The Cinder Path Edward MacFell is a prosperous Northumberland farmer with a sadistic bent. He routinely hurts and humiliates family members and workers alike. When he goes too far, he becomes the victim of a murder made to appear an accident. His mild-mannered son Charlie witnesses the crime and protects the killer in the name of friendship and justice. But there is still another witness, Ginger Slater, an embittered farm hand with blackmail on his mind. Charlie is inveigled into a disastrous marriage with Victoria Chapman, the promiscuous county belle, unaware that her sister Nellie is in love with him. Then comes the war. When Charlie tires of his sister’s carping and his wife’s infidelities, he signs up–as an enlisted man, and finds himself in the charge of a sergeant with an axe to grind: Sgt. Ginger Slater.
A highly enjoyable drama
The Cinder Path is a quite typical British TV-drama film/miniseries. It is one of those epic sorts of films that I really enjoy watching, like “Lorna Doone” or “Sharpe”. Lloyd Owen, of the “Monarch of the Glen” fame, is quite impressive here as Charlie McFell, a man who was abused by his sadistic father and when his father is murdered, he protects the killer. He now has to take charge of the family farm, which is not an easy task for the introverted Charlie.He then hastily marries Victoria, daughter from a wealthy local family who is cold and deceptive. Zeta-Jones is outstanding in this part.
The story is very well crafted and builds up to a dramatic finale. Many are likely to find inspiration in the character of Charlie and his struggle to overcome his past and become a man of integrity. Hopeless romantics will also enjoy the romance between Charlie and Nellie, Victoria’s much kinder sister.
All in all, this is as good as a BBC TV drama can get and also involves some impressively reenacted WW1 action.