Bill Nighy – Lord Sandwich – Longitude
An outgrowth of a 1999 BBC documentary, the two-part British miniseries Longitude goes out on a creative limb by unfolding two parallel stories, each separated from the other by some 200 years. In one of the plot lines, Michael Gambon (who won one of the series’ many BAFTA awards) stars as real-life 18th century clockmaker John Harrison, whose invention of a “marine chronometer” would ultimately serve as the primary navigational guide for sailors of his era — but not without a lot of sacrifice and frustration on Harrison’s part. The second continuity takes place in the immediate post-WWI era, as Royal Navy officer (and shellshocked war veteran) Rupert Gould (Jeremy Irons) battles bureaucracy and ignorance to reinstate Harrison’s longitudinal clocks for modern-day Naval use. As the action hopscotches between the two story lines, Harrison painstakingly assembles his chronometer and attempts to promote the device to the unresponsive powers-that-be, while Gould tries to carry on Harrison’s work without losing his sanity in the process. Based on the book by Dava Sobel, Longitude was originally telecast over Britain’s Channel 4 on January 2 and 3, 2000, then was seen in America courtesy of the A&E cable network.