Wives and Daughters is a 1999 four part BBC serial adapted from the novel Wives and Daughters: An Everyday Story by Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell.
The series was a joint production of the BBC and WGBH Boston, an American public broadcast station and 'won high audience ratings' when it first screened in the UK in 1999. Its audience rivalry with an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, screened on ITV at the same time, was dubbed 'the battle of the bonnets'. It appeared in the US on BBC America in August 2000 and was later shown on PBS.
It focuses on Molly Gibson, the daughter of the town doctor, and the changes that occur in her life after her widowed father chooses to remarry. The union brings into her once-quiet life an ever-proper stepmother who is 'too vain and shallow to care for anything beyond her improved social status'. Also a flirtatious stepsister, Cynthia, while a friendship with the local squire brings about an unexpected romance. A New York Times review of the series in 2001 said 'The entire cast gets the characters right.'
Written by Andrew Davies, produced by Sue Birtwistle and directed by Nicholas Renton, the programme also features Michael Gambon, Penelope Wilton, Bill Paterson and Rosamund Pike.