An in-depth biopic of Princess Margaret from the days following her father's death in 1952 until the 1970s. She was known to be a flamboyant royal but she remained a stickler for protocol. ... See full summary »
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Elyot Chase (Toby Stephens) and Amanda Prynne (Anna Chancellor) are glamorous, rich and reckless divorcees. Five years later, whilst on their second honeymoons with their brand new spouses,... See full summary »
An in-depth biopic of Princess Margaret from the days following her father's death in 1952 until the 1970s. She was known to be a flamboyant royal but she remained a stickler for protocol. She had many controversial romances and also infamously kissed the daughter of the US ambassador. Also the film gives some focus on what others thought of Margaret, from normal people of the era to a backbench MP opposed to her 1961 wedding. Written by
The MP Willie Hamilton did not speak in a Scots accent, but a Northern English accent. It was only his parliamentary seat that was Scottish. See more »
Danny La Rue:
[Princess Margaret has seen Danny naked; he proceeds to cover himself up]
What are you doing here?
Don't worry, Danny, I've seen a queen's crown jewels before!
See more »
This show advises us at the outset "some of the following is true, some is not". So we have been warned. Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister, kept the voracious British tabloids fed for many years. A high spirited personality, she found life as a minor royal boring and frustrating and deep down she probably agreed with her stern critic, Labour MP Willie Hamilton, seen here as a kind of Greek chorus. Her early love for an older divorced man war hero Peter Townsend was smothered by the royal establishment (personified here, in an unlikely fashion, by Prince Philip neither the Queen nor her mother appear). She preferred jazz singing and nightclubs to opening schools and visiting the sick and her marriage in 1960 to the society photographer Tony Armstrong Jones was initially a happy one, but as much as she liked their semi-bohemian lifestyle Margaret never forgot she was royal. Although no saint himself, Tony eventually walked out when she was photographed in the arms of society hippie and landscape gardener Roddy Llewellyn, who was 20 years younger than Margaret.
There real strength of this production is Lucy Cohu's performance as Margaret. Not only does she look the part, she somehow conveys the strange mixture of immature, impulsive brat and dignified personage that Margaret seems to have been. She is not only believable but she evokes our sympathy, much as Princess Diana did later in the century. Margaret however was too abrasive to ever become really popular with the British public, despite royal household efforts to polish her image. In a classic instance, royal minders go round the audience at the theatre to make sure Margaret gets a round of applause when she enters the Royal Box. The audience does not seem too keen since she's kept them waiting for half an hour, but the applause is forthcoming.
Given Lucy Cohu's stellar performance, the question of what is fact and what is fiction doesn't matter much, but the affair with Roddy, shown here as a brief dalliance, actually went on for 8 years, and only ended when Roddy found someone else to marry. The divorce from Tony is shown having occurred years earlier than it actually did (1978). Apart from a shot on the beach at Mustique, her Caribbean hideaway, a veil is drawn over Margaret's later years, the last few of which were truly wretched after a series of strokes confined her to a wheelchair, As mentioned, Prince Philip carries the flag for the royal establishment. As impersonated by David Threfal, he is an almost creepy character, quite unlike Philip's blunt, bumbling but forthright public persona. He is affable enough, but strangely condescending, as if he is real royalty and she is the interloper. It has been suggested that Threfal had Charles rather than Philip in mind, which if this is fiction is fair enough, but rather confusing if we are sticking to history.
It's a sad little story but Lucy Cohu makes it interesting. Toby Stephens does a believable and likable Tony but most of the other characters have little to do. One can see why the producers decided not to bring in the Queen and the Queen Mum, but leaving them diminishes the portrait of Margaret, whatever the state of their relationships. It is possible to portray the Queen in an interesting and non-offensive manner, as Alan Bennett did via Prunella Scales in "A Question of Attribution", where she is seem in conversation with the keeper of her pictures and former soviet agent Anthony Blunt (superbly played by James Fox). Anyway, this is not bad television, and I predict it will do well in the US where there is an insatiable demand for royal fairy tales.
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