Doctor Who writer Peter Harness (‘Kill the Moon’) has adapted Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for BBC One.
Set at the beginning of the 19th century, England no longer believes in practical magic, until the reclusive Mr Norrell vows to prove himself England’s greatest magician.
The epic seven-part series stars Bertie Carvel (Restless, Matilda) and Eddie Marsan (Filth) in the lead roles of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, alongside Marc Warren (Mad Dogs), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures), Samuel West (Mr Selfridge), Charlotte Riley (Easy Virtue), Enzo Cilenti (Rome) and Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones).
Episode 1: ‘The Friends of English Magic’
Sunday 17 May 2015, 9pm
1806. Magic once existed in England, but it has long faded – that is until the reclusive Mr Norrell is discovered in Yorkshire.
He comes to London to offer the government his services as a magician – but rising politician Sir Walter Pole refuses to align himself with such a disrespectable art as magic. Disconsolate at his lack of success, Mr Norrell is set to return home, until news comes of the death of Sir Walter’s sickly, and wealthy, fiancée.
Mr Norrell makes a dangerous pact with a mysterious Gentleman to restore her to life, proving magic respectable and establishing himself as the greatest magician in the land.
Meanwhile, the charming and dissolute Jonathan Strange, more interested in drinking wine and winning the hand of the beautiful Arabella than reading dusty magical books, discovers that he too has magical powers.
Episode 2: ‘How is Lady Pole?’
Sunday 24 May 2015, 9pm
Mr Norrell’s magical illusions baffle the French Navy and win him the loyalty of Sir Walter Pole, but the magic he performed to revive Lady Pole has released something unnatural into Sir Walter’s home – a mysterious unseen Gentleman with thistledown hair.
Jonathan Strange’s magical ability grows, and he comes to London take up an apprenticeship with Mr Norrell. But Norrell is reluctant to share his knowledge and refuses to teach Strange the ancient magic of the legendary Raven King.
Later the two magicians are called to rescue a stricken ship; meanwhile the Gentlemen has appeared to, and enchanted, Sir Walter’s impressive butler. Each night Stephen Black is drawn to an attic door that leads him to the mansion of Lost-hope, where he discovers Lady Pole trapped in an endless waltz.
Episode 3: ‘The Education Of A Magician’
Sunday 31 May 2015, 9pm
Jonathan Strange arrives in Spain, only to find that Lord Wellington has no interest in making use of him – until he summons ancient and troubling magic to fight the Napoleonic armies. Mr Norrell, meanwhile, is back in England battling to keep his secrets hidden.
Arabella Strange discovers that the recently resurrected Lady Pole has become dangerously unhinged, but her letters to her husband about this are being intercepted by Mr Norrell.
The mysterious Gentleman with thistledown hair enrols Sir Walter’s servant Stephen to help him bewitch Arabella, and tells him of a prophecy that says Stephen will be a King.
Episode 4: ‘All the Mirrors of the World’
Sunday 7 June 2015, 9pm
Returning from war, Jonathan Strange joins Mr Norrell in a bid to help King George III. But Strange is frustrated at Norrell’s refusal to discuss the legends of the Raven King.
Strange narrowly manages to save King George from being stolen away and killed by the Gentleman, who swears revenge against the magician.
When Strange finds that Norrell’s aide Drawlight has been selling magical secrets, he also discovers magical roads behind all mirrors – proving the existence of the Raven King. But his determination to explore these new lands distresses his wife Arabella.
Strange sees that Norrell will always obstruct his investigation of ancient magic, and decides to break with him and retire to the countryside with Arabella to write a book of his own. With Stephen’s help, The Gentleman creates a ghoulish magical replacement for Arabella.
Episode 5: ‘Arabella’
Sunday 14 June 2015, 9pm
Jonathan Strange’s remarkable magic has helped England win the Battle of Waterloo, and he returns to England to write a book, much to Norrell’s displeasure. But his life is destroyed when Arabella seemingly dies and no magic can restore her to life.
Strange finishes his book in tribute to her, but learns that Norrell is intent on destroying it. Furious, Strange confronts Norrell, but is arrested. He uses his magic to escape from jail, determined to access the madness that will allow him to see the fairy world.
Episode 6: ‘The Black Tower’
Sunday 21 June 2015, 9pm
Jonathan Strange discovers the essence of madness – which allows him to perceive far away magical lands – and summons the Gentleman.
He follows the Gentleman into the magical lands and his world is shaken by what he learns. Meanwhile Norrell destroys Strange’s book, but his act undermines magic’s respectability and the government breaks with him.
Sir Walter’s servant Stephen travels with Vinculus, a crazy street magician who mutters of a prophecy and promises to free him from the Gentleman.
Episode 7: ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’
Sunday 28 June 2015, 9pm
England is in chaos as magic returns.
As Mr Norrell takes shelter in his library Strange confronts him, determined to defeat the Gentleman and free Arabella before the Faerie curse kills him.
Meanwhile, Childermass attempts to undo the magic that keeps Lady Pole under the Gentleman’s power, and Stephen is drawn ever deeper into the Gentleman’s web, becoming embroiled in a maelstrom of spells and curses. What hope is there for the Magicians now?
Watch the trailer…
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