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Pallisers, The (1974)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Part 1, BBC2, tx. 19/1/1974

During the Duke of Omnium's garden party, his nephew, Plantagenet Palliser, is seen speaking intimately with Lady Dunbello. The Uncle, who has just increased his nephew's allowance, is displeased and decides to find out if this is more than an innocent friendship. George Vavasor and his friend Dolly Longstaffe also observe their closeness and are amazed, as Plantagenet, a member of Parliament, has long been thought uninterested in women. The two men also note that their friend Burgo Fitzgerald is courting the young heiress Lady Glencora. Their affection for each other, as they dance and chase each other around the grounds, is clear for all to see, and greatly distresses her aunts, the Marchioness of Auld Reekie and the Countess Midlothian. They decide that a proper match for her must be found, as Burgo has squandered his own inheritance. They decide that Plantagenet would be a perfect husband, although when the two meet at the party Glencora is clearly unimpressed, thinking him extremely boring. The aunts gain the permission of the Duke to pursue the match.

At the club, George, who has returned from the Colonies after making some money, tells Dolly that he is thinking of running for Parliament. Burgo runs in to them and asks George to help arrange an assignation by taking him to visit his cousin Alice when she is seeing Glencora. The Duke lets Plantagenet know that unless he stops frequenting Lady Dunbello, he will cut him off financially. Plantagenet ignores the threat and goes to meet her in the park, where Burgo secretly meets Glencora and arranges to meet at Alice's house.

When Alice realises why Glencora has come to visit her, she refuses to allow the meeting with Burgo to take place under her roof, despite the pleadings of the couple. Plantagenet goes home and finds the Duke and Lady Dunbello waiting for him. The Duke convinces her to break off the affair permanently, against Plantagenet's wishes. He is shocked when the Duke suggests that instead he take her as his mistress once he has married Glencora.

Glencora is put under huge pressure by her family to marry Plantagenet, and in despair agrees to his proposal of marriage. The Duke bestows great wealth and property on Plantagenet after the engagement takes place. Glencora despairingly tells Alice that she still loves Burgo but will now have to marry Plantagenet.