Five Things You Didn’t Know About BBC’s “Howards End”

While many international productions do not achieve great popularity in the US, the British television industry has had several shows break through. Shows like Downton Abbey, for example, have become smash hits all over the world. The BBC recently premiered a miniseries that appears poised to have an incredible impact in many areas. With the first episode debuting earlier this week, Howards End has already made waves.

This four-part series may be a period piece, but it speaks to modern issues as well. Fans can look forward to thoughtful and entertaining discussions about issues like class and race in the coming episodes. For those wondering about the show, here are five things you didn’t know about Howards End.

5. It is based on a novel that is over 100 years old 

Howards End may have all the production value that one would expect from a major show in 2017, but its story has a long history. The miniseries is based on the acclaimed novel by E.M. Forster which was released in 1910. There is a good reason why this novel is still the subject of adaptations today. Often held as Forster’s greatest work, the novel was actually included in the list of “100 best English-language novels of the 20th century” by the Modern Library.

4. This is not the first adaptation 

Although this miniseries has made waves, fans should keep in mind that this is not the first adaptation of Forster’s novel. In fact, it is simply the latest in a long list of adaptations. It has been adapted for the stage, television, film, radio, and even opera. The last time Howards End was adapted for television was in 1970. With significantly better technology and the ability to reach many more people, the new miniseries has the opportunity to bring this incredible story to a much wider audience.

3. Its debut was a massive success 

Given the story, cast, and excitement behind this miniseries, its debut on November 12 came with significant expectations. Luckily, the show surpassed most of these, as it pulled in tremendous numbers of viewers. At around 7 million viewers, Howards End outperformed the typical viewership for the time slot by 2 million. In fact, this miniseries was one of BBC One’s most successful premieres all year. In addition, the critical response to the series has been exceedingly positive.

2. The premiere was not a complete success 

While the show brought in large numbers of viewers and was received very well by critics, not everyone was happy. Many people expressed their frustration at the loud background music in the show, finding it difficult to hear the dialogue. This seems to be less an issue with the show as with BBC, as this has been a recurring issue. Unfortunately, some viewers found the loud soundtrack so distracting that they have given up on the series.

1. Its success comes down to the writing

Despite some technical issues, Howards End appears to have many things going for it. The production value, acting, and pacing all appear to be wonderful. While the performances of the actors, led by Hayley Atwell, have been incredible, the true reason for the show’s success comes down to the writing. It can be tremendously difficult to deliver a story that has been adapted numerous times in a unique way. However, the work of Kenneth Lonergan (the writer of Manchester by the Sea), has breathed new life into this tired story. While there are numerous moving parts, fans should be especially thankful that an Oscar-winning writer adapted the story.


When Howards End was first published, it was a sharp and relevant reflection on the disparity between rich and poor. Today, the discussion is no less relevant. Thanks largely to the writing of Kenneth Lonergan, the new miniseries is delivering the same message in a new way. Loud background music aside, fans and critics have celebrated this miniseries as one of the finest adaptations of the iconic story.

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