Aired Sunday April 18th, 2010 at 8:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
Naomie Harris as Hortense
Masterpiece Classic "Small Island," airing on KUED Sundays, April 18 and 25 at 8:00 p.m., is the story of Jamaican immigrants arriving in post World War II London with hope, energy and the capacity for rejection. Faithfully adapted from Andrea Levy's book, "Small Island," the two-part film fetures humor and heartbreak with the unfolding of personal struggles, disenchanted opportunities and new friendships.
Starring Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean) and David Oyelowo (The Last King of Scotland), "Small Island" portrays the historical turning point between Jamaica - then under British rule - and England, when Jamaicans began arriving in England is search of a better life.
"What happened in 1948, when my parents came to Britain, is that a lot of people here didn't know why they were coming and what relationship the Caribbean had to Britain," says author Andrea Levy, who was born in England of Jamaican parents. "That was our struggle - to try and educate people about what our history had been."
Hortense, (Harris), is an intelligent teenage Jamaican girl who dreams of marrying Michael (Ashley Walters) and moving to England. With the arrival of World War II, Michael joins the RAF to fight in Europe while Hortense remains in Jamaica saving money she earns as a teacher. When Michael is declared missing-in-action, Hortense marries Gilbert (Oyelowo) a happy-go-lucky laborer. Their marriage ensures a pass to London.
The landlords to the newly arrived Hortense and Gilbert are Queenie and Bernard, (Ruth Wilson and Benedict Cumberbatch), a conventional but mismatched English couple. Queenie's open heart attitude and lack of prejudice portrays an English welcome unusual to Jamaican immigrants during the era. The developing relationship between the four intertwines tragic misunderstanding, trusting friendships and committed love.
"Perfect Sunday evening drama - intensely acted, skillfully shot, and subtly passionate about subjects no one should ignore," wrote a Daily Express critic. "Carefully made and engrossing ... a haunting story and a great cast," wrote The Scotsman. Author Levy agrees. "The cast does a fantastic job," she says. "I cannot now think of the characters without seeing the actors."
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