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Masterpiece Theatre's "Aristocrats" will prove tedious for anyone except the most dedicated Anglophiles.

Anglophile Alert


Masterpiece Theatre's "Aristocrats" is for hard-core Anglophiles alone. Others will find it excruciatingly tedious.

"Aristocrats" is the true story of four sisters who were the bastard great-granddaughters of King Charles II. Filmed entirely in Ireland and set in royal palaces and country houses in England and Ireland from 1740 to 1832, this sweeping costume drama focuses on the Lennox girls — Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah.

The script is based on Stella Tillyard's book, which was drawn from volumes of the sisters' letters in the British Library.

Each sister presents a complex personality. The eldest, Caroline (Serena Gordon), defies her parents and marries Henry Fox, who becomes one of the most powerful and hated men in Parliament. Emily (Geraldine Somerville) marries a wealthy Irish lord and produces 22 children with him and his successor, her children's tutor. (One of her children was Edward Fitzgerald, the Irish martyr.)

Louisa (Anne-Marie Duff) marries another rich Irishman and leads an exemplary life. But it is Sarah (Jodhi May) who is the most interesting. Early on she catches the eye of the future King George III, but nothing comes of it, and she enters a loveless marriage, only to become a fallen woman following a wild affair.

But "Aristocrats," despite its potential and the success of the book it's based on, is numbingly long. It airs at 9 p.m. on three consecutive Sundays beginning Oct. 10 on

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