Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The elaborate British miniseries Shoulder to Shoulder was an anecdotal dramatization of the women's suffrage movement in England. Covering the period from the 1890s to the end of WWI, the series focused on the movement's most vocal proponent, Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst (Sian Phillips). As Emmeline's militancy increased, her fervor spilled over to her daughters, Christabel (Patricia Quinn) and Sylvia (Angela Down), much to the delight of her husband, pioneering feminist barrister Richard Pankhurst. With the founding of the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903, Mrs. Pankhurst and her chief lieutenant Lady Constance Lytton (Judy Parfitt) shifted into full gear, despite the efforts of patronizing politicians and surprising brutal police officials to stifle the pro-vote movement. The series was unsparing in its accuracy, with its stark portrayal of the bitter rift between sisters Sylvia and Christabel over the latter's disenchantment with the increasingly violent activities of the W.S.P.U., its disturbing depiction of the force-feeding methods used by the police to quell a hunger strike, and its gruesome reenactment of activist Emily Davison's suicidal act of bravado during a horse race (a tragedy recorded by newsreel photographers of the period). Originally telecast by the BBC in 1974, the six-part Shoulder to Shoulder premiered in the United States on October 5, 1975, as part of the PBS Masterpiece Theatre anthology.