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The Tichborne Claimant (1998)

Not Rated | | Drama | 12 November 1999 (UK)
Based on a true story, set in the late nineteenth century: Lord Tichborne, the ninth richest nobleman in England, disappears after a South American shipwreck. Some years later, his erudite ... See full summary »


David Yates


Sukey Fisher (as Joe Fisher)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Pugh ... The Claimant
John Kani ... Bogle
Stephen Fry ... Hawkins
John Gielgud ... Cockburn
Robert Hardy ... Lord Rivers
Rachael Dowling Rachael Dowling ... Mary Anne
Charles Gray ... Arundell
James Villiers ... Uncle Henry
Dudley Sutton ... Onslow Onslow
Paola Dionisotti ... The Dowager
Perry Fenwick Perry Fenwick ... John Holmes
Tom McCabe Tom McCabe ... Keneally
Christopher Benjamin ... Gibbes
Roger Hammond ... Cubitt
John Challis ... Rous the Landlord


Based on a true story, set in the late nineteenth century: Lord Tichborne, the ninth richest nobleman in England, disappears after a South American shipwreck. Some years later, his erudite Afro-English valet, Bogle, is sent to investigate rumors that Tichborne survived and settled in Australia. An alcoholic ruffian answer's Bogle's inquiries claiming to be the lost heir. Bogle suspects fraud, but conspires with the claimant to split the inheritance should the latter succesfully pass himself off to friends, family, and the courts. As the claimant returns to England to continue his charade, enough people confirm his identity to make both the claimant and Bogle believe that he just might be the rightful heir after all. Written by Grace Nall <gracenall@earthlink.net>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 November 1999 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Tichbornes arv See more »

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Did You Know?


The last movie of James Villiers (Uncle Henry) and Charles Gray (Arundell). See more »

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User Reviews

A very English tale of impostors, drunkards and racial abuse
24 May 2000 | by Nikos-12See all my reviews

Every inch a home-grown product, The Tichborne Claimant is a Victorian-set comedy-drama, based on a true story and featuring a whole host of British character actors. During the 1870s Sir Roger Tichborne, heir to the ninth largest estate in Britain, went missing, shipwrecked off Australia. Sure of his survival, his brother and manservant went to find him. When his brother died of alchohol abuse, the servant was stranded in Australia, the Tichborne family unwilling to pay for his return. This is where the story really begins. The servant, Andrew Bogle (John Kani), formerly an African slave, begins to look for Tichborne - or a passable imposter - in order to return to England and resume his old life. After years of searching, a fat drunkard (Robert Pugh) appears who is evidently Tichborne - or someone who knows an uncanny amount about him. They sail back to London, Bogle training Tichborne up to act like an aristocrat on the way. Unsurprisingly, his family claim he is an impostor and he is forced to take legal action to claim his estate. Both Pugh, a veteran stage actor, and Kani, a South African who survived three assassination attempts while campaigning against Apartheid, are excellent. Kani is both dignified and enigmatic, while Pugh is outrageous as the cigar-smoking, drunken Tichborne. A supporting cast of dozens of Britain's finest adds an enormous amount, with Stephen Fry and John Gielgud (who recently died, aged 96) particularly enjoyable as wonderfully odious members of the establishment. First-time director David Yates sustains a comfortable pace and establishes a stylised but believable vision of Victorian England. As in real life, we are never truly sure whether Tichborne is who he says he is and this helps to sustain the interest in the story throughout. Overall, an enjoyable film - witty, moving and interesting, a quiet alternative to the likes of Fight Club.

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