1 9 7 4 (UK)
13 x 50 minute episodes
Two years in the planning, this epic BBC series – created by John Elliot and directed by Stuart Burge – chronicled the collapse of three great European dynasties: the Romanovs, the Habsburgs, and the Hohenzollerns.
It dealt with the lives of three emperors who dominated Europe – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (Barry Foster), Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (Charles Kay) and Emperor Franz Josef of Austria (Miles Anderson initially and then Laurence Naismith). They were absolute monarchs, controlling more than 200 million people.
But by 1918, all three empires had collapsed, and their rulers swept away.
The cast was uniformly superb, with many future stars appearing in relatively small parts – future Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart, in particular, acted up a storm as Lenin.
The scripts were uniformly intelligent, and the lavish sets and costumes were magnificent, though budget constraints often required major events – such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – to be described rather than shown.
Overall, though, it was a rich and rewarding viewing experience and an absolute feast for history buffs.
Tsar Nicholas II
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria-Hungary
Miles Anderson (1)
Laurence Naismith (2)
Otto von Bismarck
Kaiser Wilhelm I
‘Fritz’, Prince Frederick William
Tsar Alexander III
Death Waltz | The English Princess | The Honest Broker | Requiem for a Crown Prince | The Last Tsar | Absolute Beginners | Dearest Nicky | The Appointment | Dress Rehearsal | Indian Summer of an Emperor | Tell the King the Sky Is Falling | The Secret War | End Game