Daniel Deronda (TV series)

Daniel Deronda is a British television serial drama adapted by Andrew Davies from the 1876 George Eliot novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Hooper, produced by Louis Marks, and was first broadcast in three parts on BBC One from 23 November to 7 December 2002. The serial starred Hugh Dancy as Daniel Deronda, Romola Garai as Gwendolen Harleth, Hugh Bonneville as Henleigh Grandcourt, and Jodhi May as Mirah Lapidoth. Co-production funding came from WGBH Boston.

Daniel Deronda
Daniel Deronda (TV serial).jpg
Based onDaniel Deronda by George Eliot
Screenplay byAndrew Davies
Directed byTom Hooper
StarringHugh Dancy
Romola Garai
Hugh Bonneville
Jodhi May
Theme music composerRob Lane
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
Executive producersKate Harwood
Laura Mackie
Rebecca Eaton
ProducerLouis Marks
EditorPhilip Kloss
Running time210 minutes
Production companyWGBH Boston for BBC
Original networkBBC1
Picture format16:9 576i
Audio formatStereo
Original release23 November (2002-11-23) –
7 December 2002 (2002-12-07)


Set in 1870s England, the story involves the overlapping narratives of two characters. Daniel Deronda (Hugh Dancy) is an intelligent and handsome young man of obscure origins who has been raised as part of the family of his guardian, Sir Hugo Mallinger (Edward Fox). Gwendolen Harleth (Romola Garai) is a spoiled, beautiful young woman living with her mother and sisters in an obscure country neighbourhood. She is confident that she will marry a rich man. The likelihood of this increases when she is introduced to a neighbour, Henleigh Grandcourt (Hugh Bonneville), who is heir to Sir Hugo Mallinger. He becomes infatuated with Gwendolen and shows a clear intention to propose; although Gwendolen is not in love with him, she intends to accept. However, on the day of the proposal, Gwendolen meets a woman (Greta Scacchi) who claims to be Grandcourt's mistress and presents three children she claims are his offspring. She tells Gwendolen that she left her husband for Grandcourt and begs Gwendolen not to marry him because it will ruin her children's prospects as his heirs. Horrified by this revelation, Gwendolen promises not to marry Grandcourt and accepts an invitation to travel to Germany with some friends to avoid him.

In Germany, Gwendolen captures the attention of Daniel, making extravagant wagers in a casino. When she returns to her room, she finds a telegram from her mother, informing her that the family is now bankrupt, thanks to bad investments. With no money for the journey home, she pawns a valuable necklace but it is returned to her before she leaves. She realises the person is Deronda. Once back in England, Gwendolen is desperate to improve her family's circumstances. When Grandcourt arrives, proposing marriage and offering to support her family, she reluctantly accepts. In London, Deronda rescues a young woman (Jodhi May) trying to drown herself. He takes her to the home of some friends to recover and learns that she is a Jewish singer named Mirah Lapidoth who had run away from her father and in despair, tried to commit suicide. As she recovers, Deronda becomes more interested in her and Judaism.

After Gwendolen's marriage, Grandcourt turns into a controlling and abusive brute intent on crushing Gwendolen's spirit. He openly flaunts the second family he is maintaining. Gwendolen meets Deronda again and the two become friends. Deronda becomes Gwendolen's confidant. Simultaneously he tries to improve Mirah's circumstances, using his position to promote her as a singer, despite the antisemitic prejudice prevalent in society. Through him, she is reunited with her long-lost brother, Mordecai (Daniel Evans). Unexpectedly Deronda receives a letter from his mother, the Contessa Maria Alcharisi (Barbara Hershey), requesting to meet him in Genoa. Grandcourt, aware of the connection between his wife and Deronda, forces Gwendolen to take a Mediterranean cruise with him. Knowing Deronda will be there as well, Gwendolen has them stop in Genoa. Deronda meets his mother, discovering she is a famous Jewish singer. She gave Daniel to one of her admirers, Sir Hugo, so that he could be raised as an English gentleman and not as a Jew. She confesses that she is dying and wished to see him one last time. Deronda is elated to discover he is Jewish and tells his mother that it is not something he could ever be ashamed of.

Returning from this encounter Daniel sees Gwendolen, who has been rescued after being pulled from the sea. Grandcourt drowned when he was knocked off their sailing boat and Gwendolen was rescued after jumping in after him with a rope. Alone with Deronda in her hotel room, Gwendolen confesses that when Grandcourt went into the water she hesitated to throw the rope, prepared to let him drown. Eventually she jumped in but it was too late. Deronda comforts her and tells her that it does not make her a bad person and she declares that she wants to be with him.

Deronda cannot deny his love for Mirah and Sir Hugo reluctantly gives his blessing. Deronda meets Gwendolen, who has returned to live with her family, to tell her the news. Although disappointed, she gives him her best wishes and declares that because of knowing him, she will be a better person in life. Daniel and Mirah marry and sail away to the East.



Louis Marks originally wanted to make a film adaptation of the novel but abandoned the project after a lengthy and fruitless casting process. The drama took a further five years to make it to television screens.[1] The serial was Marks' final television production before his death in 2010.[2]


John Leonard of New York Magazine wrote: "the same production team that did such a wonderful job on Middlemarch is equally adept here, although the heavy-breathing plot threatens every twenty minutes or so to make us smile in spite of our high-mindedness."[3]


British Academy Television Craft Awards[4]
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards[5]
  • Best Drama Series/Serial – Won
Banff Rockie Award[6]
  • Best Miniseries – Won
Royal Television Society Craft & Design Awards[7]
  • Costume Design - Drama - Nominated (Mike O'Neill)
  • Music - Original Score - Won (Rob Lane)
  • Production Design - Drama - Won (Don Taylor)


  1. ^ Fox, Chloe. "High drama Archived 17 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group).
  2. ^ Hayward, Anthony (7 October 2010). "Louis Marks obituary Archived 19 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). Retrieved on 17 October 2010.
  3. ^ Leonard, John (20 March 2003). "The Teflon Mayor - Nymag". New York Magazine.
  4. ^ "Craft Nominations 2002 Archived 28 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved on 17 October 2010.
  5. ^ "2003". Broadcasting Press Guild. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  6. ^ Robertson, Colin (10 June 2003). "BBC2 comedy drama honoured at Banff Archived 3 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine" (subscription access). Broadcast (Emap Media).
  7. ^ "CRAFT & DESIGN AWARDS 2003". Royal Television Society. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2023.

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