Benjamin Franklin


BENJAMIN FRANKLIN is the story of one of the most remarkable and multi-talented human beings the world has ever known. An epic yarn spanning most of the 18th century, the three-part series follows Franklin's career from humble beginnings in Boston to international superstardom: first as a scientist and revolutionary, and then as a founding father and America's first diplomat to France. Drawing upon Franklin's own writings and those of his contemporaries, performed by actors, the narrative is set against a backdrop of breathtaking events in which Franklin played a central role: the age of Scientific Discovery, the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary war and the Constitutional Convention. Surprising, moving, and full of Franklin's own wit and wisdom, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN is the exuberant portrait of a true American original.

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Episode Description


Let the Experiment Be Made

Part 1: “Let the Experiment Be Made,” charts Franklin's first 47 years (he was born in 1706), a period that saw the birth of the Enlightenment. Franklin took it to heart, writing aphorisms based on it in his “Poor Richard's Almanack” and making life easier for his fellow Philadelphians by thinking up such things as public libraries and a volunteer fire department. Then there was electricity. Richard Easton plays Franklin (Dylan Baker plays a younger Franklin).


The Making of a Revolutionary

Part 2 covers Franklin's years in England, beginning in 1757, when he was sent to London as an emissary for Pennsylvania on a mission to allow the colony to tax the Penn family's lands. Franklin arrived as an ardent admirer of the empire as well as a lover of the American colonies.


The Chess Master

“The Chess Master” follows “America's native genius,” as historian Keith Arbour calls Franklin, through the final 14 years of his life, nine of which were spent in Paris as the rebellious colonies' ambassador to France. Franklin's first goal (aside from creating the U.S. foreign service on the fly) was to secure financial and military aid. He went about doing it in the same manner as he played chess.