Death Comes to Pemberley (TV series)

Death Comes to Pemberley is a three-part British television drama based on the best-selling 2011 P.D. James novel of the same name. Her murder mystery was based on the style and characters of Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.

Death Comes to Pemberley
Series tile over an image of the house
First episode titles
Based onDeath Comes to Pemberley novel by P. D. James
Written byJuliette Towhidi P. D. James (Novel)
Directed byDaniel Percival
Composer(s)The Insects
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
Executive producer(s)
  • Ed Rubin
  • Joanie Blaikie
  • P.D. James
  • Justin Thomson-Glover (Far Moor)
  • Patrick Irwin (Far Moor)
  • Rebecca Eaton (Masterpiece)
  • Polly Hill (BBC)
Production location(s)
CinematographySteve Lawes
Running time60 minutes (each episode)
Production company(s)Origin Pictures, Masterpiece co-production
Original networkBBC One
Picture format16:9 1080i
Audio formatStereo
Original release26 December (2013-12-26) –
28 December 2013 (2013-12-28)
External links
BBC site Death Comes to Pemberley

The series was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson and then-Controller of BBC One Danny Cohen,[1] and was first broadcast from 26–28 December 2013 on BBC One.[2][3]


It is June 1803, six years after the marriage of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, as recounted in Pride and Prejudice. One evening, George Wickham and his wife Lydia (Elizabeth's sister) are travelling by carriage to Pemberly for a ball with Captain Denny. Wickham and Denny have an argument, and leave the carriage in anger. The two men disappear into the woodland, where Lydia hears two gunshots. After being informed, Darcy sends out a search party, who find Wickham distraught and hysterical, holding Denny's body and blaming himself for his murder.




The cast was announced on 18 June 2013. The series was cast by Gary Davy. Actor Tom Ward, who plays Colonel Fitzwilliam, is the only cast member to have previously played a role in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He played Lt Chamberlayne in the 1995 BBC adaptation.


Filming began in June 2013 on location in Yorkshire and Derbyshire and has been supported with investment from Screen Yorkshire. Chatsworth House in Derbyshire was used as the exterior of Pemberley, and rooms at Chatsworth and at Castle Howard and Harewood House, both in Yorkshire, were used for indoor scenes.[4] Areas of National Trust land, including Hardcastle Crags, Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal estate and Treasurer's House, were also used in filming. Beverley's Guildhall provided the location for a courtroom.[5] The gallows scenes were filmed on a purpose-built scaffold outside York Crown Court, with Wickham emerging from the gate to the old debtors' prison in the York Museum.


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [6]
1"Episode One"Daniel PercivalJuliette Towhidi26 December 2013 (2013-12-26)7.81
Elizabeth Darcy and her husband of 6 years are in the midst of preparing for a ball. She finds time to make a charity visit Mrs Bidwell, a tenant who lives in an isolated cottage on the estate with her daughter Louisa (a maid at Pemberley) with her new-born baby and her son Will who is terminally ill and confined to his room. Mr Bidwell is away. Pemberley welcomes Elizabeth's parents and Mr. Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. They do not invite two family members: Elizabeth's sister Lydia and her ne'er-do-well husband George Wickham [because of his attempt to seduce and ruin Georgiana, explained in Jane Austen's novel 'Pride and Prejudice']. Georgiana is pursued in marriage by her cousin Fitzwilliam, but Lizzie knows she is in love with Alveston. An hysterical Lydia arrives at Pemberley late that same night saying that Wickham had argued with his friend Captain Denny who ordered the coach stopped and ran into the woods with Wickham running after him. She soon heard two shots leading her to order the coach to Pemberley at full speed. A search party soon finds Denny dead and Wickham bloodied and semi-conscious. Darcy contacts the local magistrate, Sir Selwyn Hardcastle, who investigates and quickly arrests Wickham for murder.
2"Episode Two"Daniel PercivalJuliette Towhidi27 December 2013 (2013-12-27)6.00
Wickham is visited in jail by Fitzwilliam, who has his own reason for keeping quiet, although Fitzwilliam has an alibi for the murder as he was publicly seen in the company of the widow of one of his soldiers. Elizabeth assures the staff that they have nothing to fear—while cancelling the ball—but is intrigued by fragments of a torn letter whose writer sought to meet Darcy in the woods. She tells Hardcastle that she saw the woman believed to be the ghost in the woods but was certain she was mortal. Later, she comes upon a grave in the woods and is told it belongs to the Darcys' great-grandfather, a reckless gambler who almost lost Pemberley. Lizzie and Darcy quarrel because Darcy supports Fitzwilliam’s suit while Lizzie believes Georgiana should be allowed to make her own choice uninfluenced by Darcy’s opinion. Though Georgiana turns down Alveston's marriage proposal, the young lawyer supports Darcy at the inquest, whose jury finds Wickham guilty of murder and sends him to the Assizes to stand trial for murder. Expecting to be acquitted, Wickham gets Darcy to agree to fund his and Lydia's departure to the New World. Meanwhile Elizabeth learns that Louisa was seduced by a soldier and bore his child, and at Louisa's request enquires of the man's stated regiment. She learns that the soldier was Wickham, who used a false name to seduce Louisa. The baby is his. Elizabeth contrives to bring Louisa into court where she recognises Wickham and cries out to him in front of everyone including Hardcastle.
3"Episode Three"Daniel PercivalJuliette Towhidi28 December 2013 (2013-12-28)6.05
In jail awaiting trial, Wickham admits to Darcy that he is the father of Louisa Bidwell's child. Louisa tells Elizabeth that on the morning of the murder she had met Captain Denny and a woman—the same woman Elizabeth and some of the housemaids had seen in the woods—who would adopt the baby. (The woman turns out to be Mrs Younge, Wickham's sister, who years before had lured Georgiana to Wickham.) Louisa changed her mind at the last moment, however. She also saw Colonel Fitzwilliam at the abbey that morning. Sir Selwyn Hardcastle becomes aware that Wickham is the father of Louisa Bidwell's child - it could be the clinching motive for the murder. Darcy discovers that Fitzwilliam had engineered the adoption, taking it upon himself to act for Darcy. Fitzwilliam falls out of favour and gives up Georgiana, freeing her to accept her true love, Alveston. At the trial, the bloodsoaked stone found near the crime scene is not admitted as evidence as its role cannot be interpreted. Pub landlady Mrs Piggott testifies to witnessing Wickham arguing with Denny. Hardcastle stays silent about Louisa Bidwell. Based on his self-incriminating confession at the scene of the crime and Mrs Piggott's account, Wickham is found guilty and sentenced to hang. Distraught, Mrs Younge rushes from the court room and is accidentally killed under a horse and carriage. Darcy stays near Wickham to support him in the day he has left before he is hanged. Rev. Oliphant tells Elizabeth that Will Bidwell's illness will kill him in a day or so. Oddly both of them have been kept away from him "ever since the murder" so they both visit Mr and Mrs Bidwell, where Will makes a deathbed signed confession: the uniformed Denny came to the cottage looking for Louisa but Will mistook him for the soldier who'd stolen Louisa's virtue. He hit Denny with his stick, chased the injured man, tried to warn him about a gully but Denny fell and hit his head on a large stone, Wickham arrived, found Denny dying, saw Will and fired Denny's gun at him, so Will fled. Mr Bidwell takes Elizabeth to see the judge who reprieves Wickham. Lydia and Wickham set off for the New World. Alveston proposes marriage to Georgiana and she accepts. Darcy tells Elizabeth that Louisa does not have to give up her child as had been previously arranged. Elizabeth reveals to a delighted Darcy that she is pregnant.


The Guardian described the tone of the first episode as respectful of Austen's original, but "not afraid to stand out and be its own very different thing as well", describing it as a "mashup" between period drama and Agatha Christie or Midsomer Murders.[7] A later Guardian review described the series as "pretty much perfect Christmas TV", praising the appearance of the series and the "satisfying plot".[8] Lina Talbot, writing for The Independent, praised the casting of Mr and Mrs Bennet.[9] The Radio Times praised the production values of the piece, and noted that they were supported by a "meaty" plot.[10]


  1. ^ BBC media centre. Retrieved 26 December 2013
  2. ^ Susanna Lazarus. Death Comes to Pemberley's Matthew Rhys: "The best thing about playing Mr Darcy is that shirt" RadioTimes. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Jenna Coleman to Star in Death Comes To Pemberley". Doctor Who. BBC. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Death comes to Pemberley; behind the scenes". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Death comes to Pemberley on BBC1". Hull Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  6. ^ "BARB weekly top 30 programmes". BARB. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^

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