The Final Cut (1995)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Drama
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Francis Urquhart is too experienced a politician not to know that everything must end, even his long career as British prime minister. In order to secure his retirement and establish ... See full summary »

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Title: The Final Cut (1995– )

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Series cast summary:
 Francis Urquhart (4 episodes, 1995)
Diane Fletcher ...
 Elizabeth Urquhart (4 episodes, 1995)
 Tom Makepeace (4 episodes, 1995)
 Claire Carlsen (4 episodes, 1995)
Nickolas Grace ...
 Geoffrey Booza Pitt (4 episodes, 1995)
Glyn Grain ...
 Rayner (4 episodes, 1995)
 Corder (4 episodes, 1995)
Dorothy Vernon ...
 Speaker (4 episodes, 1995)
Andrew Seear ...
 Wolfin (4 episodes, 1995)
Peter Symonds ...
 Polecutt (4 episodes, 1995)
John Rowe ...
 Sir Clive Watling (3 episodes, 1995)
Yolanda Vazquez ...
 Maria Passolides (3 episodes, 1995)
Duggie Brown ...
 Joe Badger (3 episodes, 1995)
 Mattie Storin (3 episodes, 1995)
 Nures (2 episodes, 1995)
 Sir Bruce Bullerby (2 episodes, 1995)
 President Nicolaou (2 episodes, 1995)
Cherith Mellor ...
 Hilary Makepeace (2 episodes, 1995)
Erika Hoffman ...
 Princess (2 episodes, 1995)
Leon Lissek ...
 Evanghelos Passolides (2 episodes, 1995)
Tom Beasley ...
 Young King (2 episodes, 1995)
Richard Bebb ...
 Political Commentator (2 episodes, 1995)
Sue Edelson ...
 Newsreader (2 episodes, 1995)
David Ashford ...
 Newsreader / ... (2 episodes, 1995)


Francis Urquhart is too experienced a politician not to know that everything must end, even his long career as British prime minister. In order to secure his retirement and establish monument to himself, he takes part in negotiations aimed at ending the Cyprus conflict. However, that same island hides the secrets from Urquhart's youth - secrets that could destroy him. Written by Dragan Antulov <>

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Release Date:

4 February 1996 (USA)  »

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(4 parts)

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


Michael Dobbs, the author of the original book, was angered at the opening scene depicting Margaret Thatcher's funeral. As a result he demanded his name be removed from the credits which just say "Based on the novel The Final Cut" without mentioning his name. See more »


When the security man at No. 10 enters the Urquharts' bedroom with his pistol drawn and at the ready, the gun actually has no live round in the chamber and is thus not ready to fire (we can tell this by the fact that the Glock's trigger is to the rear, which would not be the case if the action had been cycled to chamber a round). See more »


[Prime Minister Urquhart is watching Makepeace being interviewed on television]
Tom Makepeace: To quote the prime minister, "You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment."
Francis Urquhart: You bastard!
See more »


Follows To Play the King (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

The Fall Of Francis Urquhart
13 January 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Having risen through the ranks of the United Kingdom's Conservative Party in House Of Cards and having consolidated power in To Play The King, Francis Urquhart (played once again by Ian Richardson) is on the verge of becoming the longest serving Prime Minister. Yet the pieces are slowly moving against him for last game of power politics. The stage is set for The Final Cut, the final miniseries in the House Of Cards trilogy.

Like its two predecessors, the miniseries's success lies in its lead character Francis Urquhart as played by actor Ian Richardson. Urquhart, who has served as Prime Minister for approximately a decade, is making plans for his eventual retirement while seeking a fitting legacy. Yet the skeletons of the past aren't quite as quite as dead and buried as he might think though as things slowly come out to threaten his very political existence. Richardson continues to play Urquhart as a modern day (modern day being an alternate version of mid to late 1990's UK) version of Shakespeare's Richard III but there's a more human element in this last act as well. Here's a man whose played numerous power games and finds himself risking more and more in one final play for power and, in this case, a fine legacy as well. In a way this may well be Richardson's finest performance in the role of Urquhart.

There's also another major player who deserves mention. Diane Fletcher, who had largely been on the sidelines in the two previous miniseries, gets her biggest role in the trilogy as Urquhart's wife Elizabeth and this is as much her series as it is Richardson. Her she is revealed to be just as cunning and manipulative as her husband as she helps to set up the Urquhart Trust and watches her husbands final power plays with increasing worry. Also of interest is Elizabeth's hinted at relationship with security man Corder which brings a new dimension to this series, especially in regards to the ending. All of this gives Fletcher a chance to show off her skills and makes The Final Cut as much hers and his.

Which brings us to the supporting cast which is a bit mixed. On the plus side are Paul Freeman as Tom Makepeace, the Conservative party politician who grows increasingly wary of and eventually becomes the one who may finally be able to bring Urquhart down. There's also Isla Blair as Claire Carlsen who rises within Urquhart's ranks while being involved with one of the PM rival's. Last but not least is Nick Brimble as Corder who gets a large role in the proceedings and the aforementioned relationship with Urquahrt's wife as well. On the downside are Nickolas Grace who gives a sleazy and annoying performance as Geoffrey Booza Pitt and Joseph Long as the rather bumbling and ineffective Cyprus President. The supporting cast overall is a mixed bunch which dampens the success of The Final Cut somewhat.

The production values hold up well for the most parts. Once again there's fine production design by Ken Ledsham who creates the worlds ranging from 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and beyond though somehow there seems a very low budget feel to the scenes set in Cyprus. There's also the cinematography of Ian Punter which once again brings a fine sense of atmosphere to the world of the miniseries. Last but not least here is once again the music by Jim Parker, especially with the main title and end title pieces which serve as a perfect start and closing to the four episodes of the miniseries. Sadly what seems to be lacking is the direction of Mike Vardy who makes this final part seem to be both very sleazy (including unnecessary nudity especially considering the lack of it earlier in the trilogy) and snail paced throughout. The result is, like the supporting cast, something that dampens the success of this final part.

Last but not least is the script. Once again Andrew Davies adapts Michael Dobbs (who is uncredited as the novel's author due to creative conflicts with the makers of the series) novel into a script which takes a look at a seasoned politician and his last grasps at power. Urquhart seems obsessed at times with the shadow of predecessor Margret Thatcher (who appears to have died just before the beginning of the series) and him staying as Prime Minister longer then she was and securing a fitting legacy to his tenure. Yet there are ghosts of the past that begin to haunt Urquhart more and more. Here we learn more of Urquhart's past including his army tenure in Cyprus and how it now threatens to bring him down. There's the machinations of those in his government as well including Makepeace who prepares to challenge him for power as well. Together the script offers us a look at the fall of one government, the effect of that on the man in charge of it and the rise of its successor. That's not the say that this is a perfect script though as there are some decidedly sleazy and improbable aspects to the story as well, including the rather unsatisfactory ending which seems a rather convoluted way to end the trilogy of miniseries's. Maybe those are the faults of the novel rather then the script but there is something not quite right with this final part of the House Of Cards trilogy.

The Final Cut proves to be the last, if unsatisfactory, part of the House Of Cards trilogy. While there's fine performances from Richardson and Fletcher plus much of the supporting cast the issues with other members of the supporting cast, some low budget feels, direction and script issues weigh this part down significantly. The result is a good but overall unsatisfactory conclusion which seems rather a shame.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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