User Reviews (23)

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  • ... why 'Breathless' garnered such poor reviews and such poor scoring on IMDb.

    The direction was beautifully fluent, not a moment lost.

    The plot line was perhaps a little crazy at times, but kept me guessing till the end.

    The sets and the costumes were sumptuous to the eye ...

    And the acting was superb. I was going to say, particularly from Jack Davenport as Otto and Catherine Steadman as Angela, but then I remembered how superb also were Natasha Little as Elizabeth, Oliver Chris as Truscott, Shaun Dingwall as Enderbury, Iain Glenn as Mulligan - not to speak of Joanna Page as the increasingly complex Lily Enderbury. In fact, the acting and the script combined to create real people, characters of complexity, not the usual wooden-tops so often found in TV dramas.

    And rather than meander on and on as so many serials like to do nowadays, the whole thing wound up beautifully in six episodes.

    If there was any justice, 'Breathless' would top this year's BAFTAs list!
  • srobinsondo7 September 2014
    This show is something completely different and refreshing, finally in a world where everything feels like a rehash of what's been done. It has unfair comparisons to Mad Men because it is set in the sixties, but those who say that obviously didn't bother to watch it. The sophisticated plot explores what it is like to be a woman and a man reproducing in a world of limited options and the moral choices OB/GYN's and their colleagues had to face in that world. From birth control and abortion to treating menopause with lithium, the show touches on many topics most networks treat as taboo. The story is very compelling and, considering its cancellation, too much for its producers to handle.
  • suze-hedges13 November 2013
    In the first instance I likened this to Twiglets not sure if I liked it or not but I just had to keep going back for more and more. But by the end of episode one I was totally hooked and have been totally addicted and am desperately hoping for a second series.

    It has perfectly captured the essence of the era and yes other Doctor TV series made at that time, so much so I felt I should be perched on a chair with my TV aerial trying to get a good picture.

    It has made a refreshing change from the usual "period drama" yes of course it will be compared to Mad Men, even Emergency Ward 10 and other sixties doctor series but I for one see nothing wrong with this and look forward to enjoying more of this first rate series.
  • blanche-25 October 2014
    Recently caught this on PBS and enjoyed it, although I was miffed that ITV canceled it, so we were left with many loose ends.

    Probably inspired by Mad Men, this 2013 series takes place in '60s London, pre-Carnaby Street, and concerns two sisters, Angela (Catherine Steadman) and Jean (Zoe Boyle), both nurses, their family, husbands, lovers, and their lives at the New London Hospital.

    The women work in the hospital along with the elegant highly respected surgeon, Dr. Powell (Jack Davenport), his close associate Charlie (Shaun Dingwell), and a young, ambitious surgeon, Richard Truscott (Oliver Chris).

    The striking Jean is engaged to Truscott. She's pregnant, which he knows, but she tries to keep other elements of her lower middle-class life quiet. After all, what did nurses want in those days but to marry a doctor. One of the things she keeps quiet about is her demented father. Angela is married to Joe, whom the service has declared missing, and she's attracted the interest of the married Dr. Powell. Powell has a wife (Natasha Little) and a son. Because they're both married, Angela doesn't want to get involved with him.

    Powell's wife starts hearing from a sinister police Inspector Mulligan (Iain Glen), and we find out that something happened long ago that has impacted the lives of Elizabeth, her husband, and Charlie. Mulligan clearly wants to blackmail her about it.

    This is a prime time soap opera, so you have to like that genre. The series shows the male-dominated medical field, the fact that the wife was expected to quit her job once she got married, and that most women were husband-hunting. It also deals with illegal abortions, which Drs. Powell and Dingwell conduct so that women won't die from bad procedures. One woman in the story found out her husband was having an affair and went off the deep end. Her husband took her to a doctor, and she was given a lot of medication for menopause, including Librium. Jean goes on the pill. So there are a lot of women's issues covered.

    After Jean gets married, she stays home. She's shown attempting to cook. It just seemed like such a huge buildup to a wedding and then she's alone all day in an apartment doing work she really doesn't want to do. One night she goes out to help with an illegal abortion and lies to her husband, saying she went to the theatre. He isn't happy because it's so late when she arrives home. It's one thing if you have a child or children, and/or being a homemaker is something you enjoy and wanted to do. But Jean lied about what she really wanted so that she could marry a doctor. She misses her job and her friends.

    I read some comments about the '60s clothes - I don't really remember much about the early '60s. I do remember when the Cleopatra big eye makeup came in. I thought for the most part the women looked appropriate. Angela sported a flip hairdo, and Zoe sometimes wore her hair up. There was teased hair. Zoe attends a funeral at the end wearing an Audrey Hepburn get-up. Everybody smoked.

    The acting is very good from everyone. Not mentioned yet is Charlie's wife (Joanna Page), a somewhat dowdy looking woman who wants a baby. She was excellent in the role of a woman who puts a brave face on unhappiness and seems on the silly side. On the other hand, that's the "role" she plays in her life.

    I would definitely have watched another season; sorry it was canceled.
  • This is an awesome series. It has a slow build, but it's well worth the wait (big reveal). There is a lot of suspense and surprisingly, romance. It has good character development. They are not one dimensional and they all have heart. It was beautifully shot. It has great costuming (think Mad Men) and music. The actors are real pros. It has riveting dialog. The ending leaves it open for another season. I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop should they decide to make a second season. I don't understand the negative reviews for Breathless on IMDb; were we watching the same show? I went into watching this series without knowing anything about it. I happen to watch Masterpiece Theatre on PBS and am a big fan of mystery. I can understand why people might think this show is not a mystery based on episode 1, which is why I said it's a slow build. Quite a bit of time is spent setting up for episodes 2 and 3. If you can be patient, I do think it's worth it based on the things I said above.
  • I loved Breathless, it left me wanting to see more as I watched each episode. It is set in the 1960's and the sets and outfits are well researched and beautifully put together.

    The story revolves around Otto, played by Jack Davenport, as the story unfolds we find out that Otto has a dark secret from the past. This secret gradually unravels throughout the series and entwines the other characters.

    The acting is fantastic from the whole cast, and the series gives us an in site in to life in the 1960's. We get to see the attitudes of the time and the different roles of the time for both men and woman. I just hope that ITV make a second series.
  • I loved this show, I just don't understand why there were only 6 episodes. I really hope they make another series. To the reviewer who thinks Zoe Boyle is playing 2 parts, she's not, Nurse Wilson is another Actress altogether. I also agree that there is a look of Mad Men about it, but that's because it's set in the same era and too be fair Otto Powell is far better than Don Draper, who in my opinion is a conceited womanising dolt. All in all this is a very good show and I can only hope it will return, although I felt really sorry for Otto at the end, he was well and truly trapped. With all of the reality rubbish on TV now days, it's refreshing to see something like this. Brilliant from start to finish.
  • murray-allison9416 November 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    I thought it was rather good. Undoubtedly the best thing about it was the period detail. The performance by Zoe Boyle was quite something as well. I think I was 4 episodes in before I realised she was playing two parts. As Nurse Wilson I thought she rather resembled Natalie Wood. Obviously the story was pretty daft. The mcguffin is the car accident 9years ago. It was serious, somebody died, but it's influence over the lives of those who didn't is nevertheless disproportionate. I'd say that style and the performances of all involved, particularly the main two protagonists, made it a success. I'd like to see another series. Does this make ten lines?
  • Pros - Fashions are interesting if not always accurate.

    Cons - I prefer to know what the mystery is supposed to be when watching or reading a mystery. Three hours into this and the two hints at Cyprus aren't enough. Is it about Cyprus? Isn't it about Cyprus? Who did something at Cyprus? What did someone do at Cyprus? Should we hate them for it or love them for it? Should we understand? Should we be appalled?

    This program is mind-numbingly dull. If I don't know what the mystery is 3 hours in, there's not much chance I'll be watching the other 12 hours to see if I can figure out what it is I'm supposed to be figuring out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In a desperate attempt to attract the audience for "Mad Men","Breathless"has the shiny,newly - minted look beloved of re - imaginings of what was in fact a dull,grey era. Set in the early 1960s before the concept of The "Swinging Sixties" was invented,this new ITV series is nothing more or less yet another hospital soap - albeit one with pretensions and a higher than average budget. Here we have the usual deep dark secrets,unwanted pregnancies,illicit affairs,saintly,overworked nurses and libidinous doctors that have been staple fare since "Doctor in the house" and "Emergency Ward 10". The makers point out that "Breathless" presents a 21st century view of the inequities of the sexual politics of the time but that is mostly nonsense.What "Breathless" in fact presents is the same old same old obsession with sexual and medical matters dressed up in retro clothing that actually none of the cast looks at all comfortable in. It's as if they were attending a 1950's weekend at Butlin's and can't wait to get into their everyday clothes as soon as possible. One can only guess how many doctors and nurses programmes there are on TV,and we needed another one like my grannie needed a chocolate teapot. I am happy watching "Holby City" and "Casualty" because they are what they are and I don't feel someone is conning me that they are high art which is exactly the feeling I get from "Breathless".
  • terrement25 August 2014
    I watched the first hour and a half on Masterpiece Mystery last night. Why it is considered a mystery is a mystery to me. Certainly a "period piece", "soap opera" or "melodrama" are better as categories. The presentation / cinematography is good, and the series has a good period feel to it.

    The story thrusts you into scenes without any development of the characters before that, and interactions between individuals appear to have a back-story or may be important in the future, but you don't have a clue as to why. Most of the characters are difficult to either like or with whom to identify. Parts of the plot feel forced and heavy handed where the point could have been made without the audience being beaten over the head with it. This far in, I'd expect to have a better framing, direction and character development.

    Having wasted ninety minutes already, I'll try to watch to the end just to see if it makes any sense at the end whatsoever. Unlike other period pieces PBS has shown (Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, Mr Selfridge, etc. this one has done nothing for me. Your view may differ just as some of the reviews have. But if you had not yet seen this and asked for a recommendation from me, I'd recommend something else instead.
  • As if 'Call the Midwife' wasn't bad enough, 'Breathless' is a prime time soap opera about the dysfunctional sex lives of doctors and nurses set just before the Profumo scandal turned post war Britain upside down. The story is slow and dull. The costumes are way overdone and too lurid, as are the ghastly hair dyes and crimson lipstick. Melodrama follows melodrama as a sleazy trio of surgeon, anesthetist and nurse go out at night to perform illegal abortions, that is when they are not cheating on their spouses/fiances. There is an obsessed Chief Inspector blackmailing a surgeon's wife over something that happened in Cyprus nine years ago, we are not told what. She should have told her husband the first time he approached her and reported him to his superiors. A respected surgeon would have had enough clout to be heard.

    I really don't think the show captures the times very well. I was in my 20's then so I can remember it well. Having struggled through the first and part of the second episode, I will not be bothering with the rest. Time for PBS to get back to what it is best at.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you waste your time with this lousy soap opera you deserve to be totally disappointed. Who wrote this? Clarance the clown? It is bad. It is really bad. It is that bad. Repeat, this is crummy, lousy and bad. Luckily I had it on DVR and could fast forward through this garbage to see if any smidgen of worth would appear. It did not. This isn't the actors fault. The fault is with the persons who wrote this despicable script. Unwin and Grimesdale. Mark those down and never watch anything they write. Grime for Grimesdale. Geez what tripe. Oh, poor Tommy. Oh, poor old daddy. Oh, a marriage to make up for a night of drinking. Oh, a desperate Chief Inspector who is in reality a dirt bag. Oh, another doctor cheating on his wife only to see his mistress expire to cancer. Oh, a doctor who breaks the law on some personal principle. Oh, another doctor who can't let loose and take a great job offer while his blowzy wife is left in the dark. Geez, could it get any worse. Yes, it can and does in the end which I won't give away if you are crazy enough to waste your time with this sad sack joke of a soap opera.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This may not really be a spoiler. However, the series seemed to end abruptly with no resolution. The setting and period are rich in detail. Characters and themes deserve the time for greater development. I would like to see this series returned and completed to its fullest.

    I liked this series for the immersion into the mid-century era.

    Costuming, interiors, protocols, family and professional life all seemed to be accurately presented. The visual presentation, the tone and pace have a convincing reality that moves me to fascination. The accuracy of this series is all believable.

    Even with the setting in the UK, it evoked American culture of the 60's, too.

    Human challenges and successes are portrayed with angst and with satisfaction. There is one scene of violence that I found disturbing. However, if the series were to be completed, that would give time for resolution. There is always the possibility that this period drama can evolve for decades.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A fine production this is, set in an interesting period, creating a fine sense of time and place. Good dialog and acting throughout but something's missing. Ah yes, the fact that while it's broadcast as Masterpiece Mystery, there's hardly any mystery involved. The ones that are present aren't very interesting, either. I agree with the reviewer who pointed out this is hard to watch. Aside from the fact that not a lot goes on, the patriarchy and misogyny of the time is quite appalling. This belongs in the category with "Mad Men" and "Masters of Sex". If you're expecting a dandy whodunit, best look elsewhere, say at Poirot's or Miss Marple's doorstep.
  • JonathanWalford4 February 2017
    I really think this series was developed as a rip off of Mad Men. Unfortunately, it is an exceedingly BORING attempt. It seems the only thing they really tried to change was the venue -- it takes place in an English hospital instead of a New York advertising agency. Another problem is that the viewer is thrown into the story line with far too many characters being introduced right off the bat and little character development. You feel like you have been dropped into the middle of the story and must have missed something important, like a previous episode. It's nice to know that the Brits aren't any better at adapting successful American shows than Americans are at adapting successful British shows.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A stylish, involving series with suspense and mystery - beautiful sets and costumes, perfect lighting and sound and brilliantly acted - is betrayed by an atrocious ending that makes you wonder whether the screenwriters understand any thing about the times in which the characters live.


    Throughout the 6 hour series set in the first half of the 1960s, one wonders why the protagonist (played by Jack Davenport, best known for either Pirates of the Carribbean or the TV series Coupling) playing a wealthy and arrogant surgeon and a night-time abortionist for hire - treats his beautiful wife Elizabeth like an utter stranger at home and when they go out - but dotes on his son. The answer given suddenly - sprung from the blue - in the last hour - is utterly ludicrous. Years before, when in the Army in Cyprus - his heavy drinking crashed a car he was driving with Elizabeth and her then soldier fiance as passengers. The soldier fiance was killed - Elizabeth and he survived the crash. Elizabeth was pregnant and the baby survived also. Davenport's character says "As you know, she could hardly return to England pregnant and alone because her fiance was killed - without having been married! her family, her friends would all shun her throughout her lifetime - she'd never get a job. So I married her to avoid the complete shame and pledged to dedicate my life to raise the son and show myself as her husband to the outside world."

    First, the screenwriters seem to think they're writing about a cloistered nun in the year 1250 not a sophisticated woman in the 1950s. NEVER in the history of Britain had there been so many pregnant widows of soldiers, pregnant fiances of soldiers killed, pregnant girlfriends of soldiers killed than in the 1940s - due to the War. Attitudes toward having sex with a soldier after they were engaged but before they were married - had changed utterly from the 1800s - and the likelihood of his death was higher than at any time in British history. There were MILLIONS of women in her situation - they were not shunned throughout life!

    Second, men responsible for a death due to drunken driving - were never as lightly treated as in the 1950s - particularly compared to today. So to have one of the primary plots be a blackmail by someone that he'll reveal the decades old drunken driving episode - is again ABSURD! And this is finally resolved by the davenport character saying "Who cares? go ahead and tell others" but only after - again INCREDIBLY, the beautiful Elizabeth has felt she had to have sex with the blackmailer! It's just laughable.

    Third, the wife of one of the surgeons refuses even to inform her father she's getting married because under no circumstances can her husband learn that her father is working class and a bit doddering - thus she creates a story that her entire family is dead - even as she secretly visits her father to see if he's ok.

    The warmth, forgiveness, human understanding of the 1950s-1960s obviously far surpasses today where all are polarized and far more judgmental. A period where all knew what had happened at home during the Second World War - was one with a greater degree of indulgence for individual mistakes. Social hierarchies had been much altered during the War as well - and by the early 1960s one saw routinely - those from the working class making strides in every field - indeed after the 1964 election, Edward Heath (father a carpenter) had become the leader of the Conservative Party!

    This series - so beautifully acted - becomes a disaster when one realizes that it reflects yet more patronizing attitudes about an earlier time - by writers so smug and yet ignorant - that they're certain that all before them was benighted.
  • karen-loethen14 November 2019
    Why is there not more? I WANT MORE!

    Jack Davenport is the Dan Draper of the gynecology ward and his gorgeous wife, ethereal and lovely, lives a life with her own secrets. The intrigue and drama was wonderful. I loved the music. I loved the clothing. I loved the sets. I loved the automobiles. I loved it.

    I wish there was more.
  • With a stellar cast and a story line set in the romanticized 1960s, I was all set to watch! I will admit, the first episode starts off a little slow, but very quickly, I became hooked. The plot builds and thickens as each episode progresses. The characters are well thought out and written with many layers and realistic flaws. The true attitudes of the time period are shown for the good, bad, and ugly that they were. I appreciated the realness of it.

    I felt this show would have absolutely taken off in seasons 2 and 3. There was so much potential here. Especially with some of the new characters introduced in the later episodes. The writers were planning for the future seasons. Heartbroken I could not watch more of their work.

    Very much enjoyed the episodes that were created. Am left to use my imagination to dream what happens to all the delightfully well written characters. Perhaps someday some producer will look back at the potential of this show and re-gather the cast for a take 2. Probably not, but hey, a girl can dream, right? ;)

    If you're looking for a very enjoyable, albeit very quick, binge watch, I cannot suggest a show more!
  • thrall73 September 2014
    This period drama does well on costumes and sets, and that's about it. The story lines are convoluted - and there are way too many of them. The supposed mysterious background of the main character isn't very interesting, nor are any of the other story lines. The multiple layers aren't done well. Had the writers focused on one or two things, maybe this would have been better. Sadly, a pretty talented cast is left with some pretty mediocre stuff to work with. Additionally, the mess of multiple plot lines has caused me to lose interest in pretty much everyone in the story. For the most part, the characters aren't very interesting, or likable. I'm left with the distinct impression that the producers saw the success of "Mad Men" and tried to come up with a similar period piece to capitalize on it. Put simply, they failed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Oh,dear! This is a hospital drama, a pot-boiler and a page-turner, with doctors, and nurses, and the promise of a deep secret worth keeping. HOWEVER, after much wordy dialogue, and knowing glances, and beautiful costumes, and zippy cars, and the drama of "women's problems," and "the hospital ward," and "sex out of wedlock," we are left with just about zero.

    The cast included many competent actors including a number from Downton Abbey. Zoe Boyle, Catherine Steadman, and Iain Glen (in DA as Lavinia Swire, Mable Lane Fox, and Sir Richard Carlisle) moved from the heights of DA to this underachieving effort. Jack Davenport, Shaun Dingwall, Natasha Little, Oliver Chris and Joanna Page were all faithful to their "Breathless" characters, while Finbar Lynch and Pippa Hayward were completely wasted. The cast was aided by impressive costumes (although, having everyone embrace the same "stage" of 60's attire did seem a bit extreme; some of them should have been a bit more stuck in the 50s and not so eager to jump headlong into the 60s, but it certainly set a structured modern tone). Also, there was a salute to personal automobiles and the "reality" that doctors were a class who could afford to own snazzy little sports cars. There is a scene where Otto ardently (with obvious leers) tries to give Angela a ride home, but she clearly prefers the discomfort of the bus to being seen riding in a married doctor's fast car.

    The beginning contained a frenzy of "set ups," with personal relationships, doctor/patient relationships, husband/wife relationships, doctor/nurse relationships, but then obvious questions set in. How could the "top docs" continue to keep their (illegal) "abortion on demand at home" lucrative business a secret when they traveled in such obvious medical style with doctors bags, a nurse, an anesthetist, and tanks of oxygen, etc. And, if the abortions were so noticeable, then what could their DEEP secret be? The disappointment came full bore at the end because the quick and easy "tying up of loose threads" was so pathetically convenient and ultra PC (politically correct)that it RUINED the entire experience. The setting (costumes, cars, hospital wards, apartments, casserole dishes, eyeglasses, and eye shadow) was early 1960s but the forced conclusions were strictly 2010!

    In fact, the deep secret was something that could have been easily resolved by the four people involved. Changes in character at the end? A guy who seemed afraid of his own shoelaces committed a violent act that was completely irrational. Angela's mysteriously lost husband? He reappears but is such a zero he should have stayed lost. The conclusion was silly; a "PC" ending that lacked reality, or imagination, and was an insult to our intelligence! NO WONDER it was canceled!
  • All these actors/actresses were previously unknown to me. Joanna Page appears in other online photographs to be considerably thinner than she appeared to be in this series. Her upper arms looked as if she really was very heavy. The choice of dresses, the eyeglasses and the hairstyle added to the illusion of weight. Did she put on weight for this role or was she just padded?
  • The story is crap - I mean no two pieces work- no chemistry, no consistency and no strain on any of the actors skill - they tried to hard without success