This docudrama focuses on five key events in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Combining narration, interviews, archival footage and dramatic recreations (with 5 different actresses ... See full summary »
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This docudrama focuses on five key events in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Combining narration, interviews, archival footage and dramatic recreations (with 5 different actresses portraying the Queen at different times in her life) the series focuses on several of the crises she has had to deal with. These include Princess Margaret's desire to marry a divorced member of the household staff; the need for additional funding at a time of major upheaval in British society; her disagreement with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over trade sanctions against South Africa; the family challenges in 1992 of failing royal marriages; and Prince Charles' desire to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles. Written by garykmcd

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29 November 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Queen: The Life of a Monarch  »

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Emilia Fox's father Edward Fox previously played the Queen's uncle King Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor) in Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978) whereas her cousin Laurence Fox played both her son Prince Charles in Whatever Love Means (2005) and her father King George VI in W.E. (2011). Furthermore, her uncle James Fox played the Queen's paternal grandfather King George V in the latter production. See more »

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Disclaimer: "The documentary elements are based on the best available sources. The drama is imagined." See more »

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intriguing idea, sadly doesn't work
4 December 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Touted as one of the TV events of the year, this five-part drama documentary sounds fascinating. Five different actresses play Elizabeth II, who came to the throne of England in 1952.

Focusing on key events in her reign and life - Princess Margaret's affair with Peter Townsend; the late 60s rise of republicanism; sanctions against South Africa and battles with Mrs Thatcher; the fallout from Charles and Diana's separation; the acceptance of Camilla Parker-Bowles into the family.

The archive footage included in each episode is fascinating, as are some of the recollections and observations from a succession of interviewee talking heads. But the drama is curiously unengaging and goes for cheap shots in the dialogue - would Prince Philip really refer to Margaret Thatcher as 'bloody grocer's daughter'? Would the Queen really ask 'is it gloves orf' when referring to the Press? The actresses playing the Queen do their best - Emilia Fox, Samantha Bond, and Barbara Flynn coming off perhaps more convincingly than Susan Jameson and Diana Quick. Ken Colley also does a good job as Prince Philip in the penultimate episode, which also features Paul Rhys as an intriguing Prince of Wales. Part of the interest of these kinds of series are the casting of actors you'd forgotten about - Doreen Mantle, for example, who plays the Queen Mother.

A disappointment, perhaps because some of the situations are just too close in time - perhaps because they are over-dramatised and obviously have no basis in fact. It is beautifully filmed though and well-researched - it is just that it doesn't really come across in the way it has been publicised. If 'her story is all our stories' we really do need to have more concrete evidence about what she is like.


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