The series is based on the books by A.L. Rowse and depicts the rise of John Churchill who became the first Duke of Marlborough and the victor of Blenheim, Ramillies and Oudenarde in War of The Spanish Succession. And the ancestor of Sir Winston Churchill.
Don't be worried that you are going to be presented with a "dry" historical account because the series emphasises the more human aspects of John Churchill's character. Initially he is depicted being a bit of a rogue and a womaniser until he meets his future wife Sarah Jennings who effectively tames her husband.
They become a powerful team due to Sarah's influence with Princess Anne (later Queen) at Court and ultimately are responsible for controlling much of domestic and foreign policy -with Sarah additionally controlling the Queen's purse strings.
All the major historical events are depicted - Charles II's mistresses, the abdication of James II, the bed warming pan scandal (!), William and Mary and finally Anne's reign and death.
These events form the backdrop to the personal story of John and Sarah. Their extreme love for each other when it wasn't the done thing to be faithful, her moods and tantrums, her quarrels with their daughters and all the backstairs intriguing which ultimately resulted in Sarah being dismissed from Court and Marlborough being impeached.
There are a host of British actors in the two video sets but the laurels must go to Susan Hampshire who gives a bewitching performance as the termigant Sarah and Margaret Tyzack who gives a very moving performance as the bullied and yet stubborn Queen Anne who suffered the tragedy of loosing all her 17 children before she died. John Neville as John Churchill is also excellent but he is upstaged by the two female leads.
As you would expect from a series made in 1969, there are few open air shots and sometimes the sound quality suffers. But this does not detract at all from this gem of a series.
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