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Why Howards End will be your winter period drama obsession

Prima (UK) logo Prima (UK) 12/11/2017 Naomi Gordon

Why Howards End will be your winter period drama obsession © BBC/Playground Television UK Limited 2017/Laurie Sparham Why Howards End will be your winter period drama obsession If you've been missing the sensibilities, social awkwardness, and exquisite costumes of the chattering classes since the demise of Downton Abbey, then BBC's period drama Howards End could be the perfect winter warmer for you.

What's it about?

The four-part adaptation of E.M Forster's classic novel - set in 1905 in England - follows three families constricted by class and social status, but ultimately bound by fate.

It centres on the intellectual, self-deprecating feminist Margaret Schlegel, whose endearing younger sister Helen becomes involved with a member of the Wilcox family – who own the beautiful country house, Howards End.

a man and a woman sitting at a table © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK) Helen falls for the youngest Wilcox son Paul, but after a misunderstanding between the pair, they call off their brief romance, with Helen returning to her family home in London, attempting to put the awkwardness behind her.

Before long, the Schlegels also become inextricably linked with Leonard Bast, a struggling banker from an impoverished working-class background.

In another twist of fate, the Wilcox family move into a flat next door to the Schlegels, with Margaret striking up an unlikely friendship with the ailing Mrs Wilcox, and an instant attraction to her husband, Henry Wilcox.

The stunning drama breathes life into three families from different ends of the class spectrum who are connected by circumstance and love.

'It is fast-paced, has a lightness of touch, and a lot of humour which doesn't take away from its depth,' Margaret's Hayley Atwell told Harpers Bazaar UK about the new series, written by Manchester By The Sea's Oscar-winning Kenneth Lonergan.

'It also doesn't refrain from asking brave questions and having very relevant ideas for today, especially women navigating their way through the the world, independently if they can, financially, and having an independent mind,' she continued.

'And there's a lot similarities between these girls and that time in this adaptation than we would necessarily assume from a period drama.'

Who's in it?

a man standing in front of a tree © Provided by National magazine company ltd (Hearst UK)

Brideshead Revisited star Atwell takes the lead as Margaret, while 24-year-old Australian actress Philippa Coulthard plays her lovable sister Helen, and Alex Lawther as hypochondriac Tibby.

'Howards End is classic because it transcends time, and Margaret transcends time,' Atwell added. 'She existed very much in that time and period, but she speaks to us now, and she has something to say that's relevant now.'

Pride and Prejudice's Matthew Macfadyen plays the oafish Henry Wilcox, and My Week with Marlin actress Julia Ormond plays his disarming wife, Mrs Wilcox.

Tracy Ullman is wickedly funny as the overbearing Aunt Juley to Margaret, Helen and Tibby. Joseph Quinn plays the timid Leonard Bast.

Howards End begins on Sunday on BBC1.

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