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The Pallisers is a 1974 BBC television adaptation of Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels. Set in Victorian era England with a backdrop of parliamentary life, Simon Raven's dramatisation covers six of Anthony Trollope's novels and follows the events of the characters over two decades.[1]

The Pallisers
Series title over a painting of a Peacock and series characters
Genre Costume drama
Based on Novels by Anthony Trollope
Written by Simon Raven
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 26
Producer(s) Martin Lisemore
Running time 50 minutes
Original network BBC Two
Original release 19 January (1974-01-19) – 21 November 1974 (1974-11-21)

The series featured a huge cast of prominent and rising actors.



The series begins with the story of Lady Glencora (Susan Hampshire), fiancée of the dry, aristocratic Plantagenet Palliser (Philip Latham) who will inherit the title of the Duke of Omnium and Gatherum from his uncle (Roland Culver). Although they marry, Lady Glencora still pines for her unsuitable but handsome admirer Burgo Fitzgerald (Barry Justice).

Palliser becomes aware of this situation and takes his wife on a long tour of Europe, even though he had recently been offered the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, the one political position he craves. While on their grand tour, the newlyweds come to a better understanding, and upon their return to London Glencora becomes an ambitious society hostess.

Whilst Plantagenet succeeds in his political aspirations, Irish barrister Phineas Finn (Donal McCann) is elected to Parliament for the family seat of Loughshane. In London, Finn rises quickly in high society and falls in love with Lady Laura Standish (Anna Massey) who is struggling to maintain her lifestyle after paying off the debts of her brother, Lord Chiltern (John Hallam).

Lady Laura marries Robert Kennedy (Derek Godfrey), a wealthy Scottish MP and Finn is forced to resign after a defeat on the Irish Tenant Right. Lady Laura's marriage collapses and she moves to Germany. Finn spends Christmas with Lady Laura only to be accused of adultery by Kennedy. Finn is later arrested for murder but the Pallisers finance his defence.

Episode synopsis[2][3]Edit

1 to 6Edit

Alice Vavasor cannot decide which man she loves; Glencora's love for Burgo Fitzgerald and her marriage to Plantagenet Palliser.

7 to 12Edit

The start of Phineas Finn's political career and love for Lady Laura Kennedy, then Violet Effingham. The Duke of Omnium courts Madame Max Goesler.

13 to 19Edit

The Eustace Diamonds disappear and Lizzie Eustace is embroiled in a society scandal. The Duke of Omnium dies and Plantagenet and Lady Glencora inherit the title. Phineas Finn is accused of murder and Madame Max arrives in Prague to find evidence to prove his innocence.

20 to 26Edit

Plantagenet Palliser becomes Prime Minister. Lady Glencora becomes a society hostess. It concludes with the death of Glencora, and the story of the marriages of the children.

Cast (partial)Edit


DVD releaseEdit

All episodes of The Pallisers are available on DVD in Australia, the United Kingdom and North America.


Reviewing the series for the 2016 rebroadcast, Gerald O'Donovan wrote, "In a world where BBC drama tends to be commissioned in taste-testing dribs and drabs of three or six episodes the mere fact that this is a 26-parter seems to imbue The Pallisers with a relaxed, witty confidence that’s hard to find in TV drama now... The Pallisers, for all its pleasures, is a bauble left over from more extravagant TV times."[4] Neil Clark writing for The Guardian wrote, "The Pallisers stands as a reminder of how satisfying television drama can be when writers, producers and directors concentrate on emotion instead of editing, and don’t underestimate their audience."[5]


Production stretched over 13 months and the series was transmitted at the height of industrial strikes, marked by Three-Day Weeks and power shortages at the start of the year. A sudden general election called for February 1974 resulted in the postponement of the series as it dealt with political storylines heavily featuring The Liberal Party, albeit completely fictional. The series resumed, but a second general election in October 1974 caused further transmission challenges. All this contributed to scheduling difficulties and though the series was meant to have finished in June, the final two episodes didn't go out until November (because of strikes at the BBC).[6]

The entire series was shown again on the BBC in 2016.[5]


  1. ^ The Pallisers (1974) at Television Heaven, Accessed 5 February 2018
  2. ^ Anthony Trollope: TV and Radio: The Pallisers Archived 6 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ 'The Pallisers' at, Accessed 5 February 2018
  4. ^ O'Donovan, Gerald (5 May 2015). "Why can't we make drama like The Pallisers anymore?". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Clark, Neil (27 January 2016). "Forget War and Peace – 1970s costume drama The Pallisers is the thing to watch". The Guardian. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  6. ^ Pallisers, The (1974) at BFI Screenonline, Accessed 5 February 2018

External linksEdit