Plot & Details
Produced for the BBC in 2001, The Mayor of Casterbridge is the second British miniseries version of Thomas Hardy's 1886 novel (the first was filmed in 1978). This time, Ciarán Hinds stars as Michael Henchard, an unemployed drunkard who, in a moment of greedy delirium, sells his wife, Susan (Juliet Aubrey), and their infant daughter, Elizabeth Jane, to a passing sailor -- for a price of five pounds. Sobering up the next day, Henchard conducts a frenzied search for his family, only to find that they have already gone. Swearing off liquor, Henchard promises to re-invent himself as a solid and dependable citizen. He succeeds so thoroughly in this endeavor that, 18 years later, he has risen to the rank of mayor of Casterbridge. About to make his reformation complete by wedding attractive young Lucetta (Polly Walker), Henchard is aghast to discover that his wife and now-grown daughter (played as an adult by Jodhi May), have returned home. Hounded by his conscience, Henchard bends over backward to make amends to his loved ones -- only to revert to his old, disreputable self when things go terribly wrong. Meanwhile, a new intrigue has blossomed vis-à-vis a romantic triangle involving Elizabeth Jane, Lucetta, and handsome, righteous Donald Farfrae (James Purefoy). The Mayor of Casterbridge made its U.S. debut August 17, 2003, on the A&E cable channel.