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Bertie and Elizabeth (2002)

A chronicle of the life of George VI, who was forced to become King following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII, and his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth.

Director:

Giles Foster

Writer:

Nigel Williams
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Wilby ... Bertie
Alan Bates ... King George V
Eileen Atkins ... Queen Mary
Dolly Wells ... Princess Mary
William Mickleburgh ... James Stuart
Juliet Aubrey ... Elizabeth
Barbara Leigh-Hunt ... Lady Mabell Airlie
Rupert Wickham Rupert Wickham ... Equerry
Charles Edwards ... David
Alexandra Staden ... Young Woman
Nicholas Pritchard Nicholas Pritchard ... J.C. Davidson
Oliver Ford Davies ... Archbishop Lang
Geoffrey Beevers Geoffrey Beevers ... Earl of Strathmore
Deborah Cornelius ... Thelma Furness
Michael Elwyn ... Lionel Logue
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Storyline

The duke of York, nicknamed Bertie, was born as royal 'spare heir', younger brother to the prince of Wales, and thus expected to spend a relatively private life with his Scottish wife, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and their daughters, in the shadow of their reigning father, George V, and next that of his elder brother, who later succeeded to the British throne as Edward VIII. However, Edward decides to put his love for a divorced American, Wallis Simpson, above dynastic duty, and ends up abdicating the throne, which falls to Bertie, who reigns as George VI. He expects to be, as constitutional monarch, little more then a figure head, but again fate has other ideas: Nazi Germany proves such a formidable war challenger to the British Empire that the desperate nation looks to the royal couple as a comforting symbol of its unbroken spirit, a part they play with great success, while hosting chased monarchs and governments from continental Europe. After victory, life returns to normal, but ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

PBS [United States]

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 June 2002 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Bertie e Elizabeth See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tommy Lascelles (Paul Brooke) is depicted as the Private Secretary to Bertie from the start of his reign and certainly from the beginning of the war. In fact though he had been an Assistant Private Secretary since shortly before King George V's death, he was only promoted to the full role (directly dealing with the King and his boxes, for example) as late in the War as 1943. He remained at post for the rest of the King's reign, several years after retirement age, and into Elizabeth II's first year as Queen. It's best to think of the role as combining two real live persons (Sir Alec Hardinge and Sir Alan "Tommy" Lascelles) into one. See more »

Goofs

A British Movietone Newsreel, complete with commentary, shows the Duke of York attending the Empire Exhibition at Wembley. This visit took place in October 1925 - not only is this four years before Movietone News began in Britain, but it is two years before sound film was invented. The Exhibition was covered by British Pathe News but the film is of course silent. See more »

Quotes

[Edward VIII aka David is playing his own composition on the bagpipes]
Thelma Furness: I always think it's so clever to have the bagpipes as one's show-off, because no-one has the faintest idea whether you are playing them well... or badly.
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Connections

Featured in The Story of the Costume Drama: The Stars (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

If You Were the Only Girl (In the World)
(uncredited)
Music by Nat Ayer (as Nat D. Ayer)
Lyrics by Clifford Grey
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Glossy Retelling of the Life of King George VI and the Queen Mother
23 November 2015 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Before THE KING'S SPEECH (2010) there was BERTIE AND ELIZABETH, a glossy costume-drama concentrating on the public life of King George VI (James Wilby). Dominated by his tyrannical father (Alan Bates), and cast into the shadows by his playboy brother David (Charles Edwards), Bertie grows up almost afraid of his own shadow with a stammer that becomes more pronounced in stressful situations. He marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Juliet Aubrey), who becomes his emotional as well as his spiritual rock. Together they visit Lionel Logue (Michael Elwyn), the speech therapist who begins his treatment by having the three of them lying on the floor. Although somewhat confused by this unorthodox approach, Bertie agrees, and slowly acquires self-confidence.

Giles Foster's production celebrates Bertie/ King George for his selfless devotion to duty. Despite his character flaws, he accepts the job of being King and undertakes it to the best of his ability. His loyalty is contrasted with his brother's fecklessness; despite an obvious surface attractiveness, David is too self-interested to become an effective monarch. He would rather spend his time cavorting with Wallis Simpson (Amber Rose Sealey) and exchanging malicious gossip about his brother's shortcomings.

Inevitably this ninety-minute production telescopes historical events, especially towards the end of Bertie's life (the seven years between the end of World War II and his death in 1952 are perfunctorily dealt with). Yet this does not really matter: what is more important is to note the way Bertie learns how to deal with events - especially the privations of the London Blitz. The scene where he and Elizabeth visit London's East End in the wake of an air-raid is particularly effectively done, showing the way in which social divisions no longer mattered at that time: everyone shared similar experiences of suffering.

Aubrey's Queen Elizabeth comes across as an eminently practical personality with a pathological hatred of her brother-in-law. On the other hand she, like her husband, are loving parents, providing a safe and secure environment for Lillibet (Naomi Martin) and Margaret (Jenna Molloy) to grow up in.

BERTIE AND ELIZABETH might not be historically very exact, but it nonetheless celebrates those particularly British virtues of understatement and stoicism.


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