The Queen - miniseries

"Five actresses turn themselves into the Queen
for star-studded drama spanning 50 years
"

A new tv series to air in November on Channel 4 will highlight key moments in the Queen's reign that will be dramatised in five one hour-long episodes, read more...

Emilia Fox


Samantha Bond


Susan Jameson


Barbara Flynn


Diana Quick

In a five-part mini-series entitled The Queen, Emilia Fox, Samantha Bond, Susan Jameson, Barbara Flynn and Diana Quick each play a different age of Queen Elizabeth as she matures from the time when she first becomes queen to the current day. This is a fascinating look at the life of this woman who has reigned over the British people for almost 60 years.

The Episodes
Emilia Fox plays the young Queen Elizabeth in the first episode, which deals with her first crisis. It is a crisis of family. Her younger sister Margaret is a fun-loving young woman with none of the restraints of being queen, yet she comes up against the crown and her sister when she falls in love with a royal servant, Group Captain Peter Townsend, who divorces his wife to be with Margaret. Divorce is not an option in the royal household and the Church of England. The queen is the head of the Church of England and cannot sanction her sister’s marriage to Townsend. This sets up a family crisis and a soap-opera, which is carefully followed by the British people. In the end, of course, Margaret is persuaded to put duty ahead of her personal life.

The second episode focuses on the queen’s dilemma as the monarchy itself is in financial crisis and the economy of Britain is tumbling as well. This episode also portrays the attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne. The popularity of the monarchy is low, but so far the people still believe in the crown. Samantha Bond plays the queen in this part of her life.

Episode three shows the rift between the queen (Susan Jameson) and the first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. They did not like each other, which is obvious, and the queen disagreed with Thatcher’s stance on an embargo to South Africa in response to apartheid. Thatcher held tightly to her belief that an embargo would hurt the very people it was meant to help. These two strong women reigned over a difficult time in history.

The next episode focuses on the trouble within the royal family. The divorce between Andrew and Fergie damaged the family’s credentials, but not as much as the public soap opera between Diana and Charles. While the queen did not want them to divorce, after their dirty laundry was aired in public, she had no choice but to grant them one. The show does not deal with the death of Diana or its aftermath. This part of the queen’s life is glossed over. In this episode, the queen is played by Barbara Flynn.

The final episode centers on Charles and Camilla. It shows the disharmony between the queen (Diana Quick), Charles and Camilla. Camilla was the love of Charles’ life, but she was also the woman who came between Charles and Diana. And she was a divorced woman. As she did throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth had to change her views on issues to modernize with the times.

The Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth

When she first became queen, Elizabeth had the crisis of her sister and a divorced man. Margaret did not get to marry the love of her life, yet several decades later the queen’s son was placed in a similar situation and because the times were very different, he was allowed to marry Camilla.

The episodes are combinations of actual footage of the family combined with dramatizations with the five actresses playing the queen. It is a good portrayal of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth and brings a lot of the issues that have plagued the family and the country to the attention of the viewers. There are many issues which are not addressed, but in only five episodes, there was not enough time to get into each and every detail of the life of the queen.

For anyone interested in British history, this is an interesting series. It is not a glossy portrayal of the royal family. It brings together personalities with the issues of the time. It is both a history of Britain and the royal family, but mostly a look at how the monarchy has changed during the reign of Elizabeth.

Splitting up the episodes, and viewing the series in five installments is fine, but they do go quickly and viewing them in one afternoon or one evening is an interesting way to watch this fascinating story of the woman who has reigned since 1952.

Source: Suite101

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