Across the Lines

There are many sides to a story...

10 PART ORIGINAL SERIES

Created by Rebecca Fuller-Campbell

Across the Lines is an intimate portrait of love and loss, of friendship and family, and of bonds that remain unbreakable despite an ocean and a lifetime testing their strength.

It is a story of love, of acceptance, of forgiveness and most of all of Hope.
 

History Professor Hope Mdluli has spent her entire life trying to find where she fits. Growing up coloured in a black community was never easy. As the daughter of Grace Mdluli an honoured member of the community, vocal, proud and a well-known activist, Grace has spent her life hearing about roots, that is aside of the truth about her own.

Hope doesn’t know who her father is and Grace says it is better she keeps it that way. The community has stories, often hushed from Hope who no stranger to stories from the past assumes the worst, some cop or solider. It can be the only reason her mother is silent on the subject all these years.

Grace is getting older and finally decides to give up her precious home in Soweto and move in with Hope and her children. During the move, Hope finds a box of letters and pictures from a man in California. The letters are from a Jack Hope.

Hope discovers her mother has known where her father - Dr Charlie Hope - has been for her entire life. The revelation causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her identity.

Across the Lines is a drama series about family and the invisible bonds that bind us.

The series follows Hope, Grace, Charlie & Jack’s lives over several decades between Johannesburg and San Francisco. The series paints our characters’ lives on a canvas of historical moments, political upheavals, an aids epidemic, evolving music scenes, the freeing of Mandela and of two countries divided by an ocean, but both a melting pot of cultural and societal change.

 

From 1970’s to present day the series reveals the relationship that led to Hope’s birth, the pain and suffering her parents went through to be together, the losses they endured and the political backdrops of their diverse lives.

 

Anchored in the present day the series moves seamlessly back and forth between the past and the present, and between South Africa and America as Hope tries to piece together her family's past. Hope now a mother must decide whether she understands the history she teaches, whether she can forgive her mother and if she can accept a father she has never known.

PRESENT DAY

Hope Mdluli has finally managed to convince her mother Grace to come and live with her in the Northern Suburbs of Gauteng. It has not been easy to convince her to leave Soweto. Her whole life Grace has been fiercely independent, always fighting for something or someone, but now in her 60s she has decided to – what Hope calls it – “settle down” and wants to be with Hope and Hope’s children.

Whilst they are packing, Hope finds a box of letters and pictures. The letters mostly from California are neatly handwritten, they appear to be from the same person. The pictures span decades and feature two men, brothers. Hope is curious and asks her mother what they are but Grace doesn’t want to discuss them. She quickly packs the box along with her beloved records, old newspaper cuttings, books and prize possessions.

 

Hope is about to discover the box holds the story to who she really is. The photographs are of her father Charlie, and his brother Jack.

Dr Charlie Hope MD works at the San Francisco Medical Centre specialising in Paediatric Cancer. Charlie has recently moved in with his terminally ill older brother Jack and his husband Michael.

Charlie has a daughter Sophie in her late 30s and two grandchildren Emily and Noah. Charlie’s wife died when Sophie was very young and he has never remarried. Charlie focuses his life on his family and helping children with cancer. Over the years Charlie has saved many children. Some former patients now visit him with children of their own.

Jack needs a lot of care, although he is too stubborn to admit it. Jack is still chasing stories and insists on being taken out daily to keep in touch with the world.

Jack has had a way with stories his entire life and some days it’s hard to tell where real life begins and the story ends. Michael and Charlie encourage it, they have always loved Jacks stories.

One night Jack is telling Michael a story when Charlie comes to join them. Michael explains it is a beautiful story about two lovers who are not meant to be together, a Romeo and Juliet. As soon as Charlie hears this and the name Grace his mind races with images of the woman he loved over 40 years ago back in South Africa.

 

JOHANNESBURG 1976

It’s 1976 and Johannesburg is the beating heart of South Africa with Jazz, Motown, and Rock pumping through its veins.

Medical student Charlie Hope’s already conflicted mind is thrown further turmoil when his charismatic, writer brother Jack, introduces him to a group of women activists including a particular beauty Grace Mdluli and despite himself Charlie is smitten.

Jack intends to write some articles covering an organisation gaining momentum called the Black Women’s Federation. Fraternising with Grace and her friends is illegal and Charlie having just returned from Angola on conscription knows first-hand what the authorities will do to those considered conscientious objectors.

 

Charlie doesn’t want Jack to get involved but from the second he meets Grace, her passion coupled with his brother’s soon finds him attending secret clubs and meetings just to see her.

 

Grace has also fallen for Charlie, she knows her father would put his own daughter in jail if he ever found out she was seeing a white man. Her father a policeman under the regime will only follow the rules, even if it means he has to see his own people suffer.

Thabiso, Grace’s 12 year old brother covers for Grace, the woman who has raised him, while circumstance has seen his own mother raise white children on the other side of the line.

Grace and Charlie’s obsession with each other sees them risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to be together. As the tension builds towards the Soweto Uprising of June 16th 1976, neither imagine that their love and their actions will result in the death of Grace’s innocent brother Thabiso.

Following a tragic accident Charlie and his brother Jack flee to the US where Charlie battles to deal with Thabiso’s death, the loss of his love and the discovery that Grace was pregnant. Both Charlie and Jack throw themselves into their new lives and work as a way to leave their past behind them.

Jack’s need for story soon finds him in San Francisco covering the emerging stories of an emerging disease called AIDS. In San Francisco Jack finds the love of his life Michael. Charlie who now works in paediatrics warns Jack of the heartbreak he will be afforded for loving outside was is considered normal.

Back in South Africa Grace rises through the ranks of the Black Women’s Federation as she hides being a mother. Grace who ignores Charlie and Jacks letters finally writes to Jack and pleads with him that he tells Charlie that his child died. Grace is too scared of what will become of them if he returns to look for her. Jack never gives up hope that Grace will change her mind continues to write and send photographs of Charlie, in order that one day his daughter may know who he is.

 

In present day South Africa, a society scarred with the legacy of the apartheid system, and the profound impact of a past riddled with violence and oppression, 44 year old Hope Mdluli confronts her mother Grace over a box of old pictures and letters. Who are they from and why does she have them?

Hope is devastated by the revelation that the letters are from her uncle and that her mother has always known who her father is, and worse where he is. This new knowledge challenges everything she thought she knew about her identity. How is it possible her mother has hidden her father from her for her entire life?

 

As Grace tries to reconcile with her daughter and to come to terms with a past that haunts her, Jack must tell Charlie and Michael the secret about Grace and Hope he has kept for a lifetime.  

 

As Charlie faces saying goodbye to his brother Jack in California and whether he can forgive his secret, he must decide whether to tell Sophia about Hope.

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