Another of those brilliant, perfect BBC series -- "The Glittering Prizes" -- opens Monday at 9 p.m. on Channel 26 with the first of six episodes.
Frederic Raphael's partly autobiographical story follows some Cambridge University students from the '50s through the '70s, and thoug each part is self-contained, the characters tend to reappear.
It is so British: Cambridge, with its ancient stones, the punts on the river, the willows, and the inevitable country house where Jewish Adam Morris (Tom Conti) visits the anti-Semitic, titled family of his roommate -- these scenes somehow give us insights into the British character itself.
We watch its formation as youths learn the motions of bening a don: Literraly, how to pontificate from an easy chair, how to take meals, how to behave in the kinds of situations a don would be apt to meet. We also get, from Elizabeth Spriggs, a finely wrought view of an aristocratic mother coping with the fact that her son is dying.
The opening 80-minute story is visually a pleasure and, in the style of the BBC, completely fascinating as, from an off-handed and slow start, it involves us more and more deeply in the lives of these people, their sexual discoveries, their bigotry and hatefulness, their self-delusions and their loving gestures made in the face of bitterness.
There is more accurate dialogue, more authentic feeling, more human reality in an hour of this than in a month of daytime soaps.