Triple-bill of period dramas. 'Vanity Fair' (2004) is based on Thackeray's satirical masterpiece about the constant battle for wealth and social success amongst the aristocracy of the early nineteenth century. In a society growing rich on the wealth generated by an expanding empire, Becky Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) is the ambitious daughter of a poor family, who will let nothing stand in her way in her attempt to climb the social ladder. Taking a position as nanny to the children of Sir Pitt Crawley (Bob Hoskins), Becky insinuates her way into the family's favours and into London society, eventually marrying Crawley's eldest son Rawdon (James Purefoy). When Rawdon proves to be a gambler and a drunkard, Becky wastes no time in approaching the influential Marquess of Steyne (Gabriel Byrne), in the hope that he will help advance her position. But will Becky Sharp come to regret the ruthlessness of her agenda, and can she keep climbing the social ladder forever? Emma Thompson stars in and provides the screenplay for 'Sense and Sensibility' (1995), an adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel. Thompson plays Elinor, the eldest of sisters who are reduced in means when their father dies and his estate passes on to his son from his first marriage. Finding that their straightened circumstances affects their marriagability, the sisters are humiliated when pragmatic Elinor (Thompson) is rejected by the family of her suitor Edward (Hugh Grant), and Marianne is forced to contemplate a dull match rather than follow her passion for the dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise). Despite these setbacks and disappointments, true love does eventually find a way. Finally, in 'Shakespeare in Love' (1998), Elizabethan London's most promising young playwright, Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), is suffering from writer's block. Rose Theatre owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) is desperate that Will's new play - tentatively entitled Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter - be finished, whilst a new cast member, Thomas Kent, is equally eager to make his stage debut. Kent has a secret however: 'he' is actually Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), merchant's daughter and fiancé of Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). Adopting a disguise to enter a trade forbidden to women, matters become complicated when Will falls for her in her more conventional garb. It may take the intervention of Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench) herself to make sure the course of true love runs smoothly and that the show goes on.