|Thursday, July 15, 2004
US Emmy Award Nominations announced
The Last King
Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie
Or A Special (Dramatic Underscore)
The Last King Part 2 A&E An A&E/BBC co-production
Sat Apr 17, 8:00 PM ET
A&E Network title Change - The Last King
The Last King
(Movie -- A&E, Sun. March
21, 8 p.m.)
Filmed in the Czech Republic by A&E and the BBC. Executive
producers, Delia Fine, Laura Mackie; supervising producer, Emilio Nunez; producer, Kate
Harwood; director, Joe Wright; writer, Adrian Hodges;
King Charles II - Rufus Sewell
Duke of Buckingham - Rupert Graves
Queen Henrietta Marie - Diana Rigg
Barbara Villiers - Helen McCrory
Sir Edward Hyde - Ian McDiarmid
Lord Shaftesbury - Martin Freeman
Queen Catharine - Shirley Henderson
Duke of Monmouth - Christian Coulson
Lady Frances Stewart - Alice Patter
Nell Gwynn - Emma Pierson
Louise de Keroualle - Melanie Thierry
By ANN DONAHUE
A&E/BBC co-production "The Last King" is a lush, entertaining look at
Charles II, known as the "Merry Monarch" for his taste in wine, women, song --
and women. Four-hour treatment blends the high-spirited and the somber, focusing on a
charismatic king who had to deal with a triple threat: the plague, the Great Fire of
London and religious intolerance in the post-Cromwell era. Presentation will be an instant
homerun with the Merchant-Ivory crowd, and will gain fans through repeated airings and
upon a speedy DVD release next month.
Poor Charlie. His wife can't stop
crying. His mistress is sleeping with his teenage son. His mother henpecks him, nattering
on about how Louis down in France builds roads that are so much better.
It ain't easy being king.
Rufus Sewell is
as a king who has been written off by historians as little more than a randy party boy. He
brings texture and nuance to Charles, showing his resolve when Parliament gets out of
hand, but becoming a softy when faced with a bawling girlfriend.
Joe Wright's direction of the biopic
avoids the chockablock "page out of history" fragmentation that occurs so often
in epics, using Charles' long-term paramours to link the tumult of the time to the king's
strife with the women in his life. It also gives several actresses the chance to strut
Shirley Henderson has a tough role to
pull off as Charles' wife, the Portuguese Catharine of Braganza, without collapsing into a
simpering mess. Even with electrocuted Princess Leia wigs and a lispy baby-talk
affectation as she learns English, Henderson's perf brings sympathy to a role that could
easily fall to stereotype.
Charles' long-term mistress Barbara
Villiers is played with hiss-worthy glee by Helen McCrory. Fearful of losing her position
(no pun intended) in the king's household, she sets up a series of machinations to win the
confidence of the queen and Charles' eldest illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth
The character of Nell Gwynn (Emma
Pierson) is given short shrift considering her prominent stature in the folklore from the
time. A sassy actress who wins the king's heart with her quick wit, Pierson has only a few
scenes to show how Gwynn entranced the monarch and the people of England. She does so with
witty aplomb; more of Pierson would have added another degree of levity to the piece.
Writing deftly gives a nod to Charles'
well-known affinity for certain items -- spaniels, clocks and oranges, among them --
without going over the top.
"King" is the first A&E
original movie to be presented in letterbox format. Version works well, giving perspective
to the pic's sprawling landscapes and sets -- and, more often than not, wigs and robes.
One scheduling quibble: Playing the
entire four hours at one sitting is a recipe for disaster. Ratings would be much improved
if "King" was shown in miniseries format, as it was aired last year in the U.K.
The title refers to Charles'
dissolving Parliament, thereby being the last king of England to attempt to rule on his
own. In the British version, the title was the much more intuitive "Charles II -- The
Power & the Passion."
March 20, 2004In the midst of the cacophonous mise en
scène here, Mr. Sewell offers an unusual, though marvelously convincing, hypothesis.
TV REVIEW | 'THE LAST KING'
A Playboy King's Life
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
The New York Times
Hectic tableaus define "The Last King," the BBC's mini-series about thereign of
King Charles II. This is a serviceable, if boring, English costume drama, yet the creators
have tried, somewhat embarrassingly, to sex it up. A movie about a playboy king and his
cloak-and-dagger court, set in a time of dissipation and spectacle, requires more austere
staging, lest the whole
flamboyant sensibility be ladled on uncritically - and too thick. Costumes in "The
Last King" are puffy and brocade, hair corkscrewed and tousled and encouraged to
dominate the screen. Backdrops include extensive paneling, multipane windows, bright
frescoes, elaborate statuary and eroded walls. Often, as in the opening scene of the
beheading of Charles I, the action of the story is seen around some obstruction in the
foreground: part of a window, curtains, slats of wood. Contributing to the visual chaos is
a nervous, illogical camera.
Fortunately the plot, an afternoon's homework at Harrow, is easy to follow. After the
execution of his father, Charles (Rufus Sewell) is living in exile in Antwerp. Attended
only by very loyal friends, he is waiting, more or less, for the death of Oliver Cromwell.
That death comes, and he's restored to the throne in England, where he is promptly married
to the Portuguese princess Catharine of Braganza (Shirley Henderson, the Scottish actress
with the frightening helium voice, who played Moaning Myrtle in "Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets").
In spite of marriage, the king retains several mistresses, and one with real nerve:
Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory, who's great).
Between plague and fire, London hits rough patches during Charles's 25-year rule. His
personal life is no less demanding. The movie, whose tagline is the cumbersome,
"Power has always been a potent aphrodisiac," leaves a half-dozen bodices in
tatters. Charles fathers children out of wedlock. The personal in turn becomes political
as the bastards throw succession into
doubt. Various courtiers use this vulnerability in the line to advance Catholicism, as
embodied by Charles's convert brother, James, (Charlie Creed-Miles) or Protestantism, as
embodied by Charles's son Monmouth (Christian Coulson).
Martin Freeman (wry Tim from "The Office"- upholstered in robes, and acting
dramatic!) plays the scheming Shaftesbury with surprising confidence and nerve; he
actually talks out of the side of his mouth. Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham,
rival of the king, gets somewhat lost in all the hair products and frippery. And Diana
Rigg, lending her name and clout to the production in exchange for a few minutes of
lackluster screen time, plays Queen Henrietta Marie, mother of the king.
As the man around whom it all revolves, Mr. Sewell is curiously absent. He speaks
softly at times, almost lisping, especially when he's being affectionate with children,
courtiers and mistresses; he seems rather less than a hero.
Though he has several shouting matches, he also stares; he's preoccupied. The actor
himself comes across exhausted, spent, his eyes rimmed in red. All the stuff around him -
the voices, the royal knickknacks, the family portraiture - seems to wear him out.
Who knows how the old English kings actually comported themselves? How drunk or tired or
manic they would have struck us - in the small ways, that is, on which we base judgments
THE LAST KING
A&E, Sunday at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.
Directed by Joe Wright; written by Adrian Hodges; Kate Harwood, producer;
Delia Fine, executive producer; Emilio Nunuz, supervising producer; Laura
Mackie, executive producer for the BBC.
WITH: Rufus Sewell (Charles II), Rupert Graves (Duke of Buckingham), Diana
Rigg (Queene Henrietta Marie), Helen McCrory (Barbara Villiers), Ian
McDiarmid (Sir Edward Hyde), Shirley Henderson (Catharine of Braganza), Emma Pierson (Nell Gwynn)
Picks and Pans - TV Drama
March 29, 2004
The Last King
A&E (Sunday, March 21, 8 p.m. ET)
Baudiness ruled in the court of Englad's Charles II, a
17th-century monarch with a small army of mistresses and illegitimate children. But
political and religious disputes also competed for the king's time, along with a plague
outbreak and a huge fire that devastated London.
It's hard to cover Charles's tumultous, 25-year reign in a four-hour film, and I confess
I'm glad that the script stresses the sexy stuff. When the king (Rufus
Sewell) and his advisers discuss Protestant-Catholic hostility and Parliament's
power of the purse, viewers who aren't students of this historical period will find their
minds drifting to the question of which privy councillor has the curliest wig.
Sewell is effective as a man whose compassion and tolerance are less constant than
his desire to retain powere and satisfy his lust. The main female roles compose a
well-cast study in contrasts:Diana Rigg as Charles's rigid mother; Shirley Henderson as
his mousy,loyal wife; Helen Mccrory as his scheming, sexually insatiable
mistress-in-chief; and Emma Pierson as the saucy actress who makes the king her biggest
rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 4
|Press Release A&E
Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg
Star in the A&E Network(R) Original Movie
Thursday January 8, 4:55 pm ET
THE LAST KING
A Four-Hour North American Premiere Airing
Sunday March 21 at 8PM/7C HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- When the
dashing Charles II celebrated his 30th birthday by returning from exile and reclaiming his
throne, no one knew he would be the final British monarch to wield such power over his
countrymen. A&E Network presents the North American Premiere of the A&E/BBC
co-production THE LAST KING, starring Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg. The four-hour Original
Movie airs Sunday, March 21, 2004 at 8pm/7C.
THE LAST KING is the sweeping story of
King Charles II's most turbulent life -- his tumultuous rule, his squabbling family and
his numerous romantic indiscretions. Set at the crossroads of British history, just as the
monarchy was being swept away by democracy. Charles II was a sensual and romantic man --
one who loved the arts almost as much as he loved women, and a politician who was willing
to do nearly anything to keep his power.
Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale, "Helen of Troy") stars as Charles II.
Rupert Graves ("The Forsythe Saga," The Madness of King George) is the Duke of
Buckingham, Charles' trusted friend; Diana Rigg (VICTORIA & ALBERT, "The
Avengers") is Queen Henrietta Maria, the King's volatile mother; Martin Freeman
("Ali G Indahouse," "The Office", Love Actually) is Shaftesbury,
Charles's political nemesis and former minister; Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets, Bridget Jones's Diary) is Queen Catherine; Christian Coulson (HORATIO
HORNBLOWER, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) is the Duke of Monmouth, the eldest
of Charles's illegitimate children; Charlie Creed Miles (Nil by Mouth) is Charles's
brother James; Alice Patten is the demur Lady Francis Stewart, who manages to escape
Charles's renowned sexual advances; Helen McCrory (The Count of Monte Cristo) is the
aristocratic and promiscuous Barbara Villiers; Emma Pierson (Virtual Sexuality) is folk
heroine and sex symbol Nell Gwynnel; and Melanie Thierry (The Legend of 1900) is the
French spy Louise de Keroualle.
After nearly a decade in exile, Charles II is destitute,
weary and virtually hopeless. Even the Duke of Buckingham, his oldest and dearest friend,
abandons him to make peace with Oliver Cromwell, the military leader in control of
Britain. Charles' hope is all but lost when Cromwell suddenly dies, and Cromwell's son
takes his place.
But history takes a surprising turn when General George
Monck persuades Parliament to invite Charles back into power. His triumphant ride into
London on his 30th birthday is joined by another sweet conquest -- the long -- anticipated
seduction of the alluring Barbara Villiers. With the witty and virile Charles siring
illegitimate children all over the place, the need for a queen and a legitimate heir
becomes paramount. Barbara is sufficiently confident not to feel threatened by the arrival
of the future Queen, Catherine of Portugal, whose pious disposition at first is no match
for the more worldly and cunning mistress.
Charles' reign is remembered as "Merry Olde
England," but in truth, it was an extremely turbulent time politically, including a
disastrous war with Holland. During his 25-year rule, England experienced virulent anti-
Catholicism, and yet Charles himself secretly converted on his deathbed. The King was in
fact a raucous gambler, a libidinous womanizer, the unapologetic father of at least seven
illegitimate children, an impassioned lover of the arts, a ruthless political survivor,
and the monarch who ultimately ushered in a true and lasting democracy -- whether he
favored it or not!
Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E
Network® on THE LAST KING. It is directed by Joe Wright (Nature Boy) and produced by Kate
Harwood (THE LOST WORLD). The teleplay is by Adrian Hodges (THE LOST WORLD, LORNA DOONE,
"David Copperfield") and Laura Mackie is the executive producer for the BBC.
Release: Region II February 16, 2004
One of the better BBC costume dramas of recent years, 2003's
Charles II: The Power and the Passion depends very strongly on its central performance.
Fortunately, Rufus Sewell is admirable throughout as the saturnine, witty monarch who
has retained popular fondness down the centuries in spite of his conscientious adherence
to the bad and losing cause of absolute monarchy. Adrian Hodge's intelligent script dramatises the issue in quick sound bites--many
politicians accepted the Restoration to avoid chaos and were determined to bring Charles
to heel, whereas he was determined to defend the position for which his father had been
martyred. If that meant handing the throne to his Catholic brother in default of a
legitimate son of his own, so be it.
The four hour-long episodes cover the Restoration, the Plague and the Fire of London, the
secret treaties with France and the Popish Plot, as well as giving us a fair bit of
Charles's moderately happy marriage to Catherine (Shirley Henderson in the most hideously
accurate historical hairdos ever) and his affairs with various mistresses. Among a number
of fine supporting performances, Rupert Graves stands out as Buckingham, the friend who
betrayed Charles. This sort of costume drama only ever works if the acting is as good as
it is here.
On the DVD: Charles II on disc comes with a making-of documentary and a commentary on the
first episode from writer Adrian Hodge and the director and producer. It also includes an
extended documentary on Charles's back story--his education, his attempt to fight
Cromwell's forces, his period on the run in England and his long exile--in which a number
of eminent historians, including Richard Holmes and Ronald Hutton, talk about how he
became the king he was. --Roz Kaveney
A drama which takes the viewer to the Royal Court of Charles II. Mistresses, French spies
and Nell Gwynn inhabit the court. England meanwhile suffers the Plague and the Great Fire.
by Gary (The Sunday Times)
New Charles II Gallery
Charles II website Message board
This is the place to discuss the drama and, exclusively, read
Rufus's answers to selected questions!
The King of Cool
read the interview
The People Magazine
November 9, 2003
the royal moustache Rufus has his royal wig put
in place. 'It was really sweltering during filming in
Rufus had his hair cropped so he
Prague but we took off our wigs for some scenes," he says.
could wear big wigs.
Charles II looks at a portrait of his late father. Set in
a suitably seductive pose, Barbara Villiers
one of the great rooms at the Palace of Whitehall,
the King's scheming mistress, played bu Helen McCrory,
Charles's quarters were based on rooms at Hampton
awaits her would be lover - Charles's illegitimate son
Court by Sir Christopher Wren, recreated in Prague.
the Duke of Monmouth.
The Office star Martin Freeman as Lord Shartesbury, one
of Charles's most important ministers. "The director had
seen me do serious stuff before and he thought I could do
this part," Martin says. "I only hope I've pulled it off."
Some things never change, like being entertained by a host of royals
behaving badly. and with the return of the hunky Rufus Sewell - star of A Kinght's
Tale - as the charismatic but devious 17th Century monarch, King Charles II, we're in for
a royal treat.
Set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, BBC1's new four-part spectarular
begins with the young king in exlie before he returns to England and transforms into the
infamous Merry Monarch, before his death in 1685. Rufus, 36, was thrilled to give
Hollywood a break and return to the small screen.
"It was the personal side of Charles that I found most
fascinating," he says. "He was a very manipulative man but he did have a
blind spot - women."
His many mistresses included the beautiful Barbara Villiers, played by Helen
McCrory, and theatre star Nell Gwynne, played by Emma Pierson. He was married to the
virginal Queen Catherine of Braganza (Shirley Henderson), who was unable to bear him a
child, but he had several illegitimate ones from his numerous conquests.
Says Rufus: "It was embarrassing filming all the
bedroon scenes, but they had to look as real as possible. You don't acrually
see that much, which is good because watching people bump and grind can be boring.
But it does look as if we've really been going for it!"
Charles IIm BBC1 Sunday, November 16, 9 pm
November 15, 2003
The bling bling king
Joanna Hunter survives royalty, rakes, fops and fools on the set
of Charles II
AT FIRST COUNT, there are 19 people
watching over the directors monitor in the castle forecourt. A few feet away is a
horse-drawn carriage and, above it, standing on a raised platform, Rufus Sewell and
Charlie Creed-Miles recheck their flowing lace cuffs and shoulder-length periwigs. Orders
are being shouted, first in English, and then in Czech. Its 37C (88F) at Tocnik
Castle, near Prague; the horses are restless and, once again, the royal
spaniels have disgraced themselves. But then nobody said it would be easy playing a king.
Yes, after Ray Winstone as Henry VIII and Prunella Scales
playing Queen Victoria comes yet another historical drama. Charles II, starring
Sewell in the title role, is a four-part BBC drama. And while viewers might be forgiven
for crying off the programme with history fatigue, Charles II comes with an
emphasis on the individual someone learning to be the master of their own
destiny , as the director Joe Wright puts it. I cant stand dry politics
and dry history, he says. It has to be engaging on a personal level. Its
more important that people can relate to it in terms of their relationship with their
children, or their lovers, or their wives, or even themselves.
The appealing thing about Charles II, especially when
compared with Henry VIII and Victoria, is that it is refreshingly
unfamiliar. Charles, who reigned from 1660-85, remains an enigmatic figure. His father was
beheaded, but Charles junior survived both Cromwell and exile to retake the throne at the
age of 30 which is where the BBCs drama starts. Once on the throne Charles
didnt face an easy ride, what with the warring Dutch abroad, the bitter and bloody
Protestant-Catholic divide at home, the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.
Constitutionally, Charles is important because he was the
last British king to attempt to rule absolutely without Parliament. He was also something
of a dandy, with a penchant for shoulder-length curly wigs and a court that was renowned
or, according to many of Charless puritan subjects, notorious for its
What strikes you is how bling bling it is, says
Rupert Graves, who, as Charless mercurial best friend, the Duke of Buckingham, gets
to wear more than his fair share of finery. They went in for really aggressive shows
of grandeur, just dripping in gold with huge hair and make-up. It was very sexy. It
was indeed: on top of his regal duties the King also found time for 12 mistresses and 13
The booty culture isnt the only parallel that can be
drawn between the Restoration period and today. One of the things about a political
story like this is that theres no limit to what you can say, you can even exaggerate
it no one is going to sue, says Graves. And there are so many parallels
between then and now. Politically, Charles creates a Parliament and a Kings Council,
which are like new Labour. The Dutch war stuff is very similar to the Iraqi war, too, with
people saying the same sort of things, such as itll be over in a week
and we have to get rid of these tyrants. But he is too tactful to
mention any points of comparison between contemporary royals and their paramours.
If the monarchs life sounds epic, this production is
not far off that either. Sewell lords it over a line-up that includes Dame Diana Rigg as
Henrietta Maria, the Kings mother, and Ian McDiarmid as his chief minister Sir
Edward Hyde. As well as such stalwarts, Charles II gives several actors such
as Martin Freeman from The Office, and Creed-Miles, better known for his roles in Nil
By Mouth and The Fifth Element, but here playing a king the chance to
take on roles that audiences might not expect of them.
You look around the court scene and the actors and you
think: Wow these are people I really like, says Freeman, who,
despite the fact that he is playing it straight for a change, as Charless nemesis,
Shaftesbury, is no mean shakes in the popularity stakes himself. Its not the
usual suspects, Freeman continues. Were all young enough to still be
hungry, not all too fat and complacent having done this 20 times. Were really keen
to do it well. And thats why its great to work with someone like Ian
McDiarmid. Whenever Im in doubt I just look at what hes doing and try to copy
it. Im just doing a really bad imitation of him. Hes probably quite
embarrassed about it.
Even if it werent for the big names, the sheer size of
the cast would be daunting add a further 101 speaking characters, as well as some
1,500 extras, and you can see that the BBC means business. The number-crunching
doesnt stop with the cast, either. Wrights vision doesnt just encompass
an era, but a whole world. And so, owing to a lack of suitable buildings in Britain and,
of course, the strength of the pound against the koruna, the entire production was moved
to the Czech Republic. There they used 14 different locations, and even recreated
Whitehall what was a disused car factory in Prague became a 150ft by 80ft (45x24m)
set, with all 14 rooms laid out exactly as if they were in the palace and decorated with
20 paintings and glass that was hand-blown locally.
The fact that the sets have been built so that you can
walk from one room to another, the way that you can in a normal house youve
got your bedroom that leads to your little closet that leads to your little kingly velvet
toilet means youre not constantly reminded that its a fake, says
Sewell. Its a big help. Generally in films, when you walk through a door,
its all polystyrene, so you have to work harder to put yourself in that world.
At Tocnik Castle (where most of the exteriors were being shot
in June earlier this year) they have created more of that world, including reconstructing
a London street (with three six-storey Tudor buildings), the Holbein Gate, which used to
stand at the entrance to Whitehall Square, and the Houses of Parliament. At this stage the
only thing they have yet to plan is how they are going to tackle the Great Fire of London.
If I could change one historical fact I would boot out
the fire of London, admits the producer, Kate Harwood. No such luck.
Other historical details have proved easier to deal with.
With so many mistresses, viewers might be forgiven for hoping that Charles II might
have a deal of royal romping. When you read the script you do think, Goodness,
theres a lot of shagging, says Sewell, who, as Charles, is involved in
most of it. But its actually only with one of the characters that you see them
in bed together. I mean its actually quite boring watching people in bed.
Hmm. But in the meantime Sewell seems to be getting enough
kicks from playing a king. During rehearsals youre worrying what makes people
kingly, he says, and my theory was that what makes you kingly is people doing
what you want them to. When we first had lessons in courtly behaviour we did this
exercise. When I walked in the room everyone stood up, and moved when I moved, and I
remember thinking, Oh, this is nice! Youve got to be careful: 12
weeks of people deferring to you physically its dangerously pleasant at
first. But, he counters, checking himself, it does get pretty tedious in the
Charles II begins on Sunday, BBC One, 9pm
many thanks to Gillian and Rai!
Sewell: Royal role
Sewell's purple patch
Actor Rufus Sewell says he's nothing like the bed-hopping
king he plays in BBC1's lavish £4m drama Charles II The Power & The Passion
.While on screen he romps with beauties playing the merry monarch's
mistresses, off-screen the 35-year-old is more likely to be bouncing his 19-month-old son
Billy on his knee. Rufus, who lives with girlfriend Amy Gardener, says: "I've never
been away from him since he was born, which has been lovely."He took his family with
him to Prague to film the drama. "It was very child friendly. Billy came for lunch on
the set every day," Sewell recalls."I have never wanted to be a father who is
away filming for three months and then comes back to find that his son has grown another
Thoughts of Hollywood fame were put on hold when he was
offered the part. He'd just bought an apartment in Los Angeles in a bid to further
his film career when he got the call. He immediately decamped to Prague where it was
filmed and then returned to the Czech city to shoot the movie Tristan & Isolde. He
adds: "We sold the house in London to go to LA but now the flat in LA is gathering
dust." Sewell says he found Charles II a fascinating man to play. "Before
I played him I had this image of chocolate oranges and Nell Gwynn, spaniels and breasts.
But he was very complex. He was a weak man and a strong man. He was tough and
sentimental. He was quite moral and he was a naughty old man. We've also avoided
having spaniels coming out of our ears there is just the odd one."
Sewell defends the raunchy sex scenes in the drama. The opening episode on
November 16, which focuses on Charles's time in exile and the restoration of the monarchy
after Cromwell's death, features seven bedroom romps, including an oral sex scene
featuring Rupert Graves as Charles's pal the Duke of Buckingham and Helen McCrory as the
king's mistress Barbara Villiers. "I think it's boring watching sex for hours.
There's more to Charles II than just sex," he insists.
As well as Sewell, Rupert Graves and Helen McCrory, Charles
II features a well-known cast. Dame Diana Rigg plays the king's mother Henrietta
Maria, The Office's Martin Freeman is Lord Shaftesbury, Ian McDiarmid, of Star Wars, is
Sir Edward Hyde and Alice Patten, daughter of ex-Tory chairman Chris Patten, portrays the
virginal Lady Frances Stewart. Sewell says he suffered for his art in the heat of
Prague. "I had to wear a wig which had the texture of a horse's backside but
luckily I could take it off now and again as it felt like wearing Brillo. I also had to
wear a velvet costume and it weighed a quarter of a ton." For Charles's death
scene he had to shave his head. "He had a stroke and the doctors shaved him and
carried out grotesque treatments," he says.
Sewell first shot to prominence as Will Ladislaw in the BBC's
Middlemarch in 1994 and he then appeared in Cold Comfort Farm. Since then his star
has risen steadily with film Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel And Laurence and the blockbuster
movie A Knight's Tale. More recently he's played Agamemnon in the mini-series Helen Of
Troy and in the film Tristan & Isolde he plays Lord Marke.
Pick of the day:
16 November 2003
Charles II The Power
And The Passion
Lavish Restoration romp starring Rufus
Sewell as the Merry Monarch. Far from being a bodice ripper, this four-parter looks
at the man behind the image of womanising, oranges and spaniels. It reveals how he was
tormented by the execution of his father Charles I, and often manipulated by women,
notably his mother played by Dame Diana Rigg. It's a feast for the eyes and the acting is
Pick of the day:
17 November 2003
The Boy Who Would Be King
Documentary on the formative years of Charles II following the start of the £4m BBC1 drama about the Merry Monarch. It examines
the events including the execution of his father Charles I which led to his
contradictory character. At times charming, sex-obsessed and unprincipled, the king, who
was bedhopping at the age of 15, was also courageous and a brilliant strategist.
thanks, Gillian and Rai!
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
And In Today's Lesson
Many of us tend to believe that what we see in historical dramas
is based on real events. But is Charles II more fiction than fact?
read the article
BBC Listings - Sunday, November 16
Charles II: The Power
And The Passion
Sun 16 Nov, 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm 60mins
The opening episode of this drama sees Charles Stuart restored to the
throne after years spent in exile from Republican England. Abandoned by his oldest friend,
the Duke of Buckingham, Charles II has reached his lowest ebb when the sudden death of
Oliver Cromwell galvanises the Royalist cause. Only one man can unite the nation and
prevent a return to Civil War. Charles's triumphant restoration is sealed by another
victory; the long anticipated seduction of beautiful Barbara Palmer. With virile Charles
spawning a growing hoard of illegitimate children, the need to secure the succession
becomes paramount. Confident of her pre-eminence in Charles's affections, Barbara insists
on becoming chief among the new Queen's ladies-in-waiting. A surprising show of spirit
from mousy Queen Catharine awakens Charles's interest but she cannot hope to match wily
Barbara who will stoop to any level to hang on to her power.
Contains explicit sexual scenes and scenes of a violent nature.
Charles II: The Power And The
Sun 16 Nov, 10:00pm - 11:00 pm 60 mins
Part two of this
major new drama starring Rufus Sewell, Helen McCrory, Rupert Graves and Martin Freeman.
A fiery comet in the sky is rumoured to portend doom on Charles's reign. Beset by plague
and war, and embroiled in bitter wrangles with Parliament as he battles to keep his
Catholic brother James in line to the throne, Charles is forced to sacrifice his trusty
minister Sir Edward Hyde.
As the Queen fails to produce a legitimate heir, Charles comes under pressure to divorce
and remarry. His roving eye fixes on demure Frances Stewart, but is Charles prepared to
jettison loyal Catharine too?
The Telegraph Magazine
25 October 2003
read the article
thanks, Margaret from Ireland!
The Sun Online
Thursday, November 6, 2003
The Loin King
RANDY Charles II gets
a firm grip on Lady Castlemaine Barbara Villiers in the BBCs new
bodice-ripping drama. The saucy royal, played by Rufus Sewell, seduces a string of women
in the drama, which starts on BBC1 on November
Barbara Villiers, played by Helen McCrory, had six children after becoming Charles
lover in 1660. Helen said: Barbara Villiers has an unabashed hedonism that makes her
magnetic. She was described as an uncrowned queen. Here was a really unusual woman
who was a political animal as much as she was a sexual animal. She was a tough
cookie and a clever woman.
The Daily Mail Weekend Magazine
October 25, 2003
cover story: A
Very Merry Monarch
His Majesty's Pleasures
The BBC's new 5 million pound bodice-ripper, a drama about
the life and loves of Charles II, needed a smouldering star to playa king who seduced the
world's most beautiful women. Step forward Rufus Sewell, the
sexiest screen icon since Mr Darcy though,as he tells Lester Middlehurst, he's really a
family man at heart.
interview plus more pictures
thanks Gillian and Rai!
News from BBC1
BBC1 website with preview
clips and screensavers
Charles II - The Power & The Passion press pack is available below in PDF
format, as a complete pack or in sections.You may require Adobe Acrobat Software to
read PDF files which can be obtained here.
Charles II - The Power & The Passion press pack (890 KB)
and crew (41 KB)
interviews (400 KB)
women of the Court (260 KB)
cast information (97 KB)
the Czech Republic into 17th-century England
Mistresses of Charles II & 10 Things You Didnt Know About Charles II and his
Reign (113 KB)
II (1630-1685) (79 KB)
tree (60 KB)
events 1645-1685 (41 KB)
documentaries (98 KB)
romp with Charles II
The Telegraph (UK)
By Tom Leonard, Media Editor
Rufus Sewell as Charles II
A £4 million BBC drama about Charles II will
portray him as a "modern-style patriarch presiding over an extended, dysfunctional
family" and unable to trust anyone, the corporation said yesterday.
Rufus Sewell plays the Stuart king in a four-part serial that will stay true to the BBC's
determinationto serve up history with a resonance for a modern audience. Aside from noting
that he hid in "all the oak trees he could find . . . and thus very romantic",
1066 And All That had
little to say about Charles II other than that he was "always very merry and was
therefore not so much a king as a monarch".
The BBC's take on the monarch is predictably more colourful and will revolve around his
torrid private life in a drama it describes as a "dynamic romp - racy, visceral and
Charles II also stars Diana Rigg, as Charles's mother, Henrietta Maria, and Helen McCrory
as one of his mistresses, Barbara Villiers. Alice Patten, the youngest daughter of Chris
Patten, plays Lady Frances Stuart, a young virgin who escapes Charles's sexual
advances.Jane Tranter, the BBC's head of drama commissioning, said the serial would
portray Charles as "charming, devious and manipulative by turns" and presiding
"over an extended, dysfunctional family like a modern patriarch".
Although the corporation was wary about drawing too clear a parallel with today's Royal
Family, the drama's writer, Adrian Hodges, claimed that many of the issues that
preoccupied the king "have a disturbingly contemporary resonance".The portrayal
"did not sound over-played", said the historian David Starkey."He was an
extraordinary man - a master of deviousness, he used wit as an instrument and his
sexuality had an almost desperate quality," he said.
read the article
The Daily Mail
A ruthless mistress for randy Charles
Helen McCrory wipes off her make-up as we chat
about royal bed-chamberWe're on location in a castle courtyard at Lednice in Moravia,
where the actress has been filming scenes for Charles II: The Power and The Passion.
She portrays the vivacious Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, who enjoyed many
merry romps with Charles before and during his reign, and bore him several children
When McCrory first meets Rufus Sewell's Charles she sweeps
forward to curtsey, her bosom heaving in a red velvet gown, inclines her head, and gently
brushes his breeches with her nose. 'She's a predator,' Ms McCrory agrees.
One historian described Lady Castlemaine as a 'magnificent
creature' and Ms McCrory has brought her to life with brilliant visual flourishes that
give you an absolute sense of who this woman was. ''She's like an animal. You admire her
because she's so carnal and ruthless - but you also loathe her because she doesn't appeal
to any of the higher points of humanity, like trust or faith or love or hope. 'She has
none of it - she has to be a realist and pragmatist.'
Within moments of meeting Charles (after ditching her
husband, Lord Palmer), she has him in be McCrory has a commanding presence. She walks into
the monarch's chambers, shouts 'Get Out!' to the courtiers attending Charles, and lets a
beautiful cape fall to the floor. The nudity is brief, but the effect electric.
In fact, director Joe Wright films such moments with
lustful, yet tasteful passion. It's not he kind of vulgar bonking we've seen in many
Lady Castlemaine is, of course, one of several women in
Charles's life. They include Shirley Henderson as his wife Catharine of Braganza, Emma
Pierson as Nell Gwynn, Melanie Thierry as Louise de Keroualle and Alice Pattern as Lady
Frances Stewart - who spurned the regal overtures.
Castlemaine used her sexuality as a means of survival.
'Barbara was a very ruthless and ambitious woman who really has no alternative but to use
her sexuality and her intellect because she has nothing else to bargain with,' McCrory
says. 'I've had bedsores filming this part. There are a lot of bedroom scenes,
'she jokes as she lists the men she sleeps with. 'There's Charles, his son, my cousin -
not to mentionJohn Churchill, who I pay £500 to spend the night with! You see
men behaving in that way and it's sort of seen as Jack-the-lad and rather sort of naughty
boy and it's all great fun. But if a woman does it she's a bitch, or: 'What a whore!' So
in a sense, Barbara's a very masculine creature.'
Costume designer Mike O'Neill and director Wright met to discuss the drama's 'look'.
Wright, whose parents ran a puppet theatre in North London,
told me, 'I can remember my mum said you could always identify the witch because she
always wore green and red.'
Consequently, Barbara wears bloody reds and acid greens,
while the quiet, but at times fiery, Catharine wears dark colours. When we see her, she
looks like a giant bat.
The four-part drama looks at how Charles regained the
throne and battled over his women and religion. We see how Barbara fights to retain her
position, and how, in the end, the fight breaks her.
The performances of Ms McCrory, Ms Henderson and Mr Sewell
capture the essence of the pain - and fun - of their frolics. The drama hits BBC1 next
16 October 2003
News on the latest BBC dramas
II - The Power and The Passion
This four-part drama begins in November
2003 on BBC ONE.
The Charles II website is live from late October 2003.
dynamic romp through history - racy, visceral and violent Charles II is set in the
corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict between monarch and State was at a
crossroads. Starring Rufus Sewell as King Charles II, Rupert Graves, Helen McCrory, Martin
Freeman, Dame Diana Rigg and Ian McDiarmid.
The drama focuses on the court of
King Charles II, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses from the
high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory) through folk heroine and sex
symbol of the day Nell Gwynne, to French spy Louise de Keroualle (Mélanie Thierry).
From the pen of award-winning
screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield and The Lost World,
this ambitious and original take on Charless reign penetrates to the heart of the
charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatised by the execution of his father.
To complement the drama, BBC ONE is also showing two documentaries, The
Boy Who Would be King and Oliver Cromwell - Warts and All.
The Charles II website is live from late October 2003.
thanks, Gillian and Rai
October 6, 2003
Saturday fare proves troublesome
By DEBRA JOHNSON
LONDON -- If
Blighty's terrestrial players have one thing in common, it's that they're all struggling
with he problem of Saturday night.
the flops this year was Chris Evans' Channel 4 gameshow "Boys and Girls," which
was relegated to a late-night slot before being canned. ITV's diet of movies, gameshows
and comedy failed to lift it out of a summer slump, while the return of "Fame
Academy," the BBC's answer to "Pop Idol," didn't deliver for the pubcaster.
viewers switching to pay channels, DVDs and videogames, primetime auds on Saturday nights
have dropped to 18.1 million in 2003 compared with 19.3 million in 1995. The BBC
is beginning its campaign to have its charter -- and its public funding -- renewed. With
this in mind, more public service fare will likely be skedded in primetime.
quarter sees a slew of history programming in BBC1's $350 million fall sked -- from drama
"Charles II," starring Rufus Sewell, Diana
Rigg and Rupert Graves, to docs
"Pompei: The Last Day" and "Colosseum."
trend is likely to continue until the Beeb secures future funding in 2006. Whether this
will stop the pubcaster from forking out a reported $8 million for U.S. pics like
"Harry Potter" and bidding for series like "24" remains to be seen. Commercial
web Five is doing a remarkable job of moving away from down-market fare and winning auds
with factual fodder. The
6-year-old web may have the smallest budget of the terrestrial players at £157 million
($246 million), but it is attracting two-thirds (6.5%) of the audience achieved by rival
Channel 4 (9.7%), which has a budget of $609 million. What's
missing from the Five schedule is laffers. Managing
editor Jeff Ford says he'll be looking to find the right U.S. show that complements the
sked. "Films don't always deliver in the ratings, which is why we've gone down the
one-hour U.S. drama route." C4 has
desperately tried to draw back auds with shows such as reality series "14
Alone," in which a group of teenage boys and girls are filmed in a house for five
exec Mark Thompson is driving the broadcaster back to the more thought-provoking fare it
launched with in 1982. Dominant commercial broadcaster ITV has a budget of $1.26 billion,
a new program director -- Nigel Pickard -- and has reversed the decline, albeit modestly,
in primetime. Big
dramas this fall include "Henry VIII," starring Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham
Carter, and the return after a seven-year hiatus of "Prime Suspect" starring
print: Mon., Oct. 6, 2003
3 October 2003
Whatever happened to the epic TV dramas of old? Simple, says James Morrison, they
got squashed. So how do you tell
the story of Henry VIII in just two parts? And can the condensed 'Colditz' ever
live up to the 1970s original?
................The Deal lasted 90 minutes,
while ER star Alex Kingston's portrayal of the life of England's most celebrated
warrior queen was crammed into a two-hour film. Henry VIII has been given a
comparatively generous four hours, over two
episodes, and next month's BBC 1 dramatisation of the life and loves of Charles
II, starring Rufus Sewell, has the
same running time, but over four nights...............
September 15, 2003
thanks Gillian and Rai!
First reported by Rupert
March 15, 2003
Rupert Graves and Rufus Sewell will begin filming a
new BBC drama - Charles II in mid April.
Rufus will play Charles, and Rupert will play Buckingham. More details to follow....
dominates BBC One line-up
Tuesday, 29 July, 2003
History programmes are to form the backbone of BBC One's £220m autumn
schedule for 2003.
The line-up includes two big budget documentaries: Colosseum,
about Roman gladiators, and Pompeii - The Last Day, a recreation of the last hours of the
doomed city which was smothered by a volcano.
"I'm prepared to bet that viewers will come to a
schedule that is as rich as this is," said BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey.
The schedule includes historical dramas such as
Charles II, starring Rufus Sewell as the king, alongside Dame Diana Rigg and Rupert
The drama is described as a "dynamic romp through
Ms Heggessey added: "We've become the nation's favourite
and I intend to keep it that way."
thanks Nadine and Rai!!
By DENISE MARTIN
Cabler A&E has greenlit
production on four-part mini "The Last King."
Joe Wright ("Nature Boy") will helm and Kate
Harwood ("The Lost World") will produce the telepic, which centers on the life
of King Charles II, his squabbling family and his many mistresses.
"Charles II was a remarkable man -- witty,
intellectually curious and, I understand, downright sexy," said A&E senior VP of
programming Robert DeBitetto.
Sewell ("Helen of Troy"), Rupert Graves ("The Forsythe Saga") and
Diana Rigg ("Victoria and Albert") are set to star in the project, penned by
"The Lost World" scribe Adrian Hodges.
Delia Fine and Laura Mackie will exec produce.
A&E and BBC co-production began lensing Monday in
April 8, 2003
Sewell rules in BBC1 pic
By DEBRA JOHNSON
LONDON -- Rufus Sewell will
play Charles II, who ruled England from 1660-85, in a four-part historical drama for
pubcaster flagship channel BBC1.
Other original history dramas on the BBC sked are
two-parter "James I and the Gunpowder Plot," starring Jimmy McGovern; "The
Cambridge Spies," a four-part drama by Peter Moffatt about the recruitment of
Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt into Russian intelligence in the 1930s; and a two-part
drama by Nick Dear about 19th-century poet Lord Byron for BBC2, with Jonny Lee Miller in
the title role.
"Charles II" will focus on the king and his
court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses, from the high-born and
promiscuous Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory), through folk heroine and sex symbol of the
day Nell Gwynne (Emma Pierson).
Cast also includes Rupert Graves, Diana Rigg, Martin
Freeman and Ian McDiarmid.
"Rufus Sewell has tremendous physical energy combined with sensitivity and
charisma, which makes him a perfect choice for the title role," said Jane Tranter,
controller of drama commissioning at the BBC.
BBC Press Release
Rufus Sewell is Charles II in a four-part drama
for BBC ONE
Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves, Helen McCrory, Martin Freeman
and Ian McDiarmid star in a four-part drama serial about the life of King Charles II for
BBC ONE, it was announced by BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, Jane Tranter.
The focus of King Charles II is his court, his squabbling
family and his glamorous mistresses - from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers
(Helen McCrory), through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne (Emma Pierson)
to the French spy Louise de Keroualle (Mélanie Thierry).
It is an original take
on a historical period written by award-winning screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits
include David Copperfield and The Lost World, which penetrates to the heart of the
charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatised by the execution of his father.
"An ambitious and original historical drama for BBC
ONE, King Charles II is a dynamic romp through history - racy, visceral and violent - set
in the corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict between monarch and state was at
a crossroads," said Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.
"Rufus Sewell has tremendous physical energy
combined with sensitivity and charisma which makes him a perfect choice for the title
Destitute, weary, hopeless: after nearly a decade in exile
from Republican England, even Charles II's oldest and dearest friend the Duke of
Buckingham (Rupert Graves) abandons him and returns home to make his peace with Cromwell.
The witty, vital, sensual monarch is at his lowest ebb when
loyal minister Sir Edward Hyde (Ian McDiarmid) brings news of Cromwell's sudden death. The
celebrations are short-lived, as England passes peacefully into the hands of Cromwell's
Never did the prospects of regaining Charles's crown seem
so bleak, until canny General Monck persuades Parliament to invite Charles Stuart back to
take up his throne.
Charles's triumphant ride into London on his thirtieth
birthday segues into another victory; the long-anticipated seduction of beautiful,
tantalising Barbara Villiers who has been holding out on Charles for several months.
With the virile Charles spawning illegitimate children all
over the place, the need for a queen and an heir becomes paramount. Barbara is
sufficiently confident of her charms not to feel threatened by the arrival of the devout
and mousy Catherine from Portugal, the future Queen who, at first proves to be no match
for the wily Barbara.
The cast also includes: Diana Rigg as Henrietta Maria,
Charles's volatile mother; Martin Freeman as Shaftesbury, Charles's political nemesis and
former minister; Shirley Henderson as Queen Catherine; Charlie Creed Miles as James,
Charles's brother and Alice Patten plays the demur Lady Francis Stewart, the young virgin
who manages to escape Charles's sexual advances.
Further casting to be announced shortly.
Complementing Charles II, BBC ONE will be screening two
documentaries on Cromwell and King Charles II.
Charles II is one of a number of forthcoming original
history dramas following The Lost Prince (BBC ONE) and The Other Boleyn Girl (BBC TWO).
These include a two-part drama by Jimmy McGovern about
James I and The Gunpowder Plot; The Cambridge Spies (a four-part drama by Peter Moffatt
about the recruitment of Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt into Russian intelligence);
and a two-part drama about Byron for BBC TWO by Nick Dear with Jonny Lee Miller in the
Notes to Editors
Filming in Prague from Monday 14 April for 12 weeks,
Charles II is due for transmission later this year on BBC ONE.
The director is Joe Wright and producer is Kate Harwood.
Charles II (Mini-series)
The Internet Movie Database
|Sewell crowned to play
Charles II in A&E-BBC mini
The Hollywood Reporter
Mar. 18, 2003
By Andrew Wallenstein
NEW YORK -- Rufus Sewell has been tapped to star in the
upcoming original biopic on Charles II, a co-production of A&E and BBC.
Scheduled to begin shooting next month in Prague, the four-hour
miniseries chronicles the 17th century monarch's turbulent reign, which coincided with the
Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The film also explores his equally stormy
personal life, including his succession of mistresses.
"This is a complex, rich portrait of a king not to mention an
incredibly sexy one," miniseries executive producer Delia Fine said. "Rufus is
just the right actor to play such a fantastic character."
Sewell's credits include "Extreme Ops" and "A Knight's Tale."
Rupert Graves ("Extreme Ops") will co-star as Lord Buckingham, Charles' nemesis.
Expected to air late this year or in early 2004, the miniseries will be directed by Joe
Wright (BBC's "Crocodile Snap"). The script was written by Adrian Hodges
("Lorna Doone"). Laura Mackie will executive produce, and Kate Harwood produces
for the BBC.
The miniseries is the first longform project greenlighted by Bob DeBitetto, A&E's new
senior vp original programming. No budget was disclosed, but it will be one of the biggest
productions in A&E history, Fine said.
Sewell is represented by Victoria Belfrage in London and Endeavor in the United States.
Gene Parseghian is his manager.
The Daily Mail
April 4, 2003
by Baz Bamigboye
Melanie Thierry, a French beauty who will
be one of Charles II's paramours in a bawdy four-part television drama about the King. Rufus
Sewell will romp for England, along with Helen McCrory and many
others. Diana Rigg plays Charles's mother.
As producer Kate Harwood told me: 'It's not a history lesson. Rather, we look at the women
in his life and try to explain how the execution of his father affected him.'
The epic will be shot in Prague for BBC1. Ms Thierry, a 21-year-old Paris based actress,
has appeared in several French language films, but Charles II marks her her international
Producer Harwood and director Joe Wood have assembled a superb cast that also includes
Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham, Shirley Henderson as Charles's wife Catherine,
Charlie Creed Miles as his brother James and Alice Patten as Lady Frances Stewart, one of
the few damsels to escape Charles's sexual clutches.
PATTEN'S GIRL GETS STAR ROLE
Apr 4 2003
The Mirror, London
By Nicola Methven
daughter of ex-Tory chairman Chris Patten is to star in the BBC's latest bodice-ripper
series, it was revealed yesterday.
Alice Patten, 22,
plays opposite Rufus Sewell in the lust-filled costume drama Charles II.
character, the demure Lady Frances Stewart, is one of the few to escape Sewell's sexual
advances as the King.
She will be joined in
an all-star cast by Dame Diana Rigg, Rupert Graves and Office funny-man Martin Freeman.
The £5million drama
follows Charles during his 10-year exile from Oliver Cromwell's England and his triumphant
A BBC insider said:
"The drama shows Charles at his lowest ebb.
"Alice Patten plays the one who got away but it's not long before
Charles is spawning illegitimate kiddies all over the place."
Alice launched her
acting career on stage and has had minor TV roles in The Forsyte Saga and Where the Heart
Is. Her dad is a European Union commissioner.
Patten daughter to star in
racy new BBC drama
By Adam Sherwin, Media Reporter
The London Times
April 4, 2003
THE youngest daughter of Chris Patten is to star in a "lusty"BBC One drama about
and loves of King Charles II. A month after her father was elected Chancellor of
Alice Patten, 23, has picked up a role that could make her an equally prominent figure on
She will play Lady Frances Stuart, the young virgin who managed to escape Charles's sexual
advances and became Britannia, the female icon who presided over British coinage for
centuries. Rufus Sewell will play a "witty, sensual" monarch in
the £4million drama,
a four-part series that will be a highlight of BBC One's autumn season.
Miss Patten's success comes 11 years after her father arrived in Hong Kong as the colony's
final Governor with three daughters whose appearance sent the local press into a frenzy.
They were dubbed the "Three Graces" and gossip columnists debated the lengths of
while one British newspaper criticised 17-year-old Laura for slouching at a formal
The girls' vibrant charm soon became a valuable aide to their father and the family's
to the colony in 1997 was one of the most poignant moments of the British handover to
While their father found a new position as EU External Relations Commissioner, before
becoming a candidate for the Oxford post, the Patten girls pursued successful careers in
the media. Laura, 28,
is deputy beauty editor at Tatler magazine and Kate, 29, is a BBC television producer.
Both now shun the limelight, limiting their public appearances to campaigning with their
father in Oxford and
attending Alice's first nights.
The youngest Patten was spotted by a theatrical agent when she appeared in a student
production at Cambridge, where she took a modern languages degree.
Her rise has been swift and last year she made her West End debut in Vincent in Brixton,
playing Eugenie, the "wide-eyed charmer" whose mother became Van Gogh's
Colleagues of the three daughters say that they refuse to trade on their name. Laura began
her career with a work experience placement on Vogue, before jobs at Harpers & Queen
and then Vanity Fair.
Kate travels around the world producing documentary programmes for the BBC's digital
channels, including Rock Shrines, whichshowcased the sites of legendary rock star deaths.
She had previously worked on Esther Rantzen's That's Life! Filming for Charles II beginsin
the Czech Republic later this month. Frances Stuart is believed to be the only one of
Charles's loves to refuse his advances. He penned her tender love poems but to no avail.
The king was furious when she eloped with the Duke of Richmond but eventually forgave her
and made her husband Ambassador to Denmark.
Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama, described the series as "a dynamic romp
through history -
racy, visceral and violent -set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict
Monarch and State was at a crossroads".
The drama, written by Adrian Hodges, begins with Charles's restoration to the Throne and
follows his battles with Parliament and attempts to increase religious tolerance. But it
reputation as "that great enemy of chastity and marriage"which will be probed
most closely, with mistresses from the kindhearted Nell Gwynne to the scheming Barbara
Villiers disrobing for the King to the distress of the barren Queen Catherine.
Kate Harwood, the producer, said: "It is a lusty piece and Charles's infidelities
appalled people at the time. But it was a violent age and although Charles was the last
King to try to rule without
Parliament he managed to remain quite popular."
Miss Patten will star alongside Dame Diana Rigg, who plays Charles's mother, Henrietta
Maria, Rupert Graves, who stars as the Duke of Buckingham, and Shirley Henderson as Queen
to Play Charles II for A&E
Tue, Mar 18, 2003 11:41 AM PDT
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - British actor Rufus
Sewell has signed on to play English King Charles II in an upcoming miniseries about the
The four-hour miniseries, a co-production by A&E and
the BBC, is scheduled to begin shooting in Prague next month. It will chronicle Charles
II's time on the throne, which coincided with the Great Plague and a fire that destroyed
much of London, and his personal life.
"This is a complex, rich portrait of a king, not to
mention an incredibly sexy one," executive producer Delia Fine tells The Hollywood
Reporter. "Rufus is just the right actor to play such a fantastic
Sewell's credits include "A Knight's Tale" and
"Dark City." Rupert Graves ("The Forsyte Saga" ),
Sewell's co-star in last year's "Extreme Ops," will play Lord Buckingham
in the miniseries.
Adrian Hodges ("David Copperfield,"
"Lorna Doone" ) wrote the script. It's expected to air late this year or in
early 2004. http://tv.zap2it.com/news/tvnewsdaily.html?30614
Charles II (1660-85 AD)
Charles II, second son of Charles I and Henrietta Marie of France, was born in 1630. He
spent his teenage years fighting Parliament's Roundhead forces until his father's
execution in 1649, when he escaped to France. He drifted to Holland, but returned to
Scotland in 1650 amid the Scottish proclamation of his kingship; in 1651, he led a
Scottish force of 10,000 into a dismal defeat by Cromwell's forces at Worcester. He
escaped, but remained a fugitive for six weeks until he engineered passage to France.
Charles roamed Europe for eight years before being invited back to England as the
Commonwealth dissolved. He married Catherine of Braganza, but sired no legitimate
children. His oldest child, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, made a failed bid to capture
the crown at the time of his father's death and was executed by James II, brother of
Charles II and Uncle to Monmouth. Charles II died in February 1685 from complications
following a stroke.
Charles arrived in London to claim the throne on his 30th
birthday, May 29, 1660. He was extremely tolerant of those who had condemned his father to
death: only nine of the conspirators were executed. He was also tolerant in religious
matters, but more from political wisdom than overwhelming morality. England was overjoyed
at having a monarch again. However, royal powers and privileges had been severely limited
by Parliament. He was forced to fund his administration from customs taxes and a healthy
pension paid to him by France's Louis XIV. Royal prerogative, the soul of the Tudor
monarchs, James I and Charles I, had all but vanished. This moment was a turning point in
English political history, as Parliament maintained a superior position to that of the
king, and the modern concept of political parties formed from the ashes of the Cavaliers
and Roundheads. The Cavaliers evolved into the Tory Party, royalists intent on preserving
the king's authority over Parliament, while the Roundheads transformed into the Whig
Party, men of property dedicated to expanding trade abroad and maintaining Parliament's
supremacy in the political field.
The first decade of Charles' reign was beset by many
problems. Defeat at the hands of the Dutch in a mishandled war over foreign commerce cost
him domestic support. The Great Plague of 1665 and the Fire of London in the following
year left much of the city in ruins. In 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sunk five
battleships and towed the Royal Charles back to Holland. King and Council were
ridiculed for not having enough interest in the affairs of government.
The 1670's saw Charles' forging a new alliance with France
against the Dutch. French support was based on the promise that Charles would reintroduce
Catholicism in England at a convenient time - apparently, that convenient time never came,
as Charles did nothing to bring England under the Catholic umbrella, although he made a
deathbed conversion to the Roman faith. The Whigs used Catholicism to undermine Charles;
England was in the throes of yet another wave of anti-Catholicism, with the Whigs
employing this paranoia in an attempt to unseat the heir apparent, Charles' Catholic
brother James, from succeeding to the throne. Titus Oates, a defrocked Anglican priest,
stoked the fires of anti-Catholicism by accusing the queen and her favorites of attempting
to murder Charles; ten men fell prey to false witness and Oates' manipulation of the
anti-Catholic movement, and were executed. Many accused Anthony Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury
and founder of the Whig Party, of inciting the anti-Catholic violence of 1679-80; this has
remained one of the greatest mysteries in British history. The Whig-dominated Parliament
tried to push through an Exclusion Bill barring Catholics from holding public office (and
keeping James Stuart from the throne), but Charles was struck down by a fever and opinion
swayed to his side. His last years were occupied with securing his brother's claim to the
throne and garnering Tory support.
Charles' era is
remembered as the time of "Merry Olde England". The monarchy, although limited
in scope, was successfully restored - the eleven years of Commonwealth were officially
ignored as nothing more than an interregnum between the reign of Charles I and Charles II.
Charles' tolerance was astounding considering the situation of England at the time of his
ascension, but was necessary for his reign to stand a chance at success. He was
intelligent and a patron of scientific research, but somewhat lazy as a ruler, choosing to
wait until the last moment to make a decision. The British attitude towards Charles II is
humorously revealed in this quote from 1066 and All That: "Charles II was always very
merry and was therefore not so much a king as a Monarch. During the civil war, he had
rendered valuable assistance to his father's side by hiding in all the oak-trees he could
find. He was thus very romantic and popular and was able after the death of Cromwell to
descend to the throne."
Charles II's Genealogy
A guide to the monarch's ancestors and offspring. These trails can lead you through the
history of Europe's royal houses and to some unexpected places.
Return to Monarchs Index
Charles II ©
Charles II, as the eldest surviving son of Charles I, spent
part of the English Civil War (1642-1646) fighting on his father's behalf in the West of
England, most namely at the Battle of Edgehill (1642). Forced into exile, he travelled
first to Scilly and Jersey. (It was in Jersey that he met the mistress who would father
James, Duke of Monmouth.) From exile in France, Charles attempted to save his condemned
father's life by presenting a signed blank sheet of paper to Parliament, which would allow
the government to agree to whatever terms would save his father's life.
After his father's execution in 1649, Charles was
proclaimed King of Scotland and some parts of England and Ireland at Scone in 1651, after
he agreed to make Presbyterianism the religion of England and Scotland. Two years later,
he invaded England and fought Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.
Defeated, he once again fled to France, where he lived a
poor existence, eventually moving to Germany and then the Spanish Netherlands.
In 1660, Charles's restoration to the throne was engineered
by General George Monck, an English soldier who had fought for Cromwell, but realised the
importance of the monarchy in rebuilding the country. Charles returned to London on his
birthday, 29th May 1660. The King's desire for religious toleration (due in large part to
his leanings toward Roman Catholicism) was overwhelmed by the new parliament. Royalist in
nature, they passed the Clarendon code, which ensured Anglicanism as the state religion
and threatened non-conformists. Charles II tried to increase religious tolerance with his
Declaration of Indulgence, but was forced to withdraw it.
He entered into a series of diplomatic deals, first with
the creation of an alliance between Holland, and Sweden. At the same time, without the
knowledge of Parliament he negotiated the Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV. In this secret
treaty he agreed, in exchange for £200,000 a year, to convert along with his brother
James, (the future James II) to Catholicism and continue to war against the Dutch.
He further attempted to encourage Catholic freedom with the
passing of another Declaration of Indulgence, but Parliament overruled and came back with
further controls against the religion, this time forbidding Catholics from sitting in
Parliament. His alliance with Louis was forcibly ended at this point, with the brokered
marriage of Charles's niece Mary to Louis's arch-rival,William of Orange.
By 1678, anti-Catholic sentiment was at the highest point
in his reign. The Popish plot insinuated Roman Catholics were set to murder Charles, in
order to let his brother James reign. Over the next three years, his royal house suffered
the greatest challenges to its existence, with numerable threats by Parliament. The period
saw the rise of the Whigs (who wanted James excluded from succession) and the Tories (who
wanted no change). In 1681, he dissolved Parliament for the last time, ruled as an
absolute monarch and found himself popular with his subjects once again.
His reign also saw the rise of colonisation and trade in
India, the East Indies and America (where he captured New York from the Dutch in 1664),
and the passage of Navigation Acts that secured Britain's future as a sea-power. His
hedonistic character - he had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children and loved
racing and gambling - also informed the birth of the Restoration period in art and
The loves of Charles II -
INVITATION TO A FUNERAL
a tale of Restoration intrigue by
The Duke of Buckingham once referred to Charles II "as
the father of his people", adding, "of a good many of them".
The acknowledged mothers of Charles II's surviving
Lucy Walter (mother of James Scott, Duke of
Monmouth), also had a daughter named Mary who claimed to be the child of Charles II and
later became a kind of faith healer in Covent Garden under the name of Mrs. Fanshawe.
Villiers (mother of six children, five of whom were acknowledged by Charles:
three boys and two girls; the identity of the father of her youngest child - another
daughter - is uncertain, but may have been John Churchill). She became Charle's mistress
whilst married to Roger Palmer. She later became Duchess of Cleveland and then Duchess of Castlemaine.
Nell Gwyn (mother of two: Charles and James)
Moll Davis (mother of Mary Tudor)
Louise de Kéroualle,
mother of one son.
Elizabeth Killigrew (mother of Charlotte
Catherine Pegge (mother of Charles, Earl
of Plymouth, known as "Don Carlo")
No less than four of the King's sons were named Charles.
Two of them were James. One was christened Henry and nicknamed Harry.
His daugthers were either Charlotte, Anne, or Mary (the
names of Stuart princesses).
Surnames employed were either Fitzcharles, Fitzroy, or
Tudor, though Monmouth took the name Crofts in the days of his father's exile before the
Restoration, when a royal connection was not necessarily an advantage. (On Monmouth's
marriage, he took his wife's surname of Scott.)
Some other mistresses of Charles II:
Winifred Wells - one of the Queen's Maids of Honour
Mrs Jane Roberts - the daughter of a clergyman
Mrs Knight - a famous singer
Mary Killigrew - the widowed Countess of Falmouth
Elizabeth Countess of Kildare
Frances Stuart, with helmet and trident, was
engraved as Britannia, to preside over British coinage for three centuries.
Of all Charles II's loves, she is the only one believed to
have consistently refused his advances. Like Hortense Mancini who would capture the king's
interest nearly ten years later, Frances Stuart indulged in the Restoration fasion of
dressing in men's clothing.
At the time of Charles's infatuation with her, Barbara
Palmer, who was pregnant with the king's child, made a great effort to befriend her
potential rival. They even went through a mock marriage ceremony with Frances as bride,
Barbara as groom, and the two of them bedded in the traditional post-wedding ceremony.
Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this odd lovers' triangle was that Barbara would offer
to share her bed with Frances, then invite the king into the room to watch the other woman
Frances eloped with the Duke of Richmond in April 1667. The
king was furious, but eventually forgave her and made her husband ambassador to Denmark.
The Duke died young, but Frances never remarried. She devoted her later years to cats and
cards; at her death her cats were bequeathed to various female friends, with money for
A poem written by Charles II, about his love for Frances
I pass all my hours in a shady old grove,
But I live not the day when I see not my love;
I survey every walk now my Phyllis is gone,
And sigh when I think we were there all alone,
Oh, then 'tis I think there's no Hell
Like loving too well.
But each shade and each conscious bower when I find
Where I once have been happy and she has been kind;
When I see the print left of her shape on the green,
And imagine the pleasure may yet come again;
Oh, then 'tis I think that no joys are above
The pleasures of love.
While alone to myself I repeat all her charms,
She I love may be locked in another man's arms,
She may laugh at my cares, and so false she may be,
To say all the kind things she before said to me!
Oh then 'tis, oh then, that I think there's no Hell
Like loving too well.
But when I consider the truth of her heart,
Such an innocent passion, so kind without art,
I fear I have wronged her, and hope she may be
So full of true love to be jealous of me.
BBC plumps for £4m royal drama
Thursday November 7, 2002
The BBC is to broadcast a £4m drama about the life of King
Charles II, which is being described as an "historical West Wing".
King Charles II forms part of an ambitious new batch of
period dramas, including one about the life of Lord Byron starring Jonny Lee Miller as the
rebel poet, ordered by the BBC controller of drama, Jane Tranter.
The Charles II drama will provide plenty of uncomfortable
parallels with today's royals, featuring the monarch's squabbling family and his glamorous
mistresses, who included 17th century sex symbol Nell Gwynne and French spy Louise de
"It's going to be a racy, visceral, violent, modern
and no holds barred look at what being king meant to Charles II," Ms Tranter said.
"Charles II was the first monarch who had to work with
parliament and it will be a bit of a historical West Wing. I also expect it to invoke
memories of I, Claudius," she added.
"It will be one of the most ribald things we've done
on BBC1. He had more mistresses in five years than most people get through in a lifetime.
Then there's the great plague and the great fire of London."
Charles II came into power following the death of Oliver
Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy and although there was censorship at the
time, the era and his decadent court has been well documented by diarist Samuel Pepys.
King Charles II will go out as a two-part drama on BBC1
The drama is being written by Adrian Hodges, whose credits
include David Copperfield and The Lost World.
Ms Tranter said Byron, which is a two-parter for BBC2,
would take "an utterly modern look" at the romantic poet's life.
"Byron was one of the first overnight celebrities in
London. He was the Robbie Williams of his day," she added.
"The drama will look at what it meant to be both
blessed and cursed with genius."
Ms Tranter is talking to Trainspotting star Jonny Lee
Miller about playing Byron, but no contract has been signed.
Byron is being written by Nick Dear, whose previous
screenwriting work has included adapting Jane Austen's Persuasion.
It will be directed by Julian Farino, who most recently
shot critically lauded BBC2 disability drama Flesh and Blood.
Ms Tranter has also given the green light to two children's
drama adaptations for BBC1.
Jim Broadbent is being lined up to star in Patrick Barlow's
adaptation of The Young Visiters, the 1919 novel by child prodigy Daisy Ashford.
The Young Visiters was published when Ashford was just
nine, complete with spelling mistakes - hence the title.
Pauline Quirke will star in an adaptation of Nina Bawden's
novel, Carrie's War, which tells the story of London evacuees in Wales during the second
Andrew Davies is working on an adaptation of Anthony
Trollope's He Knew He Was Right for BBC1 - while Leigh Jackson, whose credits include
controversial New Labour drama The Project, is adapting William Golding's epic sea trilogy
To the Ends of the Earth for BBC2.