Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | KPBS Voter Guide

MASTERPIECE: The Chaperone

Airs Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Saturday, Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2

Shown: Haley Lu Richardson in

Credit: Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/PBS Distribution

Above: Shown: Haley Lu Richardson in "The Chaperone"

Follow the diffident chaperone to dancer Louise Brooks in this Jazz Age drama from Julian Fellowes

The star, writer, and director of DOWNTON ABBEY the series and film reunite in “The Chaperone,” based on Laura Moriarty’s best-selling novel and featuring actress Elizabeth McGovern, screenwriter Julian Fellowes, and director Michael Engler.

Portraying a Jazz-age quest for personal fulfillment by two markedly different women, the 90-minute program premieres on MASTERPIECE after a successful theatrical run.

“The Chaperone” is the inaugural production of MASTERPIECE FILMS, a movie-making spinoff of the multi-award-winning drama series, which is nearing its 50th anniversary.

The Chaperone: Official Trailer

Society matron Norma Carlisle accompanies young Louise Brooks to New York City for a whirlwind summer full of surprises. Premiering Nov. 24, 2019 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS.

McGovern (DOWNTON ABBEY, "Ordinary People") stars as Norma Carlisle, the diffident chaperone to fellow Kansan, Louise Brooks, destined to become a 1920s sex symbol, played by co-star Haley Lu Richardson ("Split").

The cast also includes Victoria Hill ("First Reformed"), Géza Röhrig ("Son of Saul"), Campbell Scott (HOUSE OF CARDS), Blythe Danner (WILL & GRACE), Miranda Otto (HOMELAND, "The Lord of the Rings"), and New York City Ballet principal dancer Robert Fairchild.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/PBS Distribution

Shown from left to right: Elizabeth McGovern and Campbell Scott in "The Chaperone."

Telling the fictionalized backstory of real-life silent-screen star Louise Brooks, “The Chaperone” begins in 1922, when Brooks is a teenage modern-dance sensation in her hometown, Wichita, Kansas.

Winning a place at the renowned Denishawn Dance Company in New York City, run by Ruth St. Denis (Otto) and Ted Shawn (Fairchild), Louise requires a chaperone for her journey from staid Middle America to the Gatsby-like glory of the big city.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Thomas Concordia/PBS Distribution

Haley Lu Richardson in "The Chaperone."

Enter a family friend, Norma, who is the middle-aged mother of twin grown-up sons and the wife of an emotionally distant local attorney (Scott). She has her own reasons to sign on as Louise’s minder.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/PBS Distribution

Shown from left to right: Elizabeth McGovern and Blythe Danner in "The Chaperone."

In many ways, she is less worldly wise than her fifteen-year-old ward. Nonetheless, she does her best to enforce Presbyterian values on Louise — a job that grows increasingly difficult as their train makes its way east.

Once in New York, Louise pursues dance by day and forbidden pleasures by night (whenever she can sneak away from Norma), while the chaperone embarks on a personal mission: discovering exactly who she is.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/PBS Distribution

Shown: Haley Lu Richardson in "The Chaperone"

Years before, Norma was raised by nuns in a New York orphanage, then placed on a notorious “orphan train,” where she eventually landed with a farm couple in Kansas.

Tracking down the orphanage, Norma asks for the records of her adoption but is refused by the mother superior.

She then enlists the friendly caretaker, a German immigrant named Joseph (Röhrig), to help her penetrate the mystery of her identity.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Barry Wetcher/PBS Distribution

Shown from left to right: Elizabeth McGovern and Géza Röhrig in "The Chaperone."

“The Chaperone” is a story of self-discovery during a tumultuous period in American history.

Louise will go on to become an icon of the Roaring ’Twenties and a rebellious model for her generation, pursuing her glittering career from New York to Hollywood to Berlin.

But Norma, too, will embrace rebellion — and in Wichita, Kansas, no less!

The Chaperone: A Scene

Norma and Louise spend a night out on the town together, which results in a heart to heart conversation about Norma's past.


This series will be available to stream on demand for a limited time after each broadcast. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn more and activate your benefit now.


MASTERPIECE is on Facebook, Pinterest, and you can follow @masterpiecepbs on Twitter. #MasterpiecePBS

"The Chaperone" is on Facebook and Instagram.


A co-production of MASTERPIECE, PBS, Fibonacci Films, Anonymous Content and Rose Pictures. The Executive Producers are Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE, Simon Curtis, Julian Fellowes, Karin Catt, Eli Selden and Adam Shulman. The Co-Executive Producer is Jon Levin and the Co-Producer is Jolian Blevins. The producers are Victoria Hill, Rose Ganguzza, Kelly Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern, Greg Clark, Luca Scalisi and Andrew Mann. It is adapted by Julian Fellowes from the novel by Laura Moriarty. The director is Michael Engler.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Every weekday afternoon, we’ll send you our top TV picks so you can hear about upcoming programs and never miss your favorite shows.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.