The Jewel in the Crown was based on a quartet of acclaimed novels by the British writer Paul Scott and told the interwoven stories of colonial officers and their families living in India as the empire collapsed around them. It aired over fourteen weeks on PBS's Masterpiece Theater, from December 1984 to March 1985, and arrived in the midst of a golden age of television that included groundbreaking miniseries such as The Thorn Birds (ABC, 1983) and Brideshead Revisited (ITV, 1981). The new British import produced by Granada Television became a critical and cultural sensation–the definition of appointment television. One in nine Americans with a television set tuned in, over several months, as it transported audiences to the unseen exotic landscapes of India and the twilight of the British Raj. Qureshi reflects on this series thirty years after it first aired on American television, and finds it unexpectedly subversive, sly, and prescient.

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