The Line of Beauty

Watch The Line of Beauty

  • 2006
  • 1 Season
  • 7.4  (1,891)

The Line of Beauty is a compelling and strikingly evocative television drama adapted from the Booker-prize-winning novel of the same name by Alan Hollinghurst. It was first broadcast by the BBC Two in 2006, presenting audiences with a three-part miniseries that beautifully illustrates the social, political, and cultural vicissitudes of 1980s Britain against a backdrop of human narratives and colourful characters.

The narrative traces the story of the main protagonist, Nick Guest, who is played by Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame. The character of Nick is multi-faceted, complex and intriguing. He is a postgraduate student at Oxford, whose life undergoes a dramatic transformation when he moves into the Notting Hill home of his Oxford mate, Toby Fedden. The Feddens are a wealthy and influential family with deep connections to Britain's political establishment, and here Nick becomes a live-in friend rather than a conventional lodger.

In the opulently decorated rooms of the Fedden house, Nick finds himself navigating the corridors of power and wealth, affording viewers a rare glimpse into the glitz, glamour, and excesses of the Thatcher era upper classes. But this is not merely a tale of 80s extravagance, for underneath the facade of elegance and glamour, The Line of Beauty weaves together stories of personal and political maneuvering, complex romantic entanglements, and the poignant reality of the burgeoning AIDS crisis.

Filled with nuanced performances from a diverse and skilled ensemble of actors like Tim McInnerny and Hayley Atwell, The Line of Beauty delivers a sophisticated blend of social commentary, emotional depth, and dramatic tension. The series also explores issues of sexuality as it charts Nick's exploration of his gay identity in a time of social conservatism, providing a sensitive and profound perspective on queer narratives during this period.

The visual aesthetics of the series are also noteworthy. The BBC’s production team has done an exquisite job of bringing the opulence of the 80s to life on screen, depicted in the high-end fashion, lavishly decorated homes, and the vibrant London nightlife. The series beautifully mirrors its title’s reference to a theory from Hogarth on the serpentine 'S' curve's aesthetic beauty, as it gracefully traces the ebbs and flows of Nick's life as well as the socio-economic landscape of the times.

As a study of British high society, it touches upon the contradictions of wealth, privilege, and power. At the heart of the series is a meditation on beautiful things and their inherently transient nature. The 'Line of Beauty,' Nick learns, is often etched into fleeting moments and ephemeral experiences.

Deftly directed by Saul Dibb and intricately scripted by Andrew Davies, the viewers are taken on an introspective journey through societal expectations and personal desires, amid a world on the brink of profound change. The nuanced examination of class, politics, love, and loss set this series apart, engaging viewers with its richness in emotion and captivating storytelling.

One last noteworthy aspect of The Line of Beauty is its evocative score. Utilizing music from the period, it perfectly encapsulates the essence of the time, enhancing the narrative by creating a sense of place and evoking an array of emotions. This clever musical curation complements the show’s overall production.

In conclusion, The Line of Beauty is a powerful and remarkably perceptive miniseries. It succeeds in capturing a distinctive socio-cultural period in British history while exploring the universal human stories of love, identity, and loss that reside within it. Its thoughtful depiction of the personal narratives of its characters, the unfolding drama of British high society, and the cultural shifts of the 1980s offers audiences a compelling viewing experience imbued with both charm and thoughtful insight. An absolute must-watch for fans of finely crafted drama, history, and literature alike.

The Line of Beauty is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (3 episodes). The series first aired on May 17, 2006.

The Line of Beauty
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The End of the Street
3. The End of the Street
May 31, 2006
It's the week of the 1987 election, and Gerald and Rachel Fedden set off for Barwick. Nick is left to look after Catherine, whose medication has left her in a depressive slump. Whilst working at Ogee, Wani's company, Nick is visited by Rosemary Charles. She brings awful news - her brother Leo died of AIDS three weeks previously. Nick is devastated. His mood is further depressed by a restaurant meeting with potential US backers of his and Wani's film project. On arrival, Wani's illness is obvious, and unsettles everyone. After his business partner and lover has been sick, Nick drives him home and says goodbye, for what seems likely to be the last time. Still trying to cope with his sorrow, Nick returns home to discover reporters outside the Feddens'. He learns that Gerald has been implicated in a share scandal involving Maurice Tipper. Catherine responds to the situation by convincing Nick to drive her to the flat of Gerald's friend Badger, seemingly on a whim. Once there, it becomes clear that Gerald is using the flat to conduct an affair with his secretary, Penny. The next day, the papers are full of this new scandal - Catherine has exposed her father. Gerald has no choice but to resign. Rachel, furious at Nick, accuses him of betrayal for failing to control and protect Catherine. She reveals that they have just learned about Catherine cutting herself four years ago. Things worsen further when the full story of Nick's affair with Wani is splashed across the tabloids. Catherine has exposed him too - deterimined that no-one should have any secrets. Already shaken, Nick is insulted by Gerald's friend Barry, and then has to undergo the uncertainty of taking an AIDS test and awaiting the result. After thinking things over, Nick feels he is left with only one option. He goes to Gerald to tell him he's moving out, in order to spare him any more embarrassment. But Gerald goes on the attack immediately, making Nick a scapegoat for his problems. Ordered
To Whom Do You Beautifully Belong
2. To Whom Do You Beautifully Belong
May 24, 2006
It's the summer of 1986 and Nick is leading the sort of life he has always dreamed of. Safely installed as a member of the Fedden household, Nick is also a player on the London gay scene. The only thing he's unhappy about is his gorgeous boyfriend Wani's insistence on keeping their affair secret to protect his family's name. So long as his lifestyle is kept quite, Wani's quite happy to indulge to the full - persuading Nick to take part in a threesome after an afternoon at Hampstead ponds, for instance. Meanwhile, Gerald arranges a piano recital for his ghastly Tory pals. Both Wani's fianc?e and his father attend the event, and Nick feels the pressure of his secret love affair more than ever. Some time later, Nick returns to his home town of Barwick, where Gerald is opening a f?te. During the trip, Nick accidentally walks in on Gerald being unfaithful to his wife with his secretary, Penny. Gerald meets Nick's eye and Nick flees. In the summer, Wani and Nick join the Feddens on holiday in France. Also holidaying is Catherine's boyfriend Jasper, who's been bonding with Gerald. And despite Toby having been dumped by his fianc?e Sophie Tipper, Gerald has still invited her influential parents. Relations with the Tippers are strained, and made worse at supper. After a phone call, Rachel delivers the news that Catherine's godfather has died. The family skirt over the cause at first, but Catherine is desperate that the truth be told and that they accept that he died of AIDS. In the ensuing conversation, the Tippers are disgusted to learn of Nick's sexuality. Later, Catherine discovers the truth about Nick and Wani's relationship thanks to a carelessly discarded condom in the pool house. Faced with her questions, Nick admits all. Back in London, Gerald and Rachel's silver wedding party has a very special guest of honour - Mrs Thatcher. Nick begins the party in a subdued mood, having spotted Leo in a pub just before. Leo looked seriously ill, and Nick r
The Love Chord
1. The Love Chord
May 17, 2006
It's the summer of 1983 and Nick Guest comes to live with the Feddens. Gerald Fedden has recently been elected a new Conservative MP in a landslide victory for Mrs Thatcher. Nick is surprised to hear that the family is off on holiday and he will be left in the house, "responsible" for Catherine, his friend Toby's manic depressive sister. One evening, Catherine has an "episode"; Nick comforts her and, together, they agree not to tell her family what happened. Catherine encourages Nick to answer a lonely heart ad, and he goes on a date with Leo. Unable to take each other home, they have sex in the Kensington Park Road residents' communal gardens. Nick loses his virginity and falls in love. The Feddens return from France and Nick begins to feel like a proper member of the family, entranced by their powerful, privileged life. At Toby's 21st birthday party, Nick gets very drunk and catches up with Wani, who offers him some coke. The party becomes more debauched as the evening goes on, but the inexperienced Nick is an observer, rather than participant. Weeks pass, and Nick and Leo become close. Leo takes Nick to see his old boyfriend Pete. In a much more intimate gesture, he takes him home to meet his mum and sister. Mrs Charles, a very religious woman, doesn't know that Leo is gay and thinks Nick is just a good friend. Nick and Leo return to the Feddens' house while the family is away and they spend the night together. The next morning, Leo is cold and suddenly ends the relationship. Nick is left shocked and upset on the doorstep as the Fedden family returns.
Where to Watch The Line of Beauty
The Line of Beauty is available for streaming on the BBC Two website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Line of Beauty on demand at Amazon Prime.
  • Premiere Date
    May 17, 2006
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (1,891)