1 9 7 5 (UK)
13 x 60 minute episodes
This £2 million, 13-part biopic from ATV was ITV’s major triumph for 1975. Arguably the first royal soap, the series looked closely at the life and loves of the Prince and also focused on the personality of the great Queen herself and other members of the royal family.
With scenes filmed within Osborne House, Sandringham and St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, by permission of the present Queen, the series was much applauded for its attention to detail, production techniques and the performances of the lead actors.
Annette Crosbie won BAFTA’s best actress award for her portrayal of Queen Victoria from a young girl to the aged, disgruntled pudding in black, though her efforts during the death scene were not helped by the dog hired to play the Queen’s old darling!
The white Pomeranian fell ill so the makeup department had to dye the fur of a substitute brown dog. It ended up with sticky unpleasant-looking tufts.
Worse, every time Annette stretched out her hand to touch it and it was required to lie still and give a last baleful glance at its dying mistress, it playfully rolled on its back exposing its belly to the camera.
In lesser roles, Charles Sturridge did well as the adolescent Prince of Wales, a difficult task, when he must have been aware that we were all the time waiting for him to turn into Timothy West, while Deborah Grant had some charming moments as the young Alix.
André Morell’s Palmerston was, perhaps, too civil, and Felicity Kendal, though very alike in appearance, did not really convey the stern intellectualism of the Princess Royal.
There were many incidental pleasures: seeing those little Land-seer dogs come to life, spotting the correct royal portraits on the walls, some of the groupings, which were a delight to the eye, and the camera-work, which was unobtrusively marvellous throughout.
The series ended with around 16 million viewers as #1 in the ratings. Five of the 13 episodes had also hit the top spot.
Based on a biography by Philip Magnus, it was written mainly by David Butler, formerly dishy Dr Nick Williams in Emergency – Ward 10. Butler went on to co-write Lillie for LWT in 1978, in which Francesca Annis reprised her Lillie Langtry role.
Edward The Seventh was retitled Edward The King when it screened in the USA. Lew Grade had sold it to CBS in less than an hour – before Britain had seen it – and it was a hit stateside too.
Dowager Empress Dagmar
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Duchess of Kent
Luis de Soveral
Edward de Souza
George I of Greece
Sir Ernest Cassel
Czar Nicholas II
Alix – Princess Alexandra of Denmark
Baron Christian von Stockmar
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Daisy Lady Warwick
Sir John Fisher