The Missionary. Charles W. Fortescue (Michael Palin). Copyright: Hand Made Films
The Missionary

The Missionary

  • 1983 film

Michael Palin stars as a clergyman withdrawn from Africa to save the fallen women of London's East End. Also features Maggie Smith, Trevor Howard, Denholm Elliott, Graham Crowden, David Suchet and more.

The Missionary. Charles W. Fortescue (Michael Palin). Copyright: Hand Made Films

Key details

Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Trevor Howard, Denholm Elliott, Graham Crowden, David Suchet, Michael Hordern, Phoebe Nicholls and more
Michael Palin
Richard Loncraine
Neville C. Thompson, Michael Palin, George Harrison and Denis O'Brien

It is 1906 and, having spent 10 full years in darkest Africa, Church of England missionary Charles W. Fortescue is summoned to return to England by his bishop.

After being reunited with his long-estranged fiancée, Deborah, Charles travels on to London to hear of the bishop's plans for him. In the greatest city in the world - the centre of empire, no less - there is an ever-increasing problem of degraded morality, particularly in the east end. In short: prostitution.

The bishop tasks Fortescue with establishing a mission within England itself, to save these fallen women from their lives of sin. However, the bishop also tasks Fortescue with raising the necessary funds himself, and Deborah soon sets about writing to every source of wealth in the country to appeal for donations. They soon hear back from one of the richest, a Lady Isobel Ames.

Unfortunately for Charles, his difficulties have yet to truly begin. Lady Ames quickly takes more than a little shine to him, and after struggling to attract women into the mission they establish together, he finds himself offering London's prostitutes more than he had bargained for - and certainly far more than any other church!

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Additional details

He gave his body to save their souls...
UK certificate
86 minutes
UK release
Friday 7th January 1983

Hand Made Films

Also known as
  • The Missionary Position (Working title)
Camera set-up
Single camera
Music composed and orchestrated by Mike Moran.

Website links

Broadcast details

Most recent repeats
  • Thursday 13th July 2023 at 2:30am on TPTV
  • Tuesday 21st March 2023 at 1:35am on TPTV
  • Tuesday 22nd November 2022 at 9:05pm on TPTV

Recording details

  • Lee International Studios (Shepperton)
  • Ardverikie House, Dorney (Buckinghamshire), Dorney Court, Ezra Street (London), Highclere Castle, Longleat, National Liberal Club, Scotland, Shad Thames, Wapping Steps and Kenya - Locations

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