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Masterpiece Classic: Small Island

Airs Sunday, April 18, and Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Adapted from Andrea Levy’s best-selling, award-winning novel, this is the moving saga of two couples — one Jamaican, one English — whose lives intertwine in both friendship and tragic misunderstanding in post-World-War-II Britain. David Oyelowo (left) and Naomie Harris (right) star as the Jamaican immigrants.

Adapted from Andrea Levy’s best-selling, award-winning novel, “Small Island” tells the moving saga of two couples — one Jamaican, one English — whose lives intertwine in both friendship and tragic misunderstanding in post-WWII Britain. Naomie Harris ("Pirates of the Caribbean") and David Oyelowo ("The Last King of Scotland") star as the Jamaican immigrants, with Ruth Wilson (“Jane Eyre”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Last Enemy”) as their English landlords.

Ruth Wilson (left) and David Oyelowo (right)
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Above: Ruth Wilson (left) and David Oyelowo (right)

Episode One: Hortense Joseph arrives in London at Queenie Bligh's house to live with her new husband Gilbert Joseph; a man she only married to fulfill her dream of leaving Jamaica to live in England. Dismayed by Gilbert's dingy attic room, she pauses to remember Michael, her first love in Jamaica, and his betrayal that led them to be banished from their childhood home on the eve of war. Queenie, meanwhile, reflects on her own unsatisfactory marriage to dull Bernard and a passionate meeting with a Jamaican Royal Air Force airman during the Blitz. Gilbert remembers his desperation to leave Jamaica and fight for the mother country, and then his meeting Queenie in Yorkshire, and the tragic shooting that separated them. Now in 1948, their lives converge in London and their long-held secrets threaten to derail their already fragile marriages.

Episode Two: Hortense begins her new life in England and soon learns it is not the golden land she had hoped it would be. She and Gilbert suffer racism and ignorance, but in adversity come to discover new qualities in each other. Queenie witnesses firsthand the travails of her tenants, but is soon drawn into a consuming situation of her own, one that will alter the lives of all involved and force unthinkable sacrifices.

"Small Island" will be available for online viewing April 19 - May 25, 2010.

Video

Preview: Masterpiece Classic: Small Island

Above: This mini-series, adapted from the award-winning 2004 novel, stars Naomie Harris ("Pirates of the Caribbean," "White Teeth") as Hortense, a young ambitious Jamaican woman thrust into the grit of 1940s post-war London.

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