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4.7 out of 5 stars
74
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
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on 21 March 2017
This is an absolutely superb historical drama series, very well acted and produced, beautiful to look at, and exceptionally accurate in its attention to historical details such as fashion. Robert Hardy is a brilliant Prince Albert, Annette Crosbie a convincing Queen Victoria (though, as is bound to happen in a drama covering 60 years of someone's life, not young enough at the beginning and not old and frail enough at the end), and Timothy West a sympathetic Edward VII. A host of major and minor stars of the era provides nostalgic and captivating viewing: casting John Gielgud as Disraeli was a stroke of genius.

What of the interpretation? Edward VII is presented as growing from a frustrated and neglected young man into an experienced and wise politician, capable of charming the whole of Europe (except his angry young nephew, Kaiser Wilhelm) with a few words and warning insistently of the dangers of war and revolution. Queen Victoria is selfish, jealous, and insular; her husband unhealthily obsessed with discipline and maintaining the appearance of royal probity. The Kaiser is an unbalanced villain; Queen Alexandra's Russian relatives innocents incapable of seeing the weakness of their own position. Alexandra herself is one of the stars—good humoured, loyal, and approachable, her effectiveness limited by growing deafness and occasional obliviousness to the personal needs of some of her children. While some historians would put a more favourable construction on Victoria's behaviour, be less understanding of Edward's self-indulgent hedonism, and emphasize Alexandra's personal and intellectual limitations, there is nothing in this drama that is radically implausible. (I did not like the portrayal of all of the politicians, but with so many characters featuring over 13 episodes, there are bound to be a few one-dimensional appearances.)
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The acclaimed 1975 series; 13 episodes, each 50 minutes. This portrayal of the shamefully underused heir to the throne is very much on Edward's side, playing down his grosser excesses. Despite his constant pleading, he was denied any real responsibilities by his parents Victoria and Albert. Frustrated, he turned to self-indulgent, trivial pursuits. Only when he was sixty and king were his talents appreciated - he, amongst other things, proving a skilled and greatly needed negotiator both at home and abroad.

The sumptuous production has much to please the eye. By modern standards, it may seem a little slow moving and wordy, some of the cast under the mistaken impression they are on the stage, needing to project their voices to reach the back of the stalls. Such criticisms are trivial amidst so much that delights. Annette Crosbie's Victoria deservedly won a BAFTA. Robert Hardy as Albert is simply superb - he and others increasingly fine as their characters age. What a triumph for Timothy West as Edward! A special delight is Helen Ryan as Alexandra - the princess usually late except when giving birth. Movingly she is an extraordinarily tolerant wife, Edward's mistress invited to see him as his death nears.

Extra pleasures include early glimpses of now famous faces, credits confirming the sightings and revealing other names that surprise. (What a joy,too, to have credits that can actually be read!) Extras include commentaries and a very interesting Robert Hardy feature.

All in all, a right royal treat.
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on 21 October 2014
It might not appeal to viewers who prefer their historical drama to move along at a more spurious pace, but it's the calm, gentile spirit that is captured here that makes for a memorable 1975 period production. Edward VII's reign coincided with monumental social flux and pressure for change within Britain, European politics and the then British Empire and Dominions. Timothy West portrays the prince who had the patience to wait many decades before he ascended the throne and then surprised many people by his astute analysis of international events and oftentimes his versatile handling of political affairs behind the scenes. His love of his wife and his fondness for pleasure and ladies' company are all covered somewhat sympathetically but his reign also witnessed a British public who in the end loved their rakish King to the last. Read 'Uncle of Europe The Social and Diplomatic Life of Edward VII' by Gordon Brook-Shepherd (published also in 1975) for a fuller, more weighty, but eminently readable account of this often forgotten prince's true worth to this nation.
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on 25 May 2017
I really enjoyed this classic piece of British television. Intelligent script and terrific acting with consistently audible dialogue. The principal characters were faultless but I was particularly taken with Christopher Neame as Kaiser Wilhelm II who really made his mark. Modern production values may have improved but it would be hard to match the overall quality of this production. Shame that series of this depth just are not made any more.
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on 29 April 2017
From Victoria to the Twentieth Century ... magnificent rendition. Highly recommended!
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on 27 January 2016
Received within 2 days of ordering, this superb series was on my must have list. Can't wait to view it again. The first time of viewing was in 1975 when it was first on television.
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on 18 March 2017
Brilliant portrayal by Both stars of the movie.
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on 28 May 2017
Good
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on 21 September 2012
I've just finished watching this quality series about Edward VII. Although it was made over thirty years ago, the quality is good, the acting is excellent and the whole family enjoyed this fascinating part of history.
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on 30 June 2014
Very Well acted Well worth the money.
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