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Short summary

On the eve of World War I, Agnes Conway manages both the business and the problems of her troubled family. She finds the strength to break class barriers and help her sister Jessie marry a good boy from a family of dockside toughs. Is she strong enough to break them again when Charles Farrier, a gentleman, courts her over his parents' opposition? Agnes faces an added dilemma when she finds her heart divided between Charles and his soldier brother Reginald.

The song lyrics heard during the end credits are from the poem "A Town Window" by John Drinkwater, which was written during the period in which the story is set. In the song, Warwick has been changed to Durham.

The title comes from Lord Byron's poem "L'Amitie est L'Amour sans Ailes" which translates to "friendship is love without wings."

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Skrimpak
    Catherine Cookson was for many years the most borrowed and read writers from UK public libraries, and her novels remain popular years after her death. The TV adaptations which were made over a twenty year span generally do the books proud without making their thin plots seem ridiculous, and 'The Wingless Bird' is no exception.

    Agnes Conway (Claire Skinner) is an independent young lady who works in her father's sweet shop. She's shielding her sister Jessie (Michelle Charles), who is having a secret romance with someone of a lower class, while herself engaging in an intrigue with the impossibly handsome Charles Farrier (Edward Atterton), the second son of a moneyed military family.

    This is typical Cookson territory, really. There's high drama, attempted murders, disgrace, scandal, and a swathe of upper class snooty horrors including Charles' mother (Elspet Gray, perhaps still best known as mother to The Black Adder).

    'The Wingless Bird' is engrossing, if predictable, fare, and is beautifully photographed and flawlessly played by its cast (Skinner in particular is excellent as are Anne Reid as her mother and Julian Wadham as the eldest Farrier son, Reg). A superior soapy drama.
  • comment
    • Author: Falya
    The middle classes were just as prejudiced as the upper classes were. The usual double standard, with the father having his mistress, and his wife bringing up the mistress's child, while refusing to show any sympathy for this child when she herself becomes pregnant. The attraction by the aristocrat for the shopkeeper's daughter did not strike me as real, nor did the aristocrat's mother refusal to see him. The premise that somebody from the real aristocracy would fall so easily in love with a shopgirl, well, I wonder how necessary it was to the story, whether something else could not have been invented for the purpose. The war scenes were well done. The lowest people of the classes were also a bit too nice (being dock people and all). But it was lovely to follow and the English towns were enjoyable.
  • Series cast summary:
    Claire Skinner Claire Skinner - Agnes Conway 3 episodes, 1997
    Edward Atterton Edward Atterton - Charles Farrier 3 episodes, 1997
    Anne Reid Anne Reid - Alice Conway 3 episodes, 1997
    Michelle Charles Michelle Charles - Jessie Conway 3 episodes, 1997
    Julian Wadham Julian Wadham - Reginald Farrier 3 episodes, 1997
    Daniel Casey Daniel Casey - Robbie Felton 3 episodes, 1997
    Dinsdale Landen Dinsdale Landen - Colonel Farrier / - 3 episodes, 1997
    Elspet Gray Elspet Gray - Grace Farrier 3 episodes, 1997
    Helen Morland Helen Morland - Nan Henderson 3 episodes, 1997
    Anne Orwin Anne Orwin - Ma Felton 3 episodes, 1997
    Frank Grimes Frank Grimes - Arthur Conway 2 episodes, 1997
    Amanda Royle Amanda Royle - Elaine Dawson Porter 2 episodes, 1997
    Ronald Herdman Ronald Herdman - Doctor Bailey / - 2 episodes, 1997
    Shaun Mechen Shaun Mechen - Jimmy Felton 2 episodes, 1997
    Dale Meeks Dale Meeks - Mike Felton 2 episodes, 1997
    Moira Redmond Moira Redmond - Nessy Forrester 2 episodes, 1997
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