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Bramwell Retrospective

The first episode of the Bramwell series debuted on Masterpiece Theatre in April of 1996. Since that time, the life and loves of the unconventional Dr. Eleanor Bramwell in Victorian London have amazed, engaged, and, occasionally, dismayed us. Herewith, a definitive overview of each episode of each of the previous five series which have appeared on Masterpiece Theatre.

Series I | Series II | Series III | Series IV | Series V



Bramwell, Series I
Young Dr. Eleanor Bramwell is caring, talented, and passionate about medicine -- yet the doctor is barely tolerated by the medical establishment. In 1895 a woman was not expected to display new ideas, boundless energy, and a driving ambition to become a leading surgeon. With the odds stacked against her, Eleanor is determined to pursue her dream. But is society ready for Eleanor?



Series I, Episode 1
originally broadcast 4.7.96
As a favor to Robert Bramwell, Sir Herbert Hamilton permits Eleanor Bramwell to assist at the East London hospital where he presides. But her constant questioning and her refusal to be relegated to a back seat in the hospital's operating theatre puts them irrevocably at odds. Eleanor finds Sir Herbert arrogant, hypocritical, and ultimately inhuman to his patients, one of whom, Lady Victoria Carstairs, is a friend. She disagrees with his judgment about the treatment for Lady Victoria (whose husband has given her syphilis) and also on that for Daniel Bentley, a laborer whose foot was crushed in an accident. Events prove Eleanor is right in both cases, further enraging Sir Herbert, who bans her from the hospital.

Introduction by Russell Baker
In England, in 1895, a woman's place was most definitely in the home. Men were so wedded to this idea that it took a very brave woman to defy it. At best, she could expect to be mocked and humiliated. At worst -- as with women demonstrating for the right to vote -- she risked brutal abuse. One suffragette jailed for taking part in such demonstrations later wrote that she'd tried to continue her protest by fasting. Her jailers dealt with that by tying her to a bed and force-feeding her with funnel and tubes. Despite all our boasting about democracy, it wasn't until 1920 that the Nineteenth Amendment finally gave American women the right to vote. Tonight's story is about a young woman doctor in London in 1895, and she is not only very brave, but also stubborn and passionate. I suspect she's a good portrait of what our great-grandmothers were like 100 years ago. At least those of our great-grandmothers who were fed up with the idea that woman's place was in the home... and on fire to do something about it. Eleanor Bramwell insists that woman's place is also in the operating room. Her fellow doctors detest the idea and detest Eleanor herself for being there. I should caution those of you who are squeamish about such things that a few brief scenes depicting surgery in the 19th century are quite realistic. They are quickly over, however, and should not detract from your pleasure in the story if you avert your eyes for a moment or two. Our star is Jemma Redgrave, a third-generation member of that distinguished British acting family, the Redgraves. Now Bramwell. first installment.



Series I, Episode 2
originally broadcast 4.14.96
Eleanor's commitment to medicine does not go unnoticed. She wins the admiration of Lady Cora Peters, a wealthy woman who sets her up in a small charitable infirmary. To supplement her work at the infirmary, Eleanor accepts her fathers invitation to work part-time in his private practice. Eleanor's first attempts at doctoring are marked by frustration. Her first private patient, the music hall performer Miss Peggy Heart, neglects her health and collapses on stage during a performance; her first prospective surgery at the Thrift Infirmary is thwarted when the patient, Frank Harrison, refuses a lifesaving hernia operation.

Introduction by Russell Baker
She is "Doctor" Bramwell, not "Miss," and she has to keep reminding people of it. The time is 1895, and London is not ready to have its hernias repaired or its venereal diseases treated by a woman. For that matter, neither is the male medical establishment. Last time, we saw her banned from the hospital where she'd been working, because her independence sorely chapped the chief surgeon. He is Sir Herbert Hamilton, who treats depression in women by removing their ovaries. Eleanor's opposition to this kind of therapy has irritated Sir Herbert. When she argues with him about how to treat venereal disease, he fires her. "The female brain isn't suited to scientific matters," he tells her. Never mind. Eleanor's self-confidence is indomitable. If she can't work at Sir Herbert's hospital, she will create a hospital of her own. With financial help from the well-to-do Lady Peters, Eleanor has opened a small charitable infirmary for the poor of London's East End. Her high-minded view of the deserving poor is going to be shaken by those who come to her clinic. Her view of her widowed father will also be shaken when she discovers that, gray and fatherly though he is, he has not given up the romantic pursuit of women. Relations between father and daughter are an important part of the Bramwell story. Her father, a distinguished doctor, is one of the few who respects Eleanor as a colleague. He wants her to share in his own private practice instead of exhausting herself at her clinic in the slums. Eleanor has agreed to meet him halfway and accept the occasional private patient. Tonight she meets with her very first one. Episode two, Bramwell.



Series I, Episode 3
originally broadcast 4.21.96
Eleanor returns to the East End of London to test residents for tuberculosis. She and Nurse Carr are stunned when Bertie Stuart Armstrong refuses treatment after he is diagnosed with TB. Undaunted, Eleanor continues to visit Bertie and discovers he is from a very wealthy family. When Bertie's condition worsens, Eleanor decides to return him to his family home in London. It is only then that she discovers the reason for his estrangement. At the same time, Dr. Robert Bramwell is experimenting with the new science of electro-therapy. Oswald Grimes insists on serving as the doctor's guinea pig.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Eleanor Bramwell sometimes seems terribly young for such a skilled doctor. Last time, we saw her chastise her widowed father for having a mistress. It's often hard for young people to believe their parents have a sex life. Eleanor's discovery that her father is still vulnerable to love and desire provokes her to give him a moral lecture, telling him he owes it to his dead wife to reject his mistress. Her father replies with a small scolding about Eleanor's readiness to accept the vices of her slum patients while moralizing about the weaknesses of people like him. "It's not only the poor and dirty who need compassion," he tells her. The virtue of youth is its appetite for seizing the world by the shoulders and trying to make it behave itself. Eleanor has plenty of that impulse in her, too. When she sees the deprivation and pain of the poor, she becomes a dynamic do-gooder. She's persuaded a patron to finance a small clinic where she can serve the "poor and dirty" of London's East End. She has gradually learned that poverty does not confer nobility on her patients or leave them feeling grateful for the help she gives them. Tonight she learns another lesson about the dangers of youthful enthusiasm for doing good. Like an irresistible force, she insists on helping a man who doesn't want to be helped, and discovers that sometimes it is wiser to leave bad enough alone. Episode three, Bramwell.



Series I, Episode 4
originally broadcast 4.28.96
Eleanor is flattered by the attention of Dr. Samuel Hunter and assists him in treating his ailing housekeeper, Mary Warner. When Mary dies, a series of unexpected events calls Dr. Hunter's character into question. Eleanor begins to suspect the doctor of murder and seeks to prove his complicity in Mary's death.

Introduction by Russell Baker
You may be starting to wonder why Eleanor Bramwell has no love life. She is devoted to the poor men who come to her clinic as patients and she has a professional friendship with Dr. Joe Marsham, who always seems to be there when she needs help. The man Eleanor is really close to, though, is her father. He's a widower, she is his only child, and he backs her up in whatever she sets her mind to... even when he'd rather not. They talk candidly to each other and pour a whiskey together on bad days. The only romance we have seen up to now did not involve Eleanor but her father, who was having an affair with a music-hall singer. Eleanor was furious about that. A Freudian might say she was jealous, but let's not wander down that blind alley. One problem Eleanor faces in finding romance is that she spends her days in London's worst slums. Not much chance to meet charming young men there. The question, however, is whether she really wants to, or whether the impulse for love is missing in her. Tonight that question is answered when Eleanor is called to treat the housekeeper of a handsome young neurologist.

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Bramwell, Series II
Dr. Eleanor Bramwell continues to devote her hard-won medical skills to the poor in London's East End.



Series II, Episode 1
originally broadcast 10.27.96
When Lady Cora's laundry maid is rushed to the Thrift with labor pains, nobody realizes that she will lead them into the criminal underworld and bring Eleanor's father reluctantly back to surgery. Eleanor's Victorian conservative outlook is given a jolt when she discovers Lady Cora's maid is married to a black man. Her African husband, Charlie Carter, is on the run and wants to take his family with him. Eleanor is torn between helping them and keeping on the right side of the law.



Series II, Episode 2
originally broadcast 11.03.96
Eleanor is furious when Lady Cora arranges a meeting between the Thrift and Sir Herbert Hamilton and the governors of the East London Hospital. She is outraged by their proposal to take over the Thrift and disappointed with Cora and Joe Marsham, who are enthusiastic about the idea. But the dispute between Eleanor and Lady Cora masks another crisis much closer to home.



Series II, Episode 3
originally broadcast 11.17.96
Dr. Robert Bramwell's attempts to match his daughter, Eleanor, with an old regimental friend seem doomed to failure. A belligerent boxer with a head injury proves the unlikely mechanism that brings Eleanor and Major Hyde together. But has Eleanor taken on more than she can handle?



Series II, Episode 4
originally broadcast 11.24.96
On their way to bid on an old warehouse across from the Thrift, Eleanor and her father are thrust into the pandemonium of a train crash in the new underground railroad. In the darkness, Eleanor finds Peter Mills, a flashily dressed man trapped under the debris of the disaster. Guided by her father, and in the face of Peter's protests, Eleanor has to amputate his leg below the knee.

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Bramwell, Series III
Set in upper-class Victorian London, another series following the struggles of Eleanor Bramwell as she endeavors to become one of England's first women doctors and to provide medical care for the poor.



Series III, Episode 1
originally broadcast 11.09.97
Eleanor's private practice is failing, and, encouraged by Robert, she applies for a part-time job as a dresser at the St. Jude's hospital. She is not surprised when the senior physician, Finn O'Neill, a charismatic young Irishman and epidemiology specialist, rebuffs her. Robert, however, is indignant and pulls strings to get Eleanor the job despite O'Neill's objections to a woman. Outmaneuvered by the appointments committee, he is forced to give Eleanor a trial. Eleanor is inspired by O'Neill's cutting-edge medicine and works hard to impress him. At the same time, she takes a protective interest in one of the Thrifts hopeless cases, a child prostitute, Lucy. In her enthusiasm to prove herself to O'Neill, Eleanor exploits Lucy's trust and uses her, to Robert's disgust, as the subject of a public lecture. In the end, O'Neill is so taken with Eleanor both professionally and personally that he offers her a full-time post as his registrar -- an unprecedented opportunity for a woman.

Introduction by Russell Baker
The men in Eleanor Bramwell's life have so far been a pretty grim bunch. There was a woman-hating doctor who tried to drive her out of medicine. There was a retired army man who wanted to marry her if she'd give up medicine.... There was another potential husband, a neurologist. He turned out to be secretly married. What's more, he was busy murdering his wife at the same time he was courting Eleanor. At last, another kind of man enters her life tonight. He's Dr. Finn O'Neill, and Dr. O'Neill is something new. Something very modern. He has the scientific mind. He's willing to judge her by testing what she knows and what she can do. Our Bramwell stories, you remember, began with Eleanor being fired from a teaching hospital. The surgeon who ran it didn't like women doctors -- especially if they knew more than he did. The year is 1896. Eleanor has opened a charity clinic in the London slums and is about to experience the idealism of the new scientific world -- as well as its cruelty. Bramwell, first episode.



Series III, Episode 2
originally broadcast 11.16.97
At the Bramwells', celebrations are in full swing to honor Robert's forthcoming election to the Royal College of Physicians. One of the guests is Sir William Fredericks, president of the College and an old friend, together with his rather feckless but likeable son, Martin. Robert and Eleanor are allowing Martin to shadow them at work, as medicine is his latest choice of profession. A mysterious woman arrives at the house and turns out to be Robert's estranged sister, Emily. She ran off 20 years before with a married man. She fled to India, taking with her a sizeable selection of the family jewels. Robert wants to nothing to do with her, but Eleanor tells him that he is paranoid about an old scandal no one will care about and that Emily has changed. The two women get along; Emily is fresh and fun and amused by her careerist niece. Eleanor also deals with real emotion and crisis when Dr. Marsham's 2-year-old daughter, Molly, is admitted to the Thrift with diphtheria. The experience undoes the taciturn Scot, and he confesses his passion for Eleanor in a moment of awful weakness.

Introduction by Russell Baker
The curse of many a well-known man is the inconvenient relative -- the relative he wishes he didn't have. He may love this relative too dearly to wish he had never been born. But on bad days, he wishes it anyhow. This is the relative with some all-too-human vice... a passion for alcohol... maybe a gaudy sex life or a weakness for easy money... a compulsive urge to amuse the press with jokes about his famous relative. A lot of our presidents have suffered this curse since the turn of the century. I could name a dozen or so between Teddy Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, but we're not here to gossip. The inconvenient relative is at the heart of tonight's story. Eleanor Bramwell and her father are both doctors. Eleanor runs a charity clinic in East London. Robert is a more august figure. He treats a higher class of people in London's West End. He and Eleanor make up the tiniest of nuclear families. Robert is a widower and Eleanor his only child, her mother having died in childbirth. The Bramwells' tiny family of two may seem terribly lonely at times, but it has one distinct advantage over bigger families: It can never suffer the curse of the inconvenient relative. Unless, of course, somebody has been holding back a family secret. Bramwell, episode two.



Series III, Episode 3
originally broadcast 11.30.97
An outbreak of cholera at the Thrift forces Eleanor to notify the local Medical Officer, O'Neill. To her surprise, O'Neill decides to treat the victims at the Thrift rather than cart them off to a fever hospital. With Robert's experience of cholera from his army days, he knows that there is little he can do except palliative care and that most of his patients will die. O'Neill believes that he has a cure and starts to inject all the patients with a new anti-cholera serum. Thrown together by the epidemic and his pioneer work, Eleanor and O'Neill fall in love. But when one of the patients dies not from cholera but from an arsenic compound, it appears O'Neill is experimenting blindly with the patients.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Science can be a cruel master. Eleanor Bramwell is about to discover that, and if you have been following these stories about her, you know there's no room for cruelty in Eleanor's soul. When tonight's story opens, she's turned down an important job at a big teaching hospital rather than leave her small charity clinic in East London. The hospital job was offered by Dr. Finn O'Neill, and Dr. O'Neill is all scientist. He is just as passionately devoted to science as Eleanor is to London's suffering poor. However, he is one of the few men -- except for Eleanor's father -- who treats her with respect and admiration... even affection. An earlier episode gave us hints that Dr. O'Neill and Eleanor might eventually become lovers. Both have overlooked the one important difference between them: Dr. O'Neill has a passion for science, and Eleanor has a subconscious yearning for sainthood. If their relationship is to get on, each will have to yield a little something. The conflict in their character breaks into the open tonight when a deadly epidemic starts spreading through Eleanor's clinic. Bramwell, episode three.



Series III, Episode 4
originally broadcast 12.7.97
Robert's old military comrade Guy Le Saux is back in London, accompanied by his young new Canadian wife, Kathleen, to search out six destitute children for a fresh start in North America. But as her husband lectures on the native Indians and starts his recruitment, Kathleen's health gives cause for concern and puzzles Robert as he attends to her. Eleanor's attempts to link the bruising on her arm to wife-beating, combined with her account of Guy's temper at the Thrift, fail to convince her father, adamant that gentlemen do not beat their wives. Eleanor has suggested that the late Daniel Bentley's son, Sidney, scourge of his put-upon mother, should be considered for Guy's emigration scheme. But the young lad fails to attain the right level in Guy's curious tests, estimating intellect from the children's cranial size.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Tonight we meet Guy, an old, old friend of Robert Bramwell's. He has come to London looking for a few good orphans. Guy has been living in Canada doing philanthropic work with homeless children. He's in London for two purposes: to raise money and to recruit orphaned children willing to emigrate to Canada. But not just any orphan will do. Guy wants superior children -- children who will grow up to be assets to Canada. He has a scientific theory about how to recognize superior people. He does it by measuring their skulls. Guy is traveling with a new bride, Kathleen. She is a shy, quiet, young Canadian, hardly more than a child, and she obviously adores her husband. The Bramwells -- Robert and Eleanor, father and daughter -- think Guy's theory of skull measurement is nonsense. Still, he is sophisticated and charming, and it's a pleasure to have this odd Canadian couple as houseguests. Until it slowly occurs to them that there may be something extremely odd going on in the newlyweds' relationship.

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Bramwell, Series IV
Jemma Redgrave returns as Dr. Eleanor Bramwell pursues public health and private amours, more adventures in turn-of-the-century London.


Series IV, Episode 1
originally broadcast 1.10.99
On a carnival outing, Eleanor discovers Rose, a tragically deformed woman billed as "the Biggest Brain on Earth." Eleanor offers to make her normal with a simple operation, but then the surgery goes disastrously awry.

Introduction by Russell Baker
The time is just about 100 years ago -- the 1890s. We are in a very rough neighborhood in London's East End. Here, Dr. Eleanor Bramwell runs a charity clinic for the poor. Eleanor is obviously an idealist. She's been raised in the elegant West End by a doting father, also a doctor, though his patients are a good bit richer than Eleanor's. For a woman to go into medicine in the 1890s took courage. For a woman to crusade for medical care to the poor took great courage, and this is what Eleanor has done. So much bravery and idealism might make Eleanor seem forbidding, but she has a redeeming, terribly human flaw. She is a hopeless romantic. As you'll see tonight, the romantic impulse can drive her to take terrible risks to help the patient who touches her heart. The mustachioed gentleman we see her with at the start of tonight's story is Dr. Marsham, her assistant at the clinic -- not a lover. He is married and has children. Eleanor has no love life. Several men have courted her, but she remains as virginal as the first daffodil of spring. A word about nannies: An aging nanny figures in tonight's story. English society was full of them. They are always called "Nanny." Sometimes Nanny hung on -- and on -- long after the children had outgrown her. The nanny we meet tonight left the Bramwells long ago. She's returning just for a visit.



Series IV, Episode 2
originally broadcast 1.17.99
A young woman rushed to the Thrift infirmary after an accident is discovered to be a man in drag who is romantically involved with a respected surgical equipment supplier. The tragic unfolding of their relationship opens Eleanor's eyes to a new aspect of human friendship and devotion.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Eleanor Bramwell may be a highly trained doctor, but she is a complete stranger to sex. That's as it should be. She's an Englishwoman of the 1890s. Victorian women were supposed to be ladies, and ladies were supposed to be strangers to sex. It was all nonsense, of course. But in spite of massive evidence to the contrary, we still stereotype the Victorians as paragons of sexual dullness. Actually it wasn't like that at all. Queen Victoria wanted it to be like that, so her loyal subjects did their best to create the illusion that it was like that. It was a time of make-believe. One who refused to play make-believe was the Queen's own son, Edward the Prince of Wales. Edward was famous for his adulteries with the most glamorous women in Europe. The British loved him for it. Many followed his example. Sex of every variety was in the closet, but none of it was closeted as deeply as homosexual love. British society insisted that it could occur only among perverted and godless sinners. And those who were caught out of the closet paid a terrible price. The most celebrated case involved Oscar Wilde's affair with the son of the Marquess of Queensbury. Wilde was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for two years under brutal conditions. Eleanor Bramwell, we are about to discover, is no more enlightened about the many forms of love than a Victorian lady is supposed to be.



Series IV, Episode 3
originally broadcast 1.31.99
Masquerading as cousins, Eleanor and her colleague Finn O'Neill rendezvous at a seaside hotel. When Eleanor's father discovers the love affair, he declares his daughter a ruined woman and banishes her from the family home.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Tonight we leave Dr. Eleanor Bramwell's grim charity clinic for a holiday by the sea -- and, for Eleanor, a rare adventure in love. There hasn't been much love in Eleanor's life. She's too devoted to working with the poor in her clinic. You may recall that at one time she was ready to marry an army officer, but balked at the last minute. She discovered she loved medicine too much to give it up for duty as a society wife. If you are a loyal follower of our Bramwell stories you may remember Dr. Finn O'Neill. He was the brilliant medical researcher who, several episodes back, began by admiring Eleanor as a scientist, then noticed that she was also a very desirable woman. It looked as if romance might come of it. Then the two were caught up dealing with a cholera epidemic, and there was a devastating quarrel about the ethics of testing experimental cures on desperately sick patients. That looked like the end of any possible love affair. It wasn't. Tonight Dr. O'Neill reenters Eleanor's life. O'Neill is still the same brilliant Irish charmer we met a year or two ago during the cholera epidemic. Not everyone, however, is as charmed as Eleanor.



Series IV, Episode 4
originally broadcast 2.7.99
Man and boy are injured in brewery mishap. Eleanor gets a letter from America, but before she has a chance to open it, Finn O'Neill shows up. After they make love at a hotel, he tells her that there's a young girl in Chicago waiting for him. Eleanor explodes. In the meantime, Eleanor's father begins an affection with the owner of the brewery. Finn and Eleanor make up as Finn goes off to Paris, vowing engagement.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Most of our Bramwell stories deal with problems created by Victorian social codes. Tonight's story focuses on what was called Social Darwinism. One of the most important events in modern history began unfolding in the 1850s. Charles Darwin began publishing his works on biological evolution. The impact on religion was shattering. Though Darwin himself was a religious man, his work effectively denied the biblical story of creation. Darwin's theory portrayed biological life as an endless struggle for survival among species. The Victorians quickly adapted this biological idea to suit their social needs, especially their need to justify an economic system in which so many could be so poor in the midst of so much wealth. So they took Darwin's biological theory and said, "Look here, human society works on the same principle." The law of "Survival of the Fittest," they said, was just as true in economics as it was in biology. Out of Darwin's biology came the harsh economic theory called "Social Darwinism." If you were at the bottom of the heap it wasn't because there was anything wrong with the system. It was because you didn't have the strength to rise to the top. In tonight's story, we meet the well-to-do owner of a brewery and two of the not-so-well-to-do men who work there. The brewery owner is a lady, and charming, and quite content with a world where Social Darwinism rules.



Series IV, Episode 5
originally broadcast 2.14.99
Robert Bramwell goes to the country estate of the brewery heiress. Finn comes back from Paris, demoralized by the low turnout to his lectures. He and Eleanor spend the night together. Robert Bramwell and Aubrey Savier are having a dueling courtship with Mrs. Costogon (brewery matron). Class and medical warfare ensue when an infant in Costogon's care gets sick and Savier's nonsurgical method seems to win the day, as well as her heart. Eventually, though, Bramwell's surgery is proved the only effective way to keep the baby from dying. Back at the Thrift, Marsham announces he's leaving; Eleanor retorts that she's engaged.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Our Bramwell stories are set in the 1890s, the glorious final decade of the Victorian age. It's a time when class distinctions are almost comically important. It often seems that every proper Englishman is looking for someone to look down on. The London medical establishment won't have Dr. Marsham on a hospital staff because he's a Scot. When Dr. Finn O'Neill presents his research at scientific conferences, English doctors stay away in droves. Dr. O'Neill is Irish. Even among the gentry of purest English strain, there is a pecking order. For example: The most socially correct place for a doctor to have offices is in Harley Street. Dr. Robert Bramwell, Eleanor's father, does not have offices in Harley Street. Therefore, as we'll see tonight, colleagues who do have offices in Harley Street feel entitled to treat him with contempt. Robert is at the center of tonight's story. He is about to go visiting in very elegant company -- that is to say, among people who spend the day shooting birds by the dozen and looking down on people like Robert.



Series IV, Episode 6
originally broadcast 2.21.99
We meet Marsham's wife at a celebratory dinner hosted by the Bramwells. They are toasting Marsham's new position in Edinburgh. We discover that Mrs. Marsham is sick with breast cancer. After seeing a specialist recommended by Bramwell, its determined that she's going to die; the cancer has spread too far. However, Marsham throws a fit and accuses everyone of classism; the Bramwells offer to perform surgery. They do, but she dies shortly thereafter. Marsham elects to stay on at the Thrift. Also, Kate, the housemaid, has a sweetheart who keeps tempting fate by stealing kisses when no one is around. He finally brings over a pornographic zeotrope.

Introduction by Russell Baker
We finally get to know Dr. Marsham tonight. He's been there in Eleanor Bramwell's charity clinic for three or four years, quietly helping her make a success of it. But we've never had a chance to learn what makes him tick. He is steady in times of crisis. He's levelheaded and cautious when Eleanor becomes dangerously adventurous. We know he's a Scot, and went to medical school in Glasgow. We know he is a wonderful anesthetist. We know he was unable to get a hospital position in London because of prejudice against Scottish doctors. In one episode, we saw him make an awkward declaration of love to Eleanor, but it seemed to embarrass both of them. As well it should have, since Dr. Marsham already has a wife and children. In the last episode, Dr. Marsham notified Eleanor that he has been offered a good hospital position in Scotland, and means to take it. Eleanor's clinic provides him with very little income, and his wife and children deserve a better life. In the new position he'll be able to provide his family the comforts they have been denied. Eleanor hates losing him but has finally conceded that she must. A farewell dinner is being held at the Bramwell house. Mr. Marsham and his wife are the guests of honor.

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Bramwell, Series V
Bramwell is back with four new episodes in the lovelorn life of Dr. Eleanor Bramwell, the public health heroine of 1890s London and her society doctor dad, Dr. Robert Bramwell. Eleanor's treacherous fiancé, Dr. Finn O'Neill, is also back--briefly--along with the stalwart gang at the Thrift Free Infirmary for the Deserving Poor.



Series V, Episode 1
originally broadcast 1.9.2000
Amid celebrations for Queen Victoria's 60th jubilee, Eleanor learns her fiancé, Finn O'Neill, has secretly married another woman. Eleanor confronts her rival at a costume ball and makes a scene. Meanwhile, a battered wife recovering at the Thrift faces her abusive husband when he checks in for treatment. She takes justice into her own hands.

Introduction by Russell Baker
In 1897 the British Empire threw one of the greatest parties of all time -- the Diamond Jubilee, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria. No English monarch had ever ruled so long, but the Jubilee also celebrated the Empire itself, which then stood at the very peak of its glory. Under Victoria, it had become the empire on which the sun never set, and though the British didn't actually rule the world, it sometimes seemed that they could if they wanted to. So the country was in the mood for a party, and the old Queen's anniversary provided a good reason to cut loose, pop the champagne cork, and dance till dawn. For Dr. Eleanor Bramwell, there's an even more special reason to celebrate. She is about to be married. Her fiancé is Dr. Finn O'Neill. We have met him in several earlier chapters of the Bramwell story -- a brilliant medical researcher, and seductively charming to boot. In fact, he and Eleanor had already become lovers before their engagement. Dr. O'Neill has been in America working on a research project and is about to arrive back in London. If the British Empire was supreme in Eleanor Bramwell's time, it had not reached perfection. Tonight's story glances into the shadows behind the gaiety of the Jubilee, and shows us an England grappling with a terrible form of brutality that is just as common today as it was in Queen Victoria's time.



Series V, Episode 2
originally broadcast 1.16.2000
While Eleanor is away mending her broken heart, life at the Thrift goes on -- except that Nurse Carr is anxious about her deranged mother. The desperate nurse takes to stealing opium to sedate the old woman, who is literally tied up at home. When the loss is discovered, Sidney gets blamed and fired.

Introduction by Russell Baker
There has been a terrible crisis in Eleanor Bramwell's life. Finn O'Neill, the man she was engaged to marry, has come back from America, and brought a new wife with him. Not surprisingly, Eleanor is shocked. She'd had no letter from O'Neill, nothing at all -- not the slightest hint that there was another woman in his life, much less a wife. Her shock turns into rage, and she accuses him of ruining her life. Her rage becomes a towering, reckless fury, and when O'Neill brings his new wife to a great society ball -- a ball he knows Eleanor will attend -- Eleanor confronts the bride. She throws a magnificent scene, openly declaring for all London to hear that she and O'Neill had been lovers, and that he has betrayed her. She then renounces her old life. From now on, she says, she is going to look out for herself and quit trying to play savior of poor suffering humanity -- and close down her charity clinic in London's East End. As our story resumes tonight, the clinic is still not closed, but its small staff is having a terrible struggle trying to make do without her. Eleanor's father, Robert, is taking a hand, apparently thinking that Eleanor may change her mind and come back. But the most troubled member of a very troubled staff is, surprisingly, the usually calm and authoritative Nurse Carr.



Series V, Episode 3
originally broadcast 1.23.2000
Eleanor is on R&R at the estate of her old friend from medical school, Isobel, and her philandering husband, Charles. Isobel tries to fix Eleanor up with an eligible attorney, but Charles has other ideas. Meanwhile, a measles epidemic breaks out at the local school, and Eleanor takes charge from the resentful, punitive schoolmaster.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Until now, Eleanor Bramwell has been the model of saintly devotion to her charity clinic for the poor people of London's East End. When we see her tonight, though, she has renounced good works and abandoned her clinic, after telling everybody she was going to shut it down. And she's announced that she's going to stop worrying so much about the poor and start worrying about herself for a change. Why this startling change in Eleanor's character? Well, to put it baldly, because she has been left at the altar by her fiancé, Dr. Finn O'Neill. You'll see him tonight in a few flashbacks. O'Neill is a brilliant scientist, but a cavalier spirit, as Eleanor learns when he comes back from America and tells her he's terribly sorry, but he won't be able to marry her after all, since he has just married an American woman. Understandably, Eleanor does not take it well. As tonight's episode begins, she has left London and gone to the country and is the houseguest of an old school friend. She seems to have settled in for a long stay. Houseguests did that in the Victorian age. Being a houseguest -- even today when visits tend to be brief -- is an art not easy to master. The perfect houseguest is one who can not only slip into the life of another family without making a ripple, but can also become a pleasure to have around the house. The perfect houseguest does not spread gloom through the house, or refuse to come to dinner on time, or interfere in the lives of the hired help... or go into town and bully the population.



Series V, Episode 4
originally broadcast 1.30.2000
Robert has borrowed to the hilt to finance a fancy office with London's most fashionable physicians. Moreover, he is about to fulfill his dream of marrying Alice Costigan. But then his banker's hypochondriacal wife, who is also Robert's patient, confesses her love for him and comes armed to her next office visit.

Introduction by Russell Baker
Once upon a time in London, there were certain streets that seemed to be reserved for specific businesses and professions. Savile Row meant tailoring, Bond Street meant top-of-the-line shops, Chancery Lane meant the law, and Fleet Street meant journalism. For doctors, there was Harley Street. People looking for the best in medicine sought out doctors whose offices were located there. It didn't always follow that a Harley Street address guaranteed the best in medicine, but even if the doctor was sometimes second-rate, the social cachet was so good that the best people were willing to pay the price. Eleanor Bramwell's father, Robert, has for years kept his office in his home, but as tonight's story opens, he is about to move himself up the social ladder and his practice into Harley Street. Eleanor has always worked at the other end of the social scale, operating a threadbare little charity clinic in London's East End. She'd threatened to close it and give up medicine altogether after her fiancé walked out on her, but though she's still depressed and thinks her life has been a failure, she's now back at work in the clinic. Eleanor may be melancholy, but Robert is not. In fact, he has every reason to be happy. And the move to Harley Street is only part of it. He's also in love with the widowed Alice Costigan, and she obviously enjoys his company. The problem is that Mrs. Costigan is not the only woman fond of Robert's company.

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Bramwell Retrospective | So Whose Daughter Are You?
A Redgrave Family Tree | Bramwell VI/Ep. Summaries
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