This article is about the 1984 television miniseries. For information about the 1966 novel on which it was based, see The Jewel in the Crown (novel) or Raj Quartet. For the Fairport Convention album, see Jewel in the Crown (album)The Jewel in the Crown (1984) is a British television serial about the final days of the British Raj in India during World War II, based upon the Raj Quartet novels by Paul Scott. Granada Television produced it for the ITV network.
The film opens in the fictional Indian city of Mayapore and is set during the 1940s against the backdrop of the last days of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement. Hari Kumar (Art Malik) is a young Indian man who was educated at the British public school (the term for a private school) 'Chillingborough' and considers himself English rather than Indian. He works as a journalist in India, lives with his aunt, and becomes involved with a British woman, Daphne Manners. One night, Daphne and Hari are attacked in the Bibighar Gardens by a group of unknown men and Daphne is raped.
A lower-middle class British police officer, Ronald Merrick, holds Hari responsible for the rape and puts him in prison where he tortures him, even though he knows him to be innocent. Merrick's motives are twofold: he resents Hari's privileged education as well as the fact that Daphne preferred Hari to him (Merrick had previously proposed to Daphne and was rejected). Moreover, as becomes explicit in a later episode of the series, Merrick is a repressed homosexual who is not consciously aware of his attraction to Hari. This story becomes the backdrop for a number of intertwining subplots during the end of the British Raj.
After Daphne's death in childbirth, another young British woman, Sarah Layton, becomes the central character. Like Daphne, Sarah is pursued by Merrick, but prefers his subordinate, Guy Perron. Sarah's sister, Susan, is married to the ineffectual Teddie Bingham, who is killed in an enemy attack despite Merrick's attempt to save his life. Merrick later marries Susan.
Hari Kumar is eventually released from prison, but rarely appears in the story. Merrick's activities are known by the authorities and disapproved of, and he dies in disgrace, although his sexual proclivities remain a secret from polite society.
The story line of the television series largely follows that of the novels although, unlike the novels, in the TV series events unfold in roughly chronological order. (In the novel, Hari Kumar does not appear, except in brief vignettes, until more than halfway through The Jewel in the Crown.) More detailed descriptions of the plots are available on the individual pages of the novels:
The following titles are as given on the DVD release.The first episode was double-length (105mins). All others were 52 minutes.
1. Crossing the river
Daphne Manners arrives in India for the first time and meets Hari Kumar.
2. The Bibighar Gardens
The controversy around Daphne's and Hari's relationship escalates to a surprising degree.
3. Questions of loyalty
Hari remains in prison while Daphne gives birth.
4. Incidents at a wedding
Merrick serves as best man at Teddy's and Susan's wedding.
5. The Regimental silver
Susan prepares to celebrate her 21st birthday.
6. Ordeal by fire
Merrick reveals the details of Teddy's death.
7. Daughters of the Regiment
Sarah is the centre of attention when she visits Aunt Fenny.
8. The day of the Scorpion
Sarah meets the Count while travelling home.
9. The towers of silence
Barbie falls ill after a visit to the home of Captain Coley.
10. An evening at the Maharanee's
Merrick interrogates some suspected traitors.
11. Travelling companions
Sarah is promoted to Sergeant.
12. The Moghul room
Perron investigates the secrets in Merrick's past.
13. Pandora's box
Susan struggles to regain her balance after Merrick's accident.
14. The division of the spoils
Merrick's demise is recounted in full.
The series made stars of Art Malik and Charles Dance. Other leading actors included, Peggy Ashcroft (who won the BAFTA Best TV Actress award for her performance), Tim Pigott-Smith, Geraldine James, Judy Parfitt, Rachel Kempson, Eric Porter, Susan Wooldridge, Saeed Jaffrey, and Karan Kapoor (son of Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal). The complexities of the plot ensured that no one character was at the centre of the action throughout, and, thanks to a flashback in the final part, only Ronald Merrick (Piggott-Smith) appeared in every episode (except for Episode 7, where he doesn't appear at all). All four "Best TV Actress" nominations at that year's BAFTAs went to stars of the series, with Ashcroft winning over Wooldridge, James and Parfitt. Pigott-Smith won Best TV Actor.
It was shot on 16mm film, much of it on location in India. The programme was often screened from grainy prints, but was fully remastered for its 2005 DVD release and ITV3 screening, resulting in much better picture quality.
The series is often mentioned in the same breath as Brideshead Revisited. In a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000, voted for by industry professionals, The Jewel in the Crown was placed 22nd.
According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications there was "a cycle of film and television productions which emerged during the first half of the 1980s, which seemed to indicate Britain's growing preoccupation with India, Empire and a particular aspect of British cultural history" http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/J/htmlJ/jewelinthe/jewelinthe.htm. In addition to The Jewel in the Crown, this cycle also included Gandhi (1982), Heat and Dust (1983), The Far Pavilions (1984) and A Passage to India (1984). The trend was spoofed on The Lenny Henry Show in the mid-1980s with a mock serial called The Jewel in India's Passage.
Mini-series co-star Charles Dance has commented how it has a devout following to this day. "I think that aired here in 1983, and there are people still to this day who assemble in each other’s houses and have Jewel In The Crown weekends and watch all 14 hours, mostly in America," he told Attention Deficit Delirium. "I have people stopping me in the street now saying that they watched Jewel In The Crown again a couple of months ago, and I think, 'Bloody hell, did you really?' So I’m known to that generation for a completely different type of work. The current film and television viewing audience is much younger, and the kind of things that I’m known for are these rather off-the-wall, slightly villainous characters in fantastical film and television things, but that’s okay. It’s better to be looked over than to be overlooked in my business."