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ECLIPSE OF THE SON
on 3 March 2010
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.