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Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Miranda Richardson head up the all-star cast in Ken Follett's epic sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, set in medieval England

About the Show

Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Miranda Richardson head up the all-star cast in Ken Follett's epic sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, set in medieval England

Series 1 Summary

Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Miranda Richardson head up the all-star cast in Ken Follett's epic six-part sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, set in medieval England.

  • World Without End

    Episode 1

    Set in the aftermath of a civil war in Medieval England, Queen Isabella defeats and imprisons her husband, making way for their young son, Edward III, to be crowned King.

    Meanwhile, in the town of Kingsbridge, an injured mysterious knight is helped to shelter by the teenage sons of Sir Gerald, Earl of Shiring: Merthin and Ralph. As healers Mattie and Caris, along with Mother Cecilia and Prior Anthony, nurse him back to health, rumours spread that the King has been murdered and his killer has disappeared.

    The end of the war does not mean peace for the people of Kingsbridge though, as the arrival of the corrupt Queen's right-hand man, Sir Roland, leads to the punishment of supposed 'traitors' in the town.

    Caris and her aunt, Petranilla, try to use their charms to secure the freedom of Caris' father Edmund, but Petranilla has her own motives and will go to any lengths to achieve her ambitions for her son, Godwyn.

  • World Without End

    Episode 2

    Following the devastating effects of the bridge collapse in the medieval town of Kingsbridge, young medical student Caris takes charge of caring for the casualties as the townsfolk mourn their losses.

    While Godwyn argues that the disaster is a divine sign that the town should return to stricter ways, Merthin convinces Caris that all is not lost, encouraging her to carry on and rebuild the bridge with stone.

    However, their plan is stilted when the newly-appointed Lord of Wigleigh refuses Wulfric's inheritance, intent on carrying out Queen Isabella's order to stop work on the new bridge.

    Still determined to push for change, Godwyn is hell-bent on becoming the new prior and securing the power that comes with it.

    Meanwhile, the Queen carries out a crafty plan to convince her son, King Edward III, to declare war on her enemies.

  • World Without End

    Episode 3

    With the construction of the new bridge now well in hand under Merthin's supervision, Ralph is undertaking a task of his own to fund the ongoing war with France by any means necessary and at whatever price.

    Meanwhile, Godwyn is outraged when Mother Cecilia dismisses his plans to build a palace on the convent land, promising Caris a hospital instead.

    Fighting back, Godwyn issues a new law giving the priory control over all town land, including the convent, which will force Caris and Mother Cecilia to travel to London to argue their rights.

    Desperate to destroy all documentation and ensure the ruling goes in his favour, Godwyn, encouraged by the ruthless Petranilla, murders the judge and starts a fire to seal the deal, replacing Merthin with Elfric on the bridge project to ensure further power.

  • World Without End

    Episode 4

    It is almost a decade later in France, and Edward III is desperate to find a way for his army to cross the River Somme, otherwise they will be trapped and under siege.

    Mother Cecilia announces the good news that she has been left some money that will finally let her fund the hospital. The next morning, Caris receives a letter from Merthin confessing that he cannot forget her.

    When Godwyn inevitably gets his hands on the money, he keeps it, his excuse being that there is no document confirming it as convent property.

    Mother Cecilia decides that the only way to be free of Godwyn's rule is for Caris to journey to the battlefield in France to petition the King. After a dangerous journey through war-torn France, Caris, accompanied by Sister Mair, arrives at the besieged camp and meets Edward III again.

    Almost in despair at his army's useless situation, his spirits are raised by Caris' virtues of courage and persistence, and it inspires him to attack rather than surrender.

  • World Without End

    Episode 5

    Caris and Mair disembark in England to give Godwyn the King's order, but nobody notices the rats that scamper from the ship to the dock.

    After witnessing so much pointless death and destruction on the French battlefields, Caris confides to Mother Cecilia that she no longer believes in God. Merthin returns from Italy, his family having perished in the Plague now sweeping across Europe.

    Reunited with Caris he urges her to elope with him, but she refuses. Despite her rejection, Merthin remains in Kingsbridge, and that night, plague-bearing rats finally cross the bridge into town.

    The Great Mortality sweeps through Kingsbridge, and Caris turns the convent into a makeshift hospital. When Petranilla falls ill, Godwyn is so terrified that he abandons his loyal mother, sneaking out of the priory taking most of the monks and treasure with him.

    Convinced she is dying, a scarred and vengeful Petranilla sends Roland a rose infected with her diseased blood.

  • World Without End

    Episode 6

    The drama climaxes in the final instalment. Prior Saul's monastery is full of rotting bodies, but Godwyn is still alive and seemingly disease-free, though clearly insane.

    Back in Kingsbridge, no one is safe from the Plague. Petranilla's rose infects Roland even within the safety of his castle, and she hints to Ralph that he should have been Earl of Shiring.

    Ralph convinces Queen Isabella to appoint him Earl of Shiring which allows him to choose a wife. He forces Philip to accept him, but she later escapes him with devastating consequences.

    Godwyn has survived the plague and appears mad, but Petranilla succeeds in having him appointed Bishop of Kingsbridge. He immediately throws Caris out of the convent, and sentences her to be burned as a witch.

    Infuriated by Godwyn's constant abuse of power, Thomas finally reveals to Caris and Merthin his enormous secret. Convinced by Isabella that Kingsbridge is a hotbed of rebellion, Edward's army surrounds the town.

    Thomas rallies the townspeople to Kingsbridge's defence, but is it too late?

World Without End synopsis

Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley and Miranda Richardson head up the all-star cast in Ken Follett's epic sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, set in medieval England

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