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The Pursuit of Love on BBC1 - release date, plot, cast, trailer and what's happened so far

The Pursuit of Love
(Image credit: Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited/Robert Viglasky)

Lily James leads the cast of The Pursuit of Love, a new romantic period drama now on BBC1 and iPlayer...

The Pursuit of Love is a major new BBC1 adaptation of the Nancy Mitford classic which boasts an all-star cast including Downton Abbey’s Lily James.

Adapted by Emily Mortimer, the big production is now on BBC1 (see our TV Guide for full listings) and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and will be available on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Emily Mortimer says: “I’ve always loved Nancy Mitford so when I was asked to adapt The Pursuit Of Love it was impossible to say no. It’s an outrageously funny and honest story, whose central character - the wild, love-addicted Linda Radlett - still reads as a radical.”

The Pursuit of Love release date

The first episode of The Pursuit of Love aired on Sunday May 9 on BBC1 at 9pm. The third episode will be shown on BBC1 on Sunday May 23 at 9pm.

All three episodes are now available to watch as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. A US release date hasn't been given.

The Pursuit of Love - what’s it about?

Set in Europe between the two World Wars, the romantic comedy-drama follows the adventures of fearless Linda Radlett (Cinderella and Downton star Lily James) and her best friend and cousin Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham).

Obsessed with love and marriage, the pair are on the hunt for their ideal husband. But their friendship is rocked as Fanny decides to go for a steady life while Linda opts to follow her heart. This leads Linda down an increasingly wild path. The Beeb teases the show will pose “questions about freedom, love and sex and the mystery of the human heart”.

Talking about Linda, Lily James says: “Linda has spark, passion, fire and curiosity, but doesn't know what to do with it. Her father doesn't let the girls have an education or leave the property. But she follows her heart and tries to find herself through the men she encounters — a communist, a conservative and a wild European.”

The Pursuit of Love

Lord Merlin tries to talk some sense into Linda in episode one (Picture: Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited/Robert Viglasky) (Image credit: Theodora Films Limited & Moonage Pictures Limited/Robert Viglasky)

What happened in episode one?

The first instalment of The Pursuit of Love saw Linda and Fanny growing up dreaming of meeting their perfect man who will sweep them off their feet in a whirlwind of romance and adventure.

But while Linda, a hopeless romantic, thought of nothing but love, her cousin and best friend, Fanny, was patiently waiting to see where her life would take her.

The pair were desperate to escape Linda's domineering father, Matthew (Dominic West), and the family home... and soon they were seen breaking free thanks to some encouragement from the Radlett family's flamboyant neighbour, Lord Merlin.

Soon Linda found herself getting married to the first man she met, Tony Kroesig... but when she was found hiding in the linen cupboard with Fanny on her wedding day instead of going to her own wedding breakfast, it seems perhaps this isn't the match made in heaven she was hoping it would be.

What happened in episode two?

Episode two saw Linda and Fanny's lives travelling in very different directions. Fanny found herself living a quaint life in the country with her doting Oxford don husband, Alfred, while Linda became the centre of the party scene as a society beauty with the eccentric Lord Merlin.

While Fanny was at home striving to be the perfect wife and mother - proving herself to be nothing like her mother 'The Bolter', Linda eventually found her second marriage ended in tatters after realising her husband, Christian, was in love with another woman. But, of course, Linda wasn't destined to be alone for long, and soon she met a mysterious Frenchman who rescued her from despair at the train station, and now it looks like Linda is about to be swept off her feet once again...

Who’s in it?

Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham) The Pursuit of Love

Emily Beecham as Fanny Logan

As well as Lily James and Emily Beecham, other key cast includes The Wire’s Dominic West and Dracula’s Dolly Wells. They play Linda’s parents, Uncle Matthew and Aunt Sadie Radlett. Also appearing is Shelock’s Andrew Scott as Lord Merlin, the Radlett’s eccentric neighbour and Emily Mortimer as Fanny’s mother. While Josh star Beattie Edmondson plays Louisa Radlett.

Linda and Fanny’s love interests include Messiah’s Assaad Bouab as Fabrice de Sauveterre, Penny Dreadful’s Shazad Latif as Alfred Wincham and White House Farm’s Freddie Fox as Tony Kroesig.

The Pursuit of Love - where was it filmed?

The drama was mainly shot around the Bristol and Bath area.

Is there a trailer?

Yes! The trailer runs at just over a minute and gives a fascinating glimpse into what to expect from the series.

It's certainly lavish and dare we say it a little risqué! Yep, judging by this short clip it's the type of show you might be slightly embarrassed to watch with your nan!

The Pursuit of Love starts on Sunday May 9 on BBC1 at 9pm (see our TV Guide for full listings).