This star-studded dramatisation of Noel Streatfeild's classic novel picked up strong critical acclaim last Christmas. Now being repeated, the drama is a glorious confection to savour, especially for female viewers. The strong cast includes Emilia Fox, Victoria Wood, Emma Watson, Eileen Atkins, Marc Warren and Richard Griffiths.
Set in 1930s London, it tells the uplifting story of three unrelated orphans (pictured). Pauline (Watson), Petrova (Yasmin Paige) and Posy Fossil (Lucy Boynton) are adopted by eccentric explorer Professor Brown - known as "Gum" (Griffiths) - and raised as sisters by his selfless niece, Sylvia (Fox).
When the three girls are small, however, Gum goes missing for more than a decade. Despite stalwart help from old retainer Nana (Wood), Sylvia struggles to make ends meet. Suffering from failing health, she decides to take in lodgers. Sprightly academics Dr Smith (Harriet Walter) and Dr Jakes (Gemma Jones) are soon joined by dance teacher Theo Dane (Lucy Cohu) and sweet, melancholy Mr Simpson (Warren). Their arrival changes the family's lives forever.
Pauline, Petrova and Posy are enrolled in theatre school, and put to work on the stage. This suits ambitious Pauline, who wants to act, and feisty Posy, who dreams of ballet stardom. But Petrova, steadfast and loving, longs for a career as an aviator, and suffers great frustration and disappointment.
The sisters' early vow to "put their names in the history books" becomes a promise to keep the family together - at all costs. Their adventures prove magical, funny and moving. Their lives in showbusiness are shot through with triumph, but hearts are broken and hard lessons learnt before Gum returns and ensures a happy ending for the Fossils.