Watch A Dance to the Music of Time

The television series A Dance To The Music Of Time tells the story of two Englishmen navigating the wild cultural changes of English society between the 1920s and the post-war years. The series chronicles the decades-long friendship of Kenneth Widmerpool (Simon Russel Beale) and Nicholas Jenkins (James Purefoy) and each man's struggles with romance, adultery, war, marriage, divorce, and career ambition during some of England's most tumultuous years of the twentieth century. Claire Skinner, Emma Fielding, and Miranda Richardson play the women involved with Widmerpool and Jenkins. Gillian Barge plays Mrs. Erdleigh and Nicholas Jones plays Bob Duport.

The plot begins in a school in the 1920s where Kenneth Widmerpool, a target for ridicule from schoolmates, meets Nicholas Jenkins, a philandering womanizer. The story flashes forward into the thirties where the two friends deal with problems in their marriages while experimenting with wild living in Britain's rising bohemian culture. All the while the dark clouds of war loom as Hitler's Nazi regime begins to gain power in Germany.

Emmy-winner Christopher Moraff shares the director's chair with Alvin Rakoff. The Emmy-winning screenwriter for the series, Hugh Whitemore, is known for his expertise in English history and adds a knowledgeable depth to A Dance To The Music Of Time.

The series was released in 1997 in four two-hour segments. Simon Russell Beale won three Best Actor awards (BAFTA TV Award, RTS Television Award, Broadcasting Press Guild Award) for his performance as Kenneth Widmerpool. Miranda Richardson was nominated twice for Best Actress for her role as Pamela Flitton. The series was also nominated for Best Costume Design, Best Design, and Best Makeup/Hair.

Thursdays on Channel 4
1 Season, 6 Episodes
October 9, 1997
Cast: Gillian Barge, Nicholas Jones, Simon Russell Beale, Robin Bailey
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A Dance to the Music of Time Full Episode Guide

  • Ten years after the end of WWII, Quiggin starts a literary magazine. Pamela leaves MP Widmerpool for X Trapnel but eventually returns.

  • A decade has passed. Nick and his wife Isobel have moved to the country. Widmerpool has become a Labour MP and is dabbling in Eastern European politics. His wife Pamela is behaving even…

  • WWII has broken out and Nick Jenkins is in the army, leaving behind his wife Isobel, who is expecting their first child

  • Jenkins reconnects with Stringham and Widmerpool and meets Quiggan. Widmerpool is articled to a solicitor but intends to go into business and politics as well.

  • Nick Jenkins and his friends have moved from twenty- to thirty-somethings. Marriages are beginning to crumble and youthful optimism is fading fast.

  • The first film looks at the life of Kenneth Widmerpool, a tubby, much-teased boy at school who is to grow into a determined influence on his friends. Among these friends is Nicholas…

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A Dance to the Music of Time is available to watch and stream on Channel 4. You can also buy, rent A Dance to the Music of Time on demand at Amazon Prime online.