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Publisher's Summary

The complete series one and two of the historical comic sitcom about an embattled Victorian publishing company.

London, 1853, and the sedate religious publishing house of Spavin and Spavin is about to experience a radical shake-up. Vivacious actress Cordelia is on the hunt for a husband and has her eye on Gerald, one of the firm's partners, while her son, Primus, has ambitions to take over the firm. And when he does, it'll be out with the Bibles and in with the best sellers - starting with Charlotte Brontë's latest blockbuster....

Full of grand plans, he sets about wooing a wealth of other writers, including explorer Richard Burton, Charlotte Bronte and struggling novelist Wilkie Collins (who takes quite a shine to Cordelia). He even hires an assistant, Simeon, to manage publicity, and attempts to win a literary award by fair means or foul. But Primus' enthusiasm doesn't go down too well with Gerald's mother Edith (the firm's other partner), who is strongly opposed to the company publishing fiction. Worse, his willingness to spend the company's money has pushed Spavin and Spavin to the edge of bankruptcy.... 

Hoping for salvation from financial ruin, Primus turns to luminaries such as Prince Albert and Charles Dickens - but could the crock of gold he's searching for be right under his nose?

Written by Martyn Wade (The Little Ottleys), this delightful, tongue-in-cheek comedy stars Michael Cochrane as Primus and Maggie Steed as Cordelia, with a cast including Elizabeth Spriggs, Charles Simpson, David Horovitch, Joan Sims and Ioan Meredith.

Production credits

Written by Martyn Wade

Directed by Cherry Cookson

Music composed by Paul Mottram

Violinist: Paul Mottram


Primus - Michael Cochrane

Cordelia - Maggie Steed

Gerald - David Horovitch

Edith - Elizabeth Spriggs

Reverend Brontë/Prosser - Geoffrey Whitehead

Charlotte Brontë - Sarah Jane Holm

Mrs Gaskell/Emily Brontë/Katie Joiner/Mrs Prosser - Frances Jeater

Equity/Waiter/George Eliot/Thackeray - David Antrobus

Richard Burton - Norman Rodway

Wilkie Collins - David Timson

Simeon - Charles Simpson

Prince Albert/Smiles/Trollope - Ioan Meredith

John/Rossetti/Cab driver - Stephen Critchlow

Mrs Quirk - Joan Sims

Lizzie Siddal - Becky Hindley

Mrs Beeton - Rachel Atkins

Beeton - Gerard McDermott

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 20 August-10 September 1998 (Series One), 7-28 January 2000 (Series Two)

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-13-21


A joy to listen too. Maggie Stead and Elizabeth Spriggs amazing - such voices! The story engaging and denouement just what I wanted.