The storyline of The Prime Minister centres on two men, Plantagenet Palliser, whose difficulties as Prime Minister are bought about by his moral scruples, and Ferdinand Lopez, who suffers from a lack of morality. The final episode encompasses the last novel in the series, The Duke’s Children.
The Prime Minister and The Duke’s Children
Four years have passed and a Coalition Government is formed with Planty as Prime Minister. Ferdinand Lopez tries to win the favour of the Pallisers and of Abel Wharton, whose daughter Emily he wishes to marry.
Glencora disobeys Planty and encourages Lopez to stand for the Palliser pocket borough of Silverbridge. Lopez secures Abel Wharton’s consent to marry Emily. Frank Tregear and Lady Mary are attracted.
Silverbridge meets and is attracted to Lady Mabel Grex. Lopez is defeated at Silverbridge when Planty publicly disowns any influence in the borough, but Planty feels honour bound to pay Lopez’s expenses. Lopez sells this story to Quintus Slide and also extorts money from Abel Wharton when Emily becomes pregnant.
To get more money from Abel Wharton, Lopez promises to leave Emily and go to a job in Guatemala. The publication of his story about the Silverbridge election leads to a debate in which Phineas Finn defends Planty by discrediting Lopez, so the Guatemala job falls through. Lopez is ruined, and Planty is blamed.
Plantagenet resigns. Lady Mary and Frank Tregear get engaged secretly. Silverbridge is turned down by Lady Mabel Grex, but Planty approves of this match. Silverbridge is also attracted towards Isabel Boncassen.
To Planty’s distress, Silverbridge goes into Parliament as a Conservative. Gerald is later sent down from Cambridge for playing truant to see the race. Let in on the secret of Mary’s engagement to Frank, Glencora promises to soften Planty for the news, but is struck down with a chill.
Plantagenet’s children’s problems are now in his hands and he gets Gerald a place at Oxford. Silverbridge proposes to Isabel, but she only accepts on condition that his father approves. Planty favours Mabel Grex, however, and disapproves of Lady Mary’s love for Frank Tregear. It is only when he discovers the wish of Glencora that he accepts his children’s own choices and looks forward to rejoining his Liberal colleagues in office.
© British Broadcasting Corporation 1974. The Pallisers Radio Times Special