2002 | Talkback Productions for BBC America via BBC Films and Single Drama
Set in London’s elegant Claridge’s hotel, Almost Strangers follows the peculiar and mysterious Symon family’s three-day reunion. Like most such events, this one stretches and strains the very definition of “family.” Though all here are relatives, most are indeed “almost strangers” to one another, linked by blood, but in many cases, very little else. A tale of disturbing secrets unfolds as the tangled roots of the Symon family tree unravel. Raymond, played by Michael Gambon, his wife Esther (Jill Baker) and their son, Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen), find themselves irresistibly drawn into their family. Meeting distant and not so distant relatives for the first time, they begin to establish their positions within this richly varied group. Acting as their guide is Stephan (Anton Lester), the appointed “pedigree hunter” and archivist who unravels their entwined stories to make sense of their personal histories. His extraordinary collection of family photographs sets off a series of discoveries, which are both mysterious and disturbing. Award-winning writer/director Stephen Poliakoff, inspired by a family reunion he attended in 1996, expertly interweaves stories from the past and present to create a drama filled with humor, joy and pain. Producer John Chapman brings to life the idea of discovering one’s roots—our only tangible symbol of immortality. Executive produced by Peter Fincham, David M. Thompson and Liz Barron, Almost Strangers receives a Peabody Award for providing us with one of the most riveting examples of storytelling — and one of the most intriguing explorations of family relations — to appear on television.