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The Camomile Lawn 

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In 1939, young Oliver, Calypso, Polly and Walter visit friends and family in Cornwall. Spanish Civil War is over and WW2 has begun, so they enjoy their love life while they can. Decades later, they gather again, this time for a funeral.




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Series cast summary:
Felicity Kendal ...  Helena 4 episodes, 1992
Claire Bloom ...  Sophy (older) 4 episodes, 1992
Jennifer Ehle ...  Calypso 4 episodes, 1992
Richard Johnson ...  Oliver (older) 4 episodes, 1992
Rebecca Hall ...  Sophy 4 episodes, 1992
Nicholas Le Prevost ...  Hamish / ... 4 episodes, 1992
Paul Eddington ...  Richard 4 episodes, 1992
Oliver Cotton ...  Max 4 episodes, 1992
Virginia McKenna ...  Polly (older) 4 episodes, 1992
Trudy Weiss ...  Monika 4 episodes, 1992
Vivienne Ritchie Vivienne Ritchie ...  Iris 4 episodes, 1992
John Elmes John Elmes ...  James 4 episodes, 1992
James Gaddas ...  Tony 4 episodes, 1992
Tara Fitzgerald ...  Polly 3 episodes, 1992
Polly Adams ...  Sarah 3 episodes, 1992
Toby Stephens ...  Oliver 3 episodes, 1992
Jeremy Brook Jeremy Brook ...  Paul 3 episodes, 1992
Joss Brook Joss Brook ...  David 3 episodes, 1992
Rosemary Harris ...  Calypso (older) 2 episodes, 1992
Martin Benson ...  Pauli 2 episodes, 1992
Ben Walden ...  Walter 2 episodes, 1992
Richard Syms ...  Parson 2 episodes, 1992
Donald Pickering ...  George 2 episodes, 1992
Richard Vernon ...  General / ... 2 episodes, 1992
Jane Evers Jane Evers ...  Mildred Floyer 2 episodes, 1992


Presents the lives and loves of a family of cousins from 1939 to the present. Follows very closely the Mary Wesley novel. Begins with a funeral and uses the reminiscences of those gathered to fill in details in the lives of Richard and Helena and their nieces and nephews. Written by Dorothy Burgess

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance | War

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

5 March 1992 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Camomile Lawn See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(4 parts)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jennifer Ehle plays the young Calypso, while her mother Rosemary Harris plays the older Calypso. See more »


Referenced in The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

5 June 2006 | by eastbergholt2002See all my reviews

The Camomile Lawn is one of my favorite British TV adaptations. It's based on a book by Mary Wesley, and was first shown in 1992. The director is Sir Peter Hall who founded both the National Theatre and the RSC. There are five episodes and it's compulsive viewing.

It's a family drama set during the early years of World War II. In the last episode the characters meet at a funeral thirty years later, giving it similarities to the Big Chill. The main characters are seven cousins / friends who spend part of their summers in Cornwall at the home of Aunt Helena (Felicity Kendall) and Uncle Richard (Paul Eddington). The story begins in August 1939, before the Germans invade Poland. The friends, are mostly 18 or 19 and join the war effort when war is declared. The action then moves to London during the Blitz. The young cast all have an abundance of energy and charisma, especially Jennifer Ehle (Young Calypso), Tara Fitzgerald (Young Polly)and Rebecca Hall (Young Sophy).

Philip Larkin famously said that sexual intercourse began in 1963, but he needed to get out more. With death all around them, the lead characters live for today and take a hedonistic approach to sex and booze. As the older Polly says (Virginia McKenna) "it was a happy time."

Mary Wesley creates strong female characters who all seem wise, pragmatic and fun. The men mostly seem flawed and weak in some way. They are either dim-witted, obsessed with sex or confused about what they want. Eddington (Uncle Richard) is regarded by his family as something of a joke. Toby Stephens (Young Oliver) plays a left wing idealist who serves in the Spanish Civil War, lusts after Jennifer Ehle and complains about spending his army career running away from the Germans. Oliver Cotton (Max) plays a violinist who escapes from the clutches of the Nazis in Vienna and chases after the entire female cast.

In Episode Five we meet older versions of the characters, including: Oliver (Richard Johnson), Sophy (Claire Bloom) and Calypso (Rosemary Harris)who talk about their past. Overall, it's fun, fast paced, beautifully written and brilliantly directed.

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