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15 Minute Drama, Shirley Episode 1 of 10

Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, dramatises Charlotte Bronte's tale of romantic entanglements and turbulent times in the Yorkshire of 1811.

"Something unromantic as a Monday morning." And so begins this passionate love story ...

Directed by Tracey Neale

Set against a Yorkshire industrial background, Charlotte Bronte's powerful second novel is also an impassioned plea for social equality - for workers and women alike. Set during the time of the Luddite unrest, two strands weave together. One, the struggles of workers against mill owners, the other involving the romantic entanglements of the two heroines - Shirley Keelder and Caroline Helstone. It is the friendship of these two women, and the contrast between their situations, that lies at the heart of the piece. Many believe the character of Shirley was written for, and about, Charlotte's sister, Emily, who was dying as Charlotte wrote the novel.

Like The Professor, Villette and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, produced by the same team, this is an earthy, vivid and poignant re-telling of one of the lesser-known Bronte classics. The scenes of dangerous social unrest and conflict and love are as relevant today as when the novel was published. It's a story of friendship and love, longing and loss. A rollicking good story with plenty of cliffhangers to keep the listener hooked to the very end.

The cast includes Lesley Sharp (Scott and Bailey) Jemima Rooper (Atlantis) and Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey)

The dramatist Rachel Joyce has written over twenty original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4 and major adaptations for the Classic Serial and Fifteen Minute Drama, as well as a TV period drama for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Play.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was her first novel. It began its life as a Radio 4 play. It was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2012 and longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. Her second novel, Perfect, was published last year. She is currently writing a novella called The Love-Song of Queenie Hennessy which will be published in the Autumn. Rachel is also adapting the novella as a 5-part Fifteen Minute Drama to be broadcast at the same time as publication. Queenie is a character from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Mon 10 Mar 2014 19:45


Role Contributor
Charlotte BronteLesley Sharp
ShirleyJemima Rooper
CarolineJoanne Froggatt
Robert MooreJoseph Kloska
Louis MooreJoel MacCormack
Mrs PryorChristine Kavanagh
HelstoneSean Murray
Hortense MoorePriyanga Burford
Mr SympsonDavid Seddon
DirectorTracey Neale
AdaptorRachel Joyce
AuthorCharlotte Bronte

4 Stories

4 Stories

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