The Worst Week of My Life
The Worst Week of My Life is a British television sitcom, first broadcast on BBC One between March and April 2004. A second series was aired between November and December 2005 and a three-part Christmas special, The Worst Christmas of My Life was shown during December 2006, it was written by Justin Sbresni. A comedy of errors, The Worst Week of My Life follows the premise "Anything that can go wrong, does"; the story covers the week preceding the marriage of publishing executive Howard Steel and his fiancée Mel, the daughter of a high-court judge, Dick Cook. Humiliating situations ensue: Cassie, a colleague with whom Howard had a drunken one-night stand two years earlier, sets out to snare him and becomes obsessive. At the end of the first series and Mel were wed, despite the many mishaps that had befallen the well-meaning but accident-prone groom; the second series takes place in the week leading up to the birth of Howard and Mel's first baby, Howard has not yet shaken off the fate inexorably attached to him.
With his father blowing up granny's cottage, into which the married couple was preparing to move, they are forced to stay with his wife's parents once again. During the course of the week he is accused of sexual harassment at work, mistakenly arrested for'dogging', he manages to toast his father-in-law's CBE on a barbecue. Despite Howard knocking out the midwife, the series ends with the birth of Emily. A three-part Christmas special entitled The Worst Christmas of My Life was shown on BBC One in December 2006. Set: 23 December: After his office Christmas party, Howard takes his intoxicated boss Nicola in a cab to her home, after realising she's not fit to drive. During the cab ride, she vomits on him and, after taking a shower at her place, he is forced outside naked by Nicola, after she mistakes his nakedness for preparation to rape her. Howard turns up naked on his in-laws' doorstep, proceeds to urinate on the Christmas goose after the power goes out, leading to a series of events which culminate in his falsely claiming to his wife and mother-in-law that his father-in-law is dead.
He crashes into his father-in-law, drags his unconscious body inside, causes his mother-in-law to faint, makes his wife suspicious about his naked escapade the previous night when Nicola apologises and returns his clothes, destroys his wife's childhood dollhouse, to be a gift to their newborn daughter, while attempting to fix the damaged fuse that led to him urinating on the goose initially. Set: 24 December: With Dick continuing to receive wreaths and read obituaries following his "death", his contempt for Howard deepens further when he discovers Howard bought a new car with the money he was expecting to receive from the will. A freak accident involving a strimmer leads to family friend Felicity's pedigree dog, put out to stud, losing a testicle, with Howard once more taking the blame, he takes baby Emily Christmas shopping in the local shopping centre, where he gets in a fight with a drunken Father Christmas and accidentally ends up pushing around the wrong pushchair. He manages to swap the prams back and return the baby to its black parents and reclaim Emily, but Howard's despair isn't over yet as he spills mulled wine over the local Vicar when he visits the house.
Howard's visit to church on Christmas Eve sees him get in argument with Fraser over his refusal to publish his memoirs and another fight - this time with Eve's new love, who Howard saw kissing another woman at the office Christmas party. Set: 25 December: Howard receives a visit from police on Christmas morning following his fight with Mitch, while Eve is attempting suicide in the house and Fraser is accusing him of stealing his bagpipes. Meanwhile, Howard offers to help Dick repair the dollhouse but the pair are glued together as their visitors, the Bledlow family, call in for Christmas lunch. With Howard fretting about a missing condom of his that the family dog took from his room earlier, he spots it and leaves the meal to try and reclaim it, but he ends up setting fire to the front room, damaging the presents that were to be opened after lunch. Ben Miller as Howard Steel, the hapless male lead. A book publisher by trade, Howard continually puts himself in dreadful situations and makes things worse by trying to either put things right or explain what had happened.
Sarah Alexander as Mel Cook, Howard's fiancee and wife, who remains in love with him despite his mishaps. However, Mel loses patience with him as the story arc in each series progresses. Alison Steadman as Angela Cook, Mel's mother, her main role in life appears to be to entertain guests at her country home worrying about the impression that will be set following Howard-led problems. Regardless of Howards's faults, Angela tries to see the good in him and is friendlier to Howard than Dick. Whereas Dick doesn't understand why Mel loves Howard, Angela can see that the pair love each other and in the series one finale, Angela defends Howard after Dick refuses to give him the car keys to rescue Mel. Geoffrey Whitehead as Dick Cook, a High Court judge and Mel's father, he struggles to understand why Mel wanted to marry him. Janine Duvitski as Eve, Howard's assistant, she has little social life outside helping Howard. Ronald Pickup as Fraser Cook, Dick's brother. Obsessed by his days in the army, Fraser will offer rather pointless advice about life.
He is a closet homosexua
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson is a television series created by Sheldon Reynolds. It starred Geoffrey Whitehead, Donald Pickering and Patrick Newell in the title roles of Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and Inspector Lestrade respectively; the series is considered rather obscure, was filmed on a low budget in Poland. Sheldon Reynolds structured a deal with the state Polish Television to take over Poltel Studios to produce television shows. Anthony Burgess was brought on as a consultant. Reynolds recycled some aspects from his earlier 1954 television series starring Ronald Howard such as scripts and the conceit of having Inspector Lestrade an equal co-star with Holmes and Watson. Filming was done for low cost and co-star Pickering remarked "The schedule for filming was hectic and there were the odd dangerous moments. I remember; that was hairy!"According to guest director Roy Ward Baker, as production wrapped up the head of Polish television who had spearheaded the deal was arrested for corruption.
The films were confiscated leading to inconsistent distribution. K. and aired on a single U. S. station in 1982. "A Motive for Murder" "The Case of the Speckled Band" "Murder on a Midsummer's Eve" "Four Minus Four is One" "The Case of the Perfect Crime" "The Case of Harry Rigby" "The Case of the Blind Man's Bluff" "A Case of High Security" "The Case of Harry Crocker" "The Case of the Deadly Prophecy" "The Case of the Baker Street Nursemaids" "The Case of the Purloined Letter" "The Case of the Travelling Killer" "The Case of the Sitting Target" "The Case of the Final Curtain" "The Case of the Three Uncles" "The Case of the Body in the Case" "The Case of the Deadly Tower" "The Case of Smith & Smythe" "The Case of the Luckless Gambler" "The Case of the Shrunken Heads" "The Case of Magruder's Murder" "The Case of the Other Ghost" "The Case of the Close-Knit Family" Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson on IMDb
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, under the pen name Mary Westmacott, six romances. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to literature. Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Devon. Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches, she was an unsuccessful writer with six consecutive rejections, but this changed when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published in 1920. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.
Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold 2 billion copies, her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare's works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages, and Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery and one of the best-selling books of all time. Christie's stage play, it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952, as of September 2018 is still running after more than 27,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award; the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers' Association.
On 15 September 2015, coinciding with her 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was named the "World's Favourite Christie" in a vote sponsored by the author's estate. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, video games and comics, more than thirty feature films have been based on her work. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon, she was the youngest of three children born to Frederick Alvah Miller, an affluent American stockbroker, his British-born wife Clara Miller née Boehmer. Agatha's mother Clara had been born in Belfast in 1854 to Captain Frederick Boehmer and Mary Ann West as the couple's only daughter. Boehmer was killed in a riding accident while stationed on Jersey in April 1863, leaving his widow to raise the children alone on a meagre income. In that same year, 1863, Mary Ann's sister Margaret married a wealthy American, Nathaniel Frary Miller, the couple settled in Southbourne, West Sussex.
Their marriage was childless, but Nathaniel had a son, from a previous marriage. Frederick had been sent to Switzerland for his education. Since Mary Ann was penniless and her sister Margaret was wealthy but childless, they arranged that Clara should be raised by her aunt and uncle, it was at the Miller's residence that Clara met her maternal aunt's step-son. She and Frederick soon developed a romantic relationship and were married in April 1878; the couple's first child, Margaret Frary Miller, was born in Torquay, where the couple were renting lodgings. Their second child, Louis Montant, was born in the U. S. state of New York. When Frederick's father Nathaniel died, he left his daughter-in-law Clara £2000, it was here that her third and final child, was born. Christie described her childhood as "very happy", she was surrounded by a series of independent women from an early age. Her time was spent alternating between her home in Devon, her step-grandmother and aunt's house in Ealing, West London, parts of Southern Europe, where her family would holiday during the winter.
Agatha was raised in a household with various esoteric beliefs and, like her siblings, believed that her mother Clara was a psychic with the ability of second sight. Agatha's sister Margaret had been sent to Roedean in Sussex for her education, but their mother insisted that Agatha receive a home education; as a result, her parents were responsible for teaching her to read and write and to master basic arithmetic, a subject she enjoyed. They taught her music, she learned to play both the piano and the mandolin. According to biographer Laura Thomson, Clara believed that Agatha should not learn to read until she was eight. However, thanks to her own curiosity, Agatha taught herself to read much earlier. One of the earliest known photographs of Christie depicts her as a little girl with her first dog, whom she called George Washington. Christie was a voracious reader from an early age. Among her earliest memories were those of reading the children's books written by Mrs Molesworth, including The Adventures of Herr Baby, Christmas Tree Land, The Magic Nuts.
She read the work of Edith Nesbit, including The Story of the Treasure Seekers, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Railway Children. When a little older, she moved on to re
Cabin Pressure (radio series)
Cabin Pressure is a radio sitcom written and created by John Finnemore and directed and produced by David Tyler. It follows the exploits of the eccentric crew of the single aeroplane owned by "MJN Air" as they are chartered to take all manner of items, people or animals across the world; the show stars Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch. The series was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2008. Critical reception to the series was positive and four series have been broadcast, along with a special 2010 Christmas Day episode; the fourth series consisting of six episodes was broadcast in January and February 2013. The show's finale, entitled "Zurich", was broadcast as a two-part special on 23 and 24 December 2014; the series' opening music is Mikhail Glinka's Overture to Lyudmila. The story takes place at MJN Air, the world's smallest airline, consisting of just one 16-seater plane: a "Lockheed McDonnell 312", registration Golf Echo Romeo Tango India, thus nicknamed "Gerti"; the company name derives from when owner Carolyn Knapp-Shappey was awarded Gerti as part of her divorce settlement with her awful Australian husband Gordon Shappey and thus proudly proclaimed that Gerti was: "My Jet Now".
The company is so small, with Carolyn joking that rather than an airline MJN is more of an "airdot" than an "airline", that everything is run on a tight budget and they are willing to take on any job to keep the business going. The company is based in the fictional Fitton Airport, located somewhere in the Midlands; each episode is named after a different city each beginning with successive letters of the alphabet. The episodes were not broadcast in alphabetical order, but The Complete Cabin Pressure: From A to Z collection does play the episodes alphabetically; the story follows the day-to-day working life of MJN Air and its crew of four: Carolyn, the owner and stewardess. Much of the plot revolves around the relationship between Martin. While Martin is the captain, Douglas is more experienced, most people consider Douglas to be superior to him in every way; when meeting both men most guests mistakenly believe Douglas to be the captain rather than Martin. Carolyn refers to Douglas as the "good pilot" and Martin as the "safe pilot".
While Douglas gets paid, Martin does not because Carolyn cannot afford it. Thus Martin has a second job with his own business, Icarus Removals, using a van he inherited from his late father, lives a life of poverty. Douglas, has to do his job in order to pay two different alimonies, tries to keep secret from his third wife Helena that he is not a captain, it is revealed that Helena is having an affair. Douglas is a recovering alcoholic, having been sober for a period of several years at the time the story begins, although he tries to prevent anyone else from knowing about it, fearing it will tarnish his image. Much of the time spent on the flight-deck is spent with the crew playing various games to pass the time such as "People Who Aren't Evil But Have Evil Sounding Names", "Brians of Britain", "Books That Sound More Interesting with the Final Letter Knocked Off" and "The Travelling Lemon", in which the crew try to hide a lemon in plain sight of the passengers without anyone complaining; this is the origin of the phrase "The lemon is in play," used by Douglas in the episodes Qikiqtarjuaq and Zurich Part 2.
Though MJN squabble among themselves, in several episodes the crew unite to combat a common enemy or problem. A recurring antagonist is Gordon Shappey, Carolyn's ex-husband and Arthur's father, who resents Carolyn obtaining the jet in the divorce and tries to reacquire it through fair means and foul. Other recurring characters include Mr Birling, who every year hires the plane to take him to see the final match in the Six Nations Rugby Union tournament. On "Birling Day", the crew toady to Birling in the hope; every Birling Day Douglas attempts to steal Birling's whisky and sell it on while Carolyn and the rest of the crew try to stop him. Another recurring character is Captain Hercules "Herc" Shipwright, a former colleague of Douglas who now works at Scottish airline Air Caledonia. Herc is an occasional rival to Douglas and a love interest to Carolyn, though she is reluctant to reciprocate Herc's affections. Princess Theresa of Liechtenstein appears in the final season, first appearing when she hires MJN to take her younger brother and ruling monarch King Maxi to Fitton so he can return to school.
She and Martin begin a romantic relationship. In the two-part series finale Martin is given a paid job at Swiss Air, which means MJN has to close down and Gerti has to be sold. However, when Gordon tries to purchase Gerti, Arthur puts in a gigantic bid to stop his father from buying the plane. Douglas suspects that there is something valuable hidden on the plane and MJN manage to buy back Gerti, his suspicions prove correct when he discovers that Gordon had replaced the wiring of the plane with gold, not expecting that Carolyn would get the plane in their divorce. Martin concludes he is more skilled pilot than he thought, having been struggling in the past years with a poorly weighted plane, the solution to Carolyn's financial problems has been right under her nose all along
War and Remembrance (miniseries)
War and Remembrance is an American miniseries based on the novel of the same name written by Herman Wouk, which aired from November 13, 1988, to May 14, 1989. It is the sequel to The Winds of War, based on one of Wouk's novels; the television mini-series continues the story of the extended Henry family and the Jastrow family starting on December 15, 1941 and ending on August 7, 1945. Robert Mitchum as Capt. Victor "Pug" Henry Jane Seymour as Natalie Henry Hart Bochner as Byron Henry Victoria Tennant as Pamela Tudsbury Polly Bergen as Rhoda Henry Sami Frey as Avram Rabinovitz William Schallert as Harry Hopkins Jeremy Kemp as Brig. Gen. Armin von Roon Steven Berkoff as Adolf Hitler Robert Hardy as Winston Churchill Zevi Wolmark as John Simms Topol as Berel Jastrow Ralph Bellamy as Franklin D. Roosevelt John Gielgud as Aaron Jastrow David Dukes as Leslie Slote E. G. Marshall as Dwight D. Eisenhower Sharon Stone as Janice Henry Barry Bostwick as Carter "Lady" Aster Ian McShane as Philip Rule John Rhys-Davies as Sammy Mutterperl Robert Morley as Alistair Tudsbury Peter Graves as Palmer Kirby Hardy Krüger as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel Bill Wallis as Werner Beck Michael Woods as Warren Henry Robert Stephens as SS Major Karl Rahm Peter Vaughan as General Kurt Zeitzler Barry Morse as Col. Gen. Franz Halder Leslie Hope as Madeline Henry Eddie Albert as Breckinridge Long Sky du Mont as Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg Richard Dysart as Harry S. Truman Lawrence Dobkin as General George S. Patton John Dehner as Admiral Ernest King Pat Hingle as Admiral William "Bull" Halsey William Prince as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Mike Connors as Col. Harrison "Hack" Peters G. D. Spradlin as Admiral Raymond A. Spruance Brian Blessed as General Yevlenko Howard Duff as William Tuttle G.
W. Bailey as Commander Jim Grigg R. G. Armstrong as General'Moose' Fitzgerald Charles Lane as Admiral William Standley Norman Burton as General George Marshall Nina Foch as Comtesse de Chambrun Milton Johns as Adolf Eichmann Wolfgang Reichmann as Martin Bormann Geoffrey Whitehead as Albert Speer John Malcolm as Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel Wolfgang Preiss as Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch Anthony Bate as Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt Kenneth Colley as SS Colonel Paul Blobel Clifford Rose as SS Lt. General Heinz Kammler Wolf Kahler as SS Major Anton Burger Michael Sarne as SS Captain Schwarz William Berger as Consul General Jim Gaither John Barrard as Oskar Friedman Jack Ging as Commander William Berscher Michael Madsen as Lt.'Foof' Turhall War and Remembrance had a multi-year production timeline. It was the most expensive single-story undertaking in United States television history up to that point, costing $104 million and taking over ABC's broadcast schedule for two one-week periods in 1988 and 1989, totaling 30 prime-time hours.
Up to that point, television had been dominated by the Big Three broadcasting networks in the United States, ABC, NBC and CBS. Shortly afterwards, cable television began the fragmentation of the United States broadcasting audience in earnest, leaving War and Remembrance the last of the giant miniseries. Miniseries had been major events on American television and ABC had produced some of the most seminal, under its ABC Novels for Television banner, including QB VII, Rich Man, Poor Man, Roots: The Next Generations, Masada; because Herman Wouk was happy with Dan Curtis's 1983 ABC Novel for Television adaptation of The Winds of War, Wouk allowed Curtis to adapt the sequel novel as well. Paramount Television, the studio behind The Winds of War, decided not to produce the sequel and sold the rights to ABC, which had only aired the original series. ABC first planned a $65 million, 20-hour series, but when they went to Curtis, he said he wanted to make a $100 million, 30-hour series, which they greenlit.
There were contractual restrictions on advertising: Herman Wouk had approval over all ads and refused to allow any advertising for personal care products, foods, or other ABC programming. Two major eventual sponsors were Ford Motors and Nike. In addition, Wouk required that certain Holocaust sequences run uninterrupted by commercials of any kind. ABC's standards and practices division agreed to an unprecedented waiver allowing frontal nudity during the lengthy Holocaust sequences, running parental advisories before any episodes beginning before 8pm; the series was nearly called off in 1985, just as it was nearing the completion of $16 million in preproduction, when ABC was bought by Capital Cities Communications, which instituted a thrifty executive direction. Several actors were changed between The Winds of Remembrance. Actor John Houseman played Aaron Jastrow in Winds of War, but was too frail for War and Remembrance's lengthy production schedule, he died of spinal cancer in 1988, the year War and Remembrance was broadcast.
He was replaced by John Gielgud. Jane Seymour was cast as Natalie Henry in place of Ali MacGraw after Seymour campaigned for the role and made a screen test. Dan Curtis was struck by her performance and cast her in the vital role; because the miniseries was shot out of sequence, producers could not cut Jane Seymour's hair for the scenes in the concentration camp. Make-up artists took shears to a full scalp wig for her to wear for those scenes instead; the actor Jan-Michael Vincent, who played Byron Henry in the Winds of War, was busy in the American television series Airwolf as an action lead. It is hinted in the featurette on the Winds of War DVDs that Vincent's drinking made him difficult on set, he was replaced by Hart Bochner. Other major replacements include Sharon Stone as Janice, Leslie Hope as Madeline, Michael Woods as Warren, Robert Morley as Alistair Tudsbury, Ba
An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film and television; the analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art. In ancient Greece and Rome, the medieval world, the time of William Shakespeare, only men could become actors, women's roles were played by men or boys. After the English Restoration of 1660, women began to appear on stage in England. In modern times in pantomime and some operas, women play the roles of boys or young men. After 1660 in England, when women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress were used interchangeably for female performers, but influenced by the French actrice, actress became the used term for women in theater and film.
The etymology is a simple derivation from actor with -ess added. When referring to groups of performers of both sexes, actors is preferred. Actor is used before the full name of a performer as a gender-specific term. Within the profession, the re-adoption of the neutral term dates to the post-war period of the 1950 and'60s, when the contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed; when The Observer and The Guardian published their new joint style guide in 2010, it stated "Use for both male and female actors. The guide's authors stated that "actress comes into the same category as authoress, manageress,'lady doctor','male nurse' and similar obsolete terms that date from a time when professions were the preserve of one sex.". "As Whoopi Goldberg put it in an interview with the paper:'An actress can only play a woman. I'm an actor – I can play anything.'" The UK performers' union Equity has no policy on the use of "actor" or "actress". An Equity spokesperson said that the union does not believe that there is a consensus on the matter and stated that the "...subject divides the profession".
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times stated that "Actress" remains the common term used in major acting awards given to female recipients. With regard to the cinema of the United States, the gender-neutral term "player" was common in film in the silent film era and the early days of the Motion Picture Production Code, but in the 2000s in a film context, it is deemed archaic. However, "player" remains in use in the theatre incorporated into the name of a theatre group or company, such as the American Players, the East West Players, etc. Actors in improvisational theatre may be referred to as "players". In 2015, Forbes reported that "...just 21 of the 100 top-grossing films of 2014 featured a female lead or co-lead, while only 28.1% of characters in 100 top-grossing films were female...". "In the U. S. there is an "industry-wide in salaries of all scales. On average, white women get paid 78 cents to every dollar a white man makes, while Hispanic women earn 56 cents to a white male's dollar, Black women 64 cents and Native American women just 59 cents to that."
Forbes' analysis of US acting salaries in 2013 determined that the "...men on Forbes' list of top-paid actors for that year made 21/2 times as much money as the top-paid actresses. That means that Hollywood's best-compensated actresses made just 40 cents for every dollar that the best-compensated men made." The first recorded case of a performing actor occurred in 534 BC when the Greek performer Thespis stepped onto the stage at the Theatre Dionysus to become the first known person to speak words as a character in a play or story. Prior to Thespis' act, Grecian stories were only expressed in song, in third person narrative. In honor of Thespis, actors are called Thespians; the male actors in the theatre of ancient Greece performed in three types of drama: tragedy and the satyr play. Western theatre developed and expanded under the Romans; the theatre of ancient Rome was a thriving and diverse art form, ranging from festival performances of street theatre, nude dancing, acrobatics, to the staging of situation comedies, to high-style, verbally elaborate tragedies.
As the Western Roman Empire fell into decay through the 4th and 5th centuries, the seat of Roman power shifted to Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. Records show that mime, scenes or recitations from tragedies and comedies and other entertainments were popular. From the 5th century, Western Europe was plunged into a period of general disorder. Small nomadic bands of actors traveled around Europe throughout the period, performing wherever they could find an audience. Traditionally, actors were not of high status. Early Middle Ages actors were denounced by the Church during the Dark Ages, as they were viewed as dangerous and pagan. In many parts of Europe, traditional beliefs of the region and time period meant actors could not receive a Christian burial. In the Early Middle Ages, churches in Europe began staging dramatized versions of biblical events. By the middle of the 11th century, liturgical drama had spread from Russia to Scandinavia
The Cadfael Chronicles
The Cadfael Chronicles is a series of historical murder mysteries written by the linguist-scholar Edith Pargeter under the name "Ellis Peters". Set in the 12th century during the Anarchy in England, the novels focus on Benedictine monk Cadfael who aids the law with solving murders. In all, Pargeter wrote twenty Cadfael novels between 1977 and 1994; each draws upon the storyline and developments of previous books in the series. Pargeter planned the 20th installment as the final book of the series. Pargeter herself died shortly following a long illness. Many of the books were adapted into both radio episodes in which Ray Smith, Glyn Houston and subsequently Philip Madoc played the monk, a television series starring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael. Pargeter's Cadfael Chronicles are sometimes credited for popularizing what would become known as the historical mystery; as a character, Cadfael is a conversus, only entering the cloister in his forties after being both a soldier and a sailor. He is a skilled observer of a talented herbalist.
He is inquisitive by nature and has an innate, although modern, sense of justice and fair-play. Abbots call upon him as a medical examiner, detective and diplomat, his worldly knowledge, although useful, gets him in trouble with the more doctrinaire characters of the series, the seeming contradiction between the secular and the spiritual worlds forms a central and continuing theme of the stories. By contrast, some men entered the cloistered life as young boys just old enough to attend school, or in their early teens. Many of Cadfael's brother monks had been sent as children to the monastery. Abbot Radulfus instituted a policy of not accepting such young ones except for schooling; the stories are set between 1137 and 1145, during the Anarchy, the destructive contest for the crown of England between King Stephen and Empress Maud. Many true historical events are referred to in the books. For example, the translation of Saint Winifred to Shrewsbury Abbey is fictionalised in the first chronicle, A Morbid Taste for Bones, One Corpse Too Many is inspired by the siege of Shrewsbury Castle by Stephen in 1138.
The burning of Worcester puts the characters on the run and into Shropshire in The Virgin in the Ice. The pillage of Winchester and burning of the abbey there sends the monks who are the centre of the story to Shrewsbury Abbey in An Excellent Mystery. In Dead Man's Ransom, the fictional characters are involved in the small group of Welsh who involve themselves in the Anarchy at the Battle of Lincoln, drawing the historical prince of Gwynedd, into the plot. Empress Maud's brief stay in London, trying to gain approval for her coronation while she holds Stephen in prison is the start point for one character in The Pilgrim of Hate; the next turning of Henry of Blois's coat and the rising fortunes of King Stephen involve the Abbot and send three new people into the Foregate and the Abbey in The Raven in the Foregate. One main character in The Hermit of Eyton Forest arrives in Shropshire while Empress Maud is besieged in Oxford Castle, from her camp. In The Potter's Field, Hugh Beringar's force is called to the Fens to aid King Stephen in controlling the rampaging Geoffrey de Mandeville.
The quarrel between Owain Gwynedd and his impetuous younger brother Cadwaladr on account of Cadwaladr's murder of the prince of a southern principality in Wales, combined with the push to spread the Roman rite into Wales, are the story told in The Summer of the Danes. In novels where the plot does not hinge on a historical event or have historical characters walking through the story, it will focus on one or two aspects of life in medieval England. Examples include the importance of pilgrimage in The Heretic's Apprentice, the wool and cloth making trades in The Rose Rent, the rules of inheritance under Welsh law in Monk's Hood, specific merchant trades in Saint Peter's Fair and The Sanctuary Sparrow; the annual fair raised funds for the Abbey, authorised by Earl Roger or King Henry I. The use of a house of worship for sanctuary from secular law is a feature of The Sanctuary Sparrow. Cadfael is an herbalist, whose skills and potions bring him into contact with people outside the monastery, integral in the plots not dependent on a historical event.
Although the series is fiction, historical people are portrayed in the series. They include: King Stephen Empress Maud Robert of Gloucester and his son Philip Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex Robert of Leicester Owain Gwynedd, his brother Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd, his son Hywel William of Ypres Bishop Henry of Blois Bishop Roger de Clinton Abbots Heribert and Robert Pennant Henry I of England A distinctive feature of the series is a pair of star-crossed lovers in nearly every book, who invariably get the full sympathy of Brother Cadfael. Cadfael bends his full energy and ingenuity to the double task of solving the mystery and bringing the lovers to a happy union. In this latter, he seems the literary descendant of Shakespeare's Friar Laurence who made great efforts to help Romeo and Juliet. Cadfael is far more successful, with all pairs of lovers in the series getting off to happy consummations, except when one of them turns out to