If you missed the latest adaptation of E.M. Forester’s masterful Howards End when it aired in the UK in 2017 or on Starz in the US in 2018, you now have your chance on PBS Masterpiece in 2020. The gorgeous four-part miniseries stars Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel, the older sister (and de facto matriarch) of a progressive and independent family living in early 20th century London. Margaret and her siblings are on the forefront of changing social mores, sometimes controversially so, and it defines her relationship with an older, wealthy widower, Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen), whose conservative values clash with hers. The story feels timely in many ways, although the genuine curiosity and politeness with with which these issues are broached can seem lamentably foreign.
The series, stunningly directed by Hettie MacDonald and wonderfully adapted by Kenneth Lonergan, is an atypical and refreshing period piece. Before it aired on Starz in 2018, our own Keri Lumm spoke with Philippa Coulthard, who plays Margaret’s younger, headstrong sister Helen Schlegel. Helen’s story is key in so many ways, not only in how she pushes the family forward in terms of their philanthropy, but also in the way the consequences of some of her actions shape her family’s future prospects.
You can watch the full interview below, and be sure to catch Howards End on PBS Masterpiece starting Sunday, January 12th:
Here’s the full synopsis for Howards End:
Often considered E.M. Forster’s masterpiece, Howards End is the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world.
Academy Award winning screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan brings a fresh take to this adaptation. Margaret Schlegel (Hayley Atwell, Captain America: The First Avenger) is an intelligent, idealistic young woman who is courted by the older Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen, Succession), a self-made conservative businessman, after his wife Ruth Wilcox (Julia Ormond) dies unexpectedly and he becomes owner of Howards End.
Meanwhile Margaret’s passionate and capricious younger sister Helen Schlegel (Philippa Coulthard) takes up the cause of Leonard Bast (Joseph Quinn), a young bank clerk who falls on hard times at work and at home with his partner Jacky (Rosalind Eleazar). In the absence of their late parents, the sisters’ loving but interfering Aunt Juley (Tracey Ullman) tries to keep the young ladies and their brother Tibby (Alex Lawther) on the straight and narrow.
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