North & South Review (BBC)

North & South is a drama slash romance mini series that aired on BBC. This social commentary shows the in depth struggles of the English people working in the cotton mills, no money for medical care, and barely enough money for food. 

The Hale family decided to leave their countryside estate located in Southern England to the industrial town of Milton, Darkshire. The family was not prepared for the harsh living environment of Northern England. Richard Hale, (Tim Pigott-Smith), a former clergyman and gentle soul, decided to change his career path to become a private tutor after the relocation. Richard’s wife, Maria Hale (Lesley Manville) was a very proper, respectable lady that was physically weak and unable to tolerate the polluted, cacophonous city environment.

Richard’s and Maria’s daughter, Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) was also shocked with how the people lived and survived in Milton. She, unlike her mother was not willing to stay locked up in her room or to keep her opinions of the mistreatment that the mill workers endured daily, to herself. She is independent, outspoken, and willing to do whatever she can to help the mill workers. 

Richard’s first student, John Thornton (Richard Armitage), just happened to be the owner of the Marlborough Mills. Of course, Margaret was not aware of this until she witnessed Thornton beating one of his employees for smoking in the factory. She automatically intervened but she didn’t realize the dangers of smoking and potential fire hazards. It would be disastrous for Thornton, his family, all the employees, and their families if a fire broke out inside of the mill. 

Margaret befriended Bessy Higgins (Anna Maxwell-Martin), a mill worker that had developed pneumoconiosis from the polluted working environment inside the Hamper’s Mill, which she worked at prior to Marlborough. Margaret attempted to do some charity work but none of the locals took her serious and most never trusted her motives.

John and Margaret had an instant attraction to each other but neither was so willing to admit it. Margaret actually detested John because of his ill treatment of his employees but again she did not realize how difficult it was for John to keep the mill running, paying employee wages, and providing for his family. John began to feel a deeper love and respect for her when she stepped in to defend him from a group of disgruntled employees.

Margaret’s parents passed away and she is left in the hands of her father’s best friend, Mr. Bell (Brian Protheroe), whom later died and left Margaret a large inheritance. She decided to take her money back to Milton and help improve the working environment inside the mill.

You must watch this enthralling television series to find out how the tempestuous, love relationship between Margaret and John develops. This is a must see, gripping drama that will keep you focused and hoping that Margaret and John relationship develops into a life long love affair.

Review

North & South (BBC) is a very strong and compelling drama series that shows the real life struggles of historic England involving the cotton mills and workers attempting to fight for their rights. The four, fifty minute episodes really delivered a compelling conclusion. The show uses a romantic formula that drives the story, which kept me yearning for more. It is possibly one of the best British mini-series of all time. Mockie gives it nine stars.

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