Vincent closer. Christopher and Valentine also find themselves romantically drawn to each other in the fog during the summer solstice.
2"Episode Two"Susanna WhiteTom Stoppard31 August 2012 (2012-08-31)2.30
1914: Sylvia and Christopher reunite in Germany even as she has the unwanted duty of informing him of his mother's death. Back at the Tietjens family estate in Yorkshire, she shocks mourners at her mother-in-law's funeral with her elegant attire. Realising that she is reviled, she retreats to a convent, but is soon back in society with another admirer. Suspicions arise that Valentine and Christopher are having an affair, as they had been seen at daybreak in a horse and carriage. Christopher develops his friendship with the Wannops, giving the mother a valuable hint about the Balkan situation for her writing, and pointedly mentioning the daughter in his Christmas card. Vincent's fortunes as a writer continue to rise and, after her husband's strangeness results in institutionalization, Edith begins living with Vincent despite some mortifying incidents at a resort. She becomes pregnant and has an abortion after seeking advice from Valentine, who is not quite as worldly as she seemed. As the Great War breaks out, the Wannops are badly harassed for their pacifism. Christopher quits his job in disgust after being ordered to manipulate military statistics to bolster support for the war. He encounters Valentine at a party, and both reticently and painfully all-but-declare their feelings for each other before he leaves to fight in the trenches.
3"Episode Three"Susanna WhiteTom Stoppard7 September 2012 (2012-09-07)2.15
1915-16: Despite receiving a white feather for cowardice, Vincent becomes a very influential author and marries Edith after the Reverend Duchemin kills himself. They are the subject of gossip and scandal which also, erroneously, involves Christopher, who is wounded and shell-shocked in a French hospital. Sylvia entertains yet another admirer, her husband's banker Brownlie, but defends Christopher against his malicious gossip. Christopher — now an Army captain — returns home on leave, but Sylvia's erstwhile German sympathies and past indiscretions, plus the effect of Brownlie's invidious actions (he craftily bounces Christopher's cheques), makes them exceedingly unpopular in society. Tietjens' father is so devastated by the gossip that he shoots himself after an afternoon of hunting. Angered by this, Christopher refuses to take any of the money he has left over. Despite the scandal, Christopher and Sylvia attend a soirée at the MacMasters, where Christopher again encounters Valentine, now working as a teacher. Aware that he is supposed to have already taken Valentine as a mistress, Christopher moves haltingly toward making that a reality. They plan to tryst, but the consummation is thwarted when Edward, Valentine's brother, abruptly returns home on leave from the Navy. Before Christopher returns to France, Valentine tells him that she will wait for him.
4"Episode Four"Susanna WhiteTom Stoppard14 September 2012 (2012-09-14)1.70
1917: Christopher is in Rouen in a "safe" assignment with his godfather General Campion (although they are routinely being shelled) and with his unbalanced subordinate McKechnie. His job is to kit out fresh troops for the front and he directs that the men are to be humanly treated and the horses properly cared for. This brings him into conflict with his unfeeling superiors, such as General O'Hara. Sylvia, who has been enduring the Zeppelin raids in London, defiantly arrives in Rouen and greets Christopher at a hotel. She swears that she has been faithful to him for five years and he grants her permission to live, with their son Michael, at Groby, the Tietjens family estate in Yorkshire. They commence to make love in Sylvia's room, but are interrupted by a lustful Potty Perowne whom Christopher forcefully pushes out. O'Hara arrives on the scene and accuses Sylvia of being a whore after seeing Perowne. Christopher then angrily accuses O'Hara of drunkenness and the general has him placed under house arrest. To spare Christopher further scandal, Campion makes him a second-in-command with a fighting battalion near the front. As he bids Christopher farewell, he responds to the question of what to do with a troublesome wife with "Divorce the harlot! Or live with her like a man!".
5"Episode Five"Susanna WhiteTom Stoppard21 September 2012 (2012-09-21)1.77
February 1918: Christopher, McKechnie, and Perowne have all been sent to fight in the trenches, amidst mud, carnage and madness. Perowne is killed in an explosion. When Colonel Bill Williams, the commanding officer, suffers a nervous breakdown, Christopher replaces him. Back home, Valentine, whilst advocating that her fellow teachers read Marie Stopes' Married Love, shocks her mother by asserting that she will become Christopher's mistress upon his return. Sylvia meets up with Gerald Drake once again and finally gives in to infidelity once more. 11:00am, 11 November 1918 (Armistice Day): Christopher returns to Groby, to discover that the ancient "Groby Tree" — a centuries-old cedar and symbol of continuity and tradition — has been chopped down on Sylvia's orders. When he confronts her in her bedroom, she states that she's terminally ill, a claim he coldly ignores. Back in London, Christopher is chased down by Valentine, and he greets her, apparently unenthusiastically. Although he says he will never divorce Sylvia, for the boy's sake, he does warm to Valentine again and it is clear that she is now finally his mistress. To mark the end of the war, and an era, they celebrate with his old army comrades as a chunk of the "Groby Tree" burns in the fireplace.

Six episode version

In some markets, such as France, the series was broadcast and released on DVD in six episodes instead of five. There is however no difference in content between the two versions. Indeed, the episodes in the six-part version have an episode length of approximately 46 minutes each, instead of the 57 to 59 minutes of the five-part version.


The series has received widespread acclaim from British critics with The Independent's Grace Dent going so far as to proclaim it "one of the finest things the BBC has ever made".[19] Others praised Cumberbatch and Hall in the lead roles, Cumberbatch for his ability to express suppressed pain with The Independent's Gerard Gilbert saying "Perhaps no other actor of his generation is quite so capable of suggesting the tumult beneath a crusty, seemingly inert surface"[20] and The Arts Desk's Emma Dibdin finding "Cumberbatch's performance... faultless and often achingly moving, a painful juxtaposition of emotional stiffness and deep, crippling vulnerability".[21] Hall's Sylvia was lauded as "one of the great female characters of the past decade" by Caitlin Moran, who also wrote that "the script and direction have genius-level IQ" in her Times TV column.[22]

“It’s an astonishing performance not least because it seems somehow to take on the authority of a lost generation of great acting. He uses his voice so rich and deep and subtle like the grand piano of one the great actors of the Laurence Olivier generation. Yet his Tietjens is character acting carried to a point where authenticity transcends itself and turns into something heroic. This is a performance that ranks with Roger Livesey in Michael Powell’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp  — a parallel work, as it happens —  or the very best work of Alec Guinness.”

—Arts critic Peter Craven on Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens[23]

Parade's End attracted 3.5 million viewers for its first episode, making it BBC2's most watched drama since Rome aired in 2005.[24] The second episode had a drop in ratings with 2.2 million viewers.[25] A few viewers found the sound mixing problematic, with dialogue difficult to hear and understand.[26]

The miniseries received generally favourable reviews from American and Canadian television critics for its HBO broadcast, according to Metacritic. Writing for Roger Ebert's Chicago Sun-Times column, Jeff Shannon wrote that the miniseries has "up-scale directing" and "award-worthy performances"[27] while Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press called it "a television masterpiece".[28]

Ford's tetralogy of novels became a best-seller after the dramatisation was broadcast on BBC.[29]

Awards and nominations

Parade's End has been nominated for numerous awards since its original broadcast. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall won the Broadcasting Press Guild awards for Best Actor and Actress respectively, while Tom Stoppard picked up the Writer's Award and the series itself won Best Drama Series.[30]

The miniseries received six BAFTA TV nominations including Best Actress for Rebecca Hall and five Primetime Emmy Award nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay for Tom Stoppard and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. It won Best Costume Design at the BAFTAs.[31]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Tom Stoppard Nominated
BAFTA Television Awards Best Leading Actress Rebecca Hall Nominated
Best Mini-Series Tom Stoppard, Susanna White, David Parfitt, and Damien Timmer Nominated
Best Costume Design Sheena Napier Won
Best Make-up & Hair Design Jan Archibald Nominated
Best Production Design Martin Childs Nominated
Best Visual Effects and Graphic Design Rupert Ray Nominated
Best Writer – Drama Tom Stoppard Nominated
Biarritz International Festival of Audiovisual Programming Best TV Series or Serial Nominated
Best Screenplay Tom Stoppard Won
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography in a Television Drama Mike Eley Nominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch Won
Roger Allam Nominated
Best Actress Rebecca Hall Won
Best Drama Series/Serial Won
Writer's Award Tom Stoppard Won
Broadcast Awards Best Drama Series or Serial Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a TV Movie/Mini-Series Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated
Best Actress in a TV Movie/Mini-Series Rebecca Hall Nominated
Royal Television Society Awards Best Drama Serial Nominated
Best Production Design – Drama Martin Childs Nominated
Best Graphic Design – Titles Rupert Ray Won
South Bank Sky Arts Awards Best TV Drama Won
International Press Academy Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Benedict Cumberbatch Nominated


BBC Books produced a tie-in edition of Parade's End with Cumberbatch, Hall and Clemens on the cover. It was made available in the UK on 16 August 2012.[32]

A Parade's End companion book by Tom Stoppard from Faber & Faber was also made available.[29] It contains the script and includes production stills and deleted scenes not included in the broadcast.

The soundtrack by Dirk Brossé was released in digital and physical copies on 2 October 2012.[33]

DVD and Blu-ray copies of the series were released by the BBC on 8 October 2012. They include behind the scenes footage and selected interviews with crew and cast members.[34]


  1. "Film Festival Ghent 2013". Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  2. "Parade's End". BBC. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  3. Goldberg, Lesley (3 June 2011). "HBO Back in War Business With 'Parade's End'". THR. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  4. Conlan, Tara (19 September 2011). "Rupert Everett and Miranda Richardson join BBC2 Stoppard drama". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  5. Goodman, Tim. "Parade's End: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  9. "Parade's End: Sir Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Ford Maddox Ford's series of novels for BBC Two". BBC. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  10. "Tom Stoppard interview for Parade's End and Anna Karenina". The Daily Telegraph.
  11. "Quotes from Empire Magazine article on Parade's End". 26 July 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  12. "Benedict Cumberbatch returns in Parade's End". The Daily Telegraph.
  13. Godwin, Richard (28 September 2012). "After the Parade". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  14. Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Parade's End Article".
  15. Whitlock, Cathy (February 2013). "Tour the Glamorous Sets of Parade's End". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  16. "George Osborne plans TV drama tax breaks". BBC News. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  17. 1 2 Alter, Alexandra (21 February 2013). "TV's Novel Challenge: Literature on the Screen". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  18. "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.
  19. Grace Dent (9 September 2012). "Grace Dent on Television: Parade's End, BBC2". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  20. Gerard Gilbert (25 August 2012). "First Night: Parade's End, BBC2". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  21. Dibdin, Emma (22 September 2012). "Parade's End, Series Finale, BBC Two". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  22. "Parade's End – TWoP Forums – Page 3". Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  24. Bryant, Ben (28 August 2012). "Parade's End gives BBC2 biggest drama ratings hit in seven years". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  25. Deans, Jason (3 September 2012). "Parade's End marches on but loses out in battle for Friday night ratings". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  26. "Benedict Cumberbatch Drama 'Parade's End' Gets Praise, But Complaints About Inaudible Dialogue". The Huffington Post (UK edition). 27 August 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  27. "Parade's End Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times.
  28. "Cumberbatch brilliant in Brit period miniseries". Winnipeg Free Press.
  29. 1 2 "Parade's End". Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  31. Harvey, Chris (9 April 2013). "Bafta TV nominations are a mix of the snubbed and the overpraised". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  32. "Sherlockology, The BBC Books tie-in edition of the original novel". Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  33. "'Parade's End' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  34. "Parade's End [Blu-ray]: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Roger Allam, Adelaide Clemens, Anne-Marie Duff, Rupert Everett, Stephen Graham, Janet McTeer, Miranda Richardson, Rufus Sewell, Susanna White, David Parfitt, Selwyn Roberts, Tom Stoppard, Ford Madox Ford: Film & TV". Retrieved 23 December 2012.
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