Masterpiece Theatre: Bramwell

Bramwell, Series IV

Sundays, January 10 and 17, January 31 through February 21
(check local listings)

Could it be true love at last for Dr. Eleanor Bramwell, the fetching physician of Victorian-era London played by Jemma Redgrave?

Her many fans will want to tune in to find out on Bramwell, Series IV, the latest installment of her adventures, sexual and surgical, on MASTERPIECE THEATRE, airing Sundays, January 10 and 17, and January 31 through February 21, 1999 on PBS (check local listings).

Last season's viewers will remember the handsome Dr. Finn O'Neill (Andrew Connolly), who dealt brusquely with Eleanor's application to join his prestigious hospital but gradually warmed to the idea of a female doctor--particularly this one.

The new series finds the infatuated pair at a seaside hotel, masquerading as cousins to the locals. One thing leads to another and when Eleanor's widowed father, Dr. Robert Bramwell (David Calder), learns the truth, he declares his daughter a ruined woman and banishes her from the family home.

In another new plot development, Robert himself has an intrigue brewing with beer baroness Alice Costigan (Maureen Beattie), even as Eleanor's charity hospital cares for two men scalded in the hazardous working conditions at the brewery.

Robert's romance survives the beer plant imbroglio. But can it survive Alice's interest in a new medical man--Dr. Aubrey Savier, whom she turns to when her nephew falls ill?

Meanwhile all this trysting is vexing Dr. Joe Marsham (Kevin McMonagle), who once had eyes for Eleanor and now decides to leave the charity hospital for a better paying job in Scotland. But then he learns that his wife has breast cancer. Desperate to save her, he puts his trust in the surgical skill of the Bramwells.

Other new episodes deal with Rose, a brain-deformed attraction in a London sideshow, and the shocking (to Eleanor) affair between a staid surgical equipment supplier and a transvestite in London's homosexual underworld. It is the savvy Dr. Marsham who must explain the facts of life to Eleanor in this particular case.

Whether playing seductress, Victorian prude, pioneer feminist, or seasoned surgeon, Jemma Redgrave's Dr. Bramwell comes across as a completely believable, intriguing human being. "She emerges as a complex mixture," writes TV critic Paul Hoggart in an appreciation in the London Times, "driven, almost obsessive, fiercely independent yet vulnerable, intelligent but unworldly, insufferably priggish but impulsive and passionate, defiant but riddled with guilt."

Overall, says Hoggart, a "superb performance."

Bramwell, Series IV is a WGBH Boston presentation. The series creators are Harriet Davison, Lucy Gannon, and Tim Whitby. The writers are Lucy Gannon, Helen Greaves, Brian Thompson, Peter Lloyd, and Jonathan Rich. The directors are Kate Cheeseman, Paul Murton, David Tucker, Paul Unwin, and Tim Whitby, and the producers are Harriet Davison and Tim Whitby.

Masterpiece Theatre is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston, where Rebecca Eaton is series executive producer. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Russell Baker is series host. Masterpiece Theatre is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH.

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