This is a play about a real person, the legendary actor Edmund Kean. That it is, however, completely a work of fiction is signaled by the fact that, at one point, Kean describes himself as being 48 years old. The real Edmund Kean died at the age of 46.
The production of this lavish TV play did not run smoothly, with Anthony Hopkins constantly quarreling with director James Cellan Jones, and even walking out for a day during rehearsals. Jones said, however, that, despite all the grief, he would not hesitate to work with Hopkins again.