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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Premiere Preview: “The Friends of English Magic” 

Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America
Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Based on the much-loved and lauded novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell tells the story of two very different magicians. As the Napoleonic Wars rage on, most people believe magic to be a dead practice. But when Mr Norrell reveals his powers, he becomes an overnight celebrity.  Enter young, handsome and daring Jonathan Strange. After becoming Norell’s apprentice, they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to dark magic, putting a strain on his relationship with Norell and everything he holds dear.

“The Friends of English Magic” synopsis, from BBC America:

1806. Magic once existed in England but it has long faded – that is until the reclusive Mr Norrell is discovered in Yorkshire. He comes to London to offer the government his services as a magician – but rising politician Sir Walter Pole refuses to align himself with such a disrespectable art. Disconsolate at his lack of success, Mr Norrell is set to return home, until news comes of the death of Sir Walter’s sickly, and wealthy, fiancée. Mr Norrell makes a dangerous pact with a mysterious Gentleman to restore her to life, proving magic respectable and establishing himself as the greatest magician in the land. Meanwhile, the charming and dissolute Jonathan Strange, more interested in drinking wine and winning the hand of the beautiful Arabella than reading dusty magical books, discovers he too has magical powers.

Meet the Characters:

Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America
Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America

Eddie Marsan‘s Mr Norrell

Mr Norrell is an intellectual, reclusive, fussy man in his fifties. Self-proclaimed as England’s greatest and only magician, he resides in Yorkshire at Hurtfew Abbey, a dark, brooding house with a beautiful magical library. With a little help from Childermass, his cunning and surly man of business, he restores magic in England, and is encouraged to help the government in the war against Napoleon.

Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America
Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America

Bertie Carvel‘s Jonathan Strange

Jonathan Strange is from Shropshire – a handsome and daring man in his thirties. He is struggling to find his occupation and still living with his father – a crabby old man named Laurence. Desperate to win the hand of his beloved Arabella, he grasps at the opportunity of becoming a magician, after a chance encounter with Vinculus, the magician of Threadneedle Street.

Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America
Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America

Charlotte Riley‘s Arabella

Arabella is a strong-willed and patient woman who also lives in Shropshire, where her brother Henry is the rector at the local parish. Pursued by the charming Jonathan Strange, she soon becomes the wife of the self-taught magician, and becomes tangled in magical happenings.

Samuel West‘s Sir Walter Pole

Sir Walter Pole is a charismatic, impressive politician in his forties. He is concerned for his fiancée, the future Lady Pole, who is very sick. He lives in London where his butler, Stephen Black, is very much in charge of the Pole household. After initially dismissing the notion that Mr Norrell can help the war, he soon becomes an advocate of English magic.

Alice Englert‘s Lady Pole

Emma Wintertowne is 19 years-old and soon to become Lady Pole. Sadly the beautiful and intelligent young woman is very sick and passes away just before her marriage to Sir Walter Pole. Mr Norrell agrees to perform a very dangerous spell to raise her back from the dead, not foreseeing the dangerous consequences on her future existence.

Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America
Photo Credit: Todd Antony/BBC America

Marc Warren‘s The Gentleman

The Gentleman with the thistle-down hair is a faerie spirit summoned by Mr Norrell to help with the spell he performed to restore Lady Pole’s life. Always susceptible to the charms of an elegant woman, he cunningly devises a contract with Mr Norrell, which has terrible consequences for the Pole household and beyond…

This 7-part miniseries premieres Saturday, June 13th at 10/9c on BBC America.

If you can’t (or don’t want to) wait until June 13th for the first episode, BBCA America has made it available now. Enjoy.

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