Saturday, 3 October 2015


Cornwall, 1936. The young Judith Dunbar is enrolled in a boarding school before her mother and sister rejoin her father in Asia. She becomes friends with one of her classmates, the rebellious Loveday Carey-Lewis. Loveday invites Judith to Nancherrow, the magnificent Carey-Lewis family estate. 

Coming Home (1998), a two-part TV serial based on the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher, is available since last month on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films as La Dynastie Carey-Lewis - Le grand retour.
Born in Cornwall in 1924, Rosamunde Pilcher is the author of 28 romantic novels published from 1949 to 2000, first under nom-de-plume "Jane Fraser" and later under her name. Pilcher's international breaktrough came in 1987 with The Shell Seekers, a family saga which became a worldwide best-seller. Two years later Angela Lansbury starred in an Anglo-American film for television adapted from the book (1) but it's actually viewers of German public broadcaster ZDF who made the work of Rosamunde Pilcher one of their favourite programmes during the 1990s.

Since 1993, the channel aired more than 100 adaptations of her books in the Rosamunde Pilcher Collection. Most of these TV movies or serials/mini-series are directly commissioned by ZDF and filmed in England, usually in Cornwall, with a majority of German actors. A few are international co-productions with a British main cast and some were simply bought for the collection. Scriptwriter John Goldsmith (Danny, the Champion of the World, The Return of The Saint) and director Giles Foster (Tales of the Unexpected) turned Coming Home (1995) into a 2 X 100-minute production from Portman Entertainment and Tele München, shown on ITV in April 1998 and on ZDF in June of the same year.

From 1936 to 1945, Coming Home follows the lives of members of the wealthy Carey-Lewis family and their friends through the eyes of Judith Dunbar. As a teenager, Judith is performed by Keira Knightley while the adult character is played by Emily Mortimer. Katie Ryder Richardson plays Loveday Carey-Lewis, Judith Dunbar's best friend, as an adult. The glamorous Diana (Joanna Lumley) and her much older husband Colonel Edgar Carey-Lewis (the legendary Peter O'Toole), Loveday's parents, accept Judith as one of their own. She discovers Nancherrow and also meets Tommy Mortimer (Patrick Ryecart) and Dr. Jeremy Wells (George Asprey).

When her aunt and tutor Louise (Penelope Keith) dies in a car accident Judith inherits a fortune. She gets attracted to Loveday's playboy brother Edward (Paul Bettany) and Loveday falls for Gus (Austrian actor Heiko Deutschmann). But World War II erupts and everybody faces its dramatic consequences. With an excellent cast (including Susan Hampshire and David McCallum), gorgeous locations (2), its romance and a wartime saga, Coming Home has all you can expect from the genre. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Pride and Prejudice).

ITV and ZDF aired a two-part sequel titled Nancherrow in 1999. In France it was coupled with Coming Home to be shown on M6 as La Dynastie des Carey-Lewis in 2001. Koba Films releases Coming Home in a two-disc set with the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and a good dubbing by Dub'Club (American Horror Story, White Collar). Jean Fontaine and Xavier Varaillon wrote the French dialogues.

(1) The Shell Seekers was adapted again in 2006 with Vanessa Redgrave.
(2) Cornwall but also Wrotham Park, in Hertfordshire, doubling as Nancherrow.

[Update - March 12, 2016] (Nancherrow)

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