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Charles II - The Power and the Passion / The Last King




Thursday, July 15, 2004
US Emmy Award Nominations announced
The Last King
Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special (Dramatic Underscore)
The Last King • Part 2 • A&E • An A&E/BBC co-production

Sat Apr 17, 8:00 PM ET

LONDON -- It was another night of triumph for the BBC at the BAFTA TV Awards as the Beeb repeated its performance at the recent Royal Television Society program gong fest. .........
But the Beeb landed the drama serial gong for its raunchy costume skein, "Charles II: The Power and the Passion," starring Rufus Sewell (news).



A&E Network title Change - The Last King


Premieres: Sunday, Mar 21 @ 8pm ET/PTMovie. Sweeping drama about the turbulent reign of England's Charles II, the dashing king known for his many mistresses and court intrigues. Weary and destitute after his father's execution and a decade in exile, Charles restored the monarchy in 1660 and ruled for 25 years--a reign filled with religious strife, power brawls with Parliament, 1665's Great Plague, the Fire of London, and myriad royal liaisons with the most fetching women of his day. Stars Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg. (200  TV 14-S

About The Last King :

This original A&E production is the dramatic and romantic story of Charles II of England, the “merry monarch,” the last king to rule before Parliament completely took over the government. He loves racing, gambling, music, art and women. He sires over a dozen children with his many mistresses, yet his one marriage is barren. Charles’s England is torn between Catholics and Protestants, it’s a reign marked by revenge, plague, intrigue, pleasure and romance.

A&E ORIGINAL MOVIE: THE LAST KING begins when Charles is destitute, weary and hopeless after nearly a decade in exile from England. Even his oldest and dearest friend, the Duke of Buckingham, has abandoned him to make peace with the despicable Oliver Cromwell, the Protestant leader who now rules England. Finally, after Cromwell's death, Parliament is persuaded to invite Charles to return and take his place as king. On his 30th birthday, Charles rides into London in triumph. This long-awaited conquest is accompanied in short order by another one: Charles’s successful seduction of the beautiful and tantalizing Barbara Villiers. Barbara becomes the king’s mistress and confidently goes about preparing to welcome the queen-to-be: Catherine Braganza, a Portuguese princess. Barbara becomes Catherine’s chief lady-in-waiting. But when Catherine’s attempt at childbearing fails, pressure mounts for Charles to divorce and marry someone who would bear an heir. Barbara grooms the beautiful Frances Stewart for the role, but Frances is in love with another and flees the court. Charles’s marriage holds.

As an all-consuming fire rages through London, destroying wide swaths of the city. Charles and his brother James fight gallantly to contain it. Many see the fire as a sign of God’s judgment on Charles’s character and his licentious court. The sparkling, streetwise Nell Gwynn soon captures Charles’s affections – and another royal mistress is born. When Charles’s sister Minette dies unexpectedly, his sister’s beautiful lady-in-waiting Louise da Keroualle comforts the monarch. Such attention in his time of need also earns Louise a place the ranks of royal mistresses. With the violent struggles between Protestants and Catholics swirling around him, Charles is informed of a murder plot against him and of a plan to deny his brother James succession to the throne. So Charles simply dissolves Parliament and rules as absolute monarch. He lives his final years in relative peace and on his deathbed repays Catherine for her faithful devotion by converting to Catholicism.



Click here to see the photos from the movie.
Rufus Sewell
Read an excerpt of the interview with Rufus Sewell.


The Last King
Variety review

(Movie -- A&E, Sun. March 21, 8 p.m.)
Filmed in the Czech Republic by A&E and the BBC. Executive producers, Delia Fine, Laura Mackie; supervising producer, Emilio Nunez; producer, Kate Harwood; director, Joe Wright; writer, Adrian Hodges;
King Charles II - Rufus Sewell
Duke of Buckingham - Rupert Graves
Queen Henrietta Marie - Diana Rigg
Barbara Villiers - Helen McCrory
Sir Edward Hyde - Ian McDiarmid
Lord Shaftesbury - Martin Freeman
Queen Catharine - Shirley Henderson
Duke of Monmouth - Christian Coulson
Lady Frances Stewart - Alice Patter
Nell Gwynn - Emma Pierson
Louise de Keroualle - Melanie Thierry


The A&E/BBC co-production "The Last King" is a lush, entertaining look at Charles II, known as the "Merry Monarch" for his taste in wine, women, song -- and women. Four-hour treatment blends the high-spirited and the somber, focusing on a charismatic king who had to deal with a triple threat: the plague, the Great Fire of London and religious intolerance in the post-Cromwell era. Presentation will be an instant homerun with the Merchant-Ivory crowd, and will gain fans through repeated airings and upon a speedy DVD release next month.

Poor Charlie. His wife can't stop crying. His mistress is sleeping with his teenage son. His mother henpecks him, nattering on about how Louis down in France builds roads that are so much better.

It ain't easy being king.

Rufus Sewell is outstanding as a king who has been written off by historians as little more than a randy party boy. He brings texture and nuance to Charles, showing his resolve when Parliament gets out of hand, but becoming a softy when faced with a bawling girlfriend.

Joe Wright's direction of the biopic avoids the chockablock "page out of history" fragmentation that occurs so often in epics, using Charles' long-term paramours to link the tumult of the time to the king's strife with the women in his life. It also gives several actresses the chance to strut their stuff.

Shirley Henderson has a tough role to pull off as Charles' wife, the Portuguese Catharine of Braganza, without collapsing into a simpering mess. Even with electrocuted Princess Leia wigs and a lispy baby-talk affectation as she learns English, Henderson's perf brings sympathy to a role that could easily fall to stereotype.

Charles' long-term mistress Barbara Villiers is played with hiss-worthy glee by Helen McCrory. Fearful of losing her position (no pun intended) in the king's household, she sets up a series of machinations to win the confidence of the queen and Charles' eldest illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth (Christian Coulson).

The character of Nell Gwynn (Emma Pierson) is given short shrift considering her prominent stature in the folklore from the time. A sassy actress who wins the king's heart with her quick wit, Pierson has only a few scenes to show how Gwynn entranced the monarch and the people of England. She does so with witty aplomb; more of Pierson would have added another degree of levity to the piece.

Writing deftly gives a nod to Charles' well-known affinity for certain items -- spaniels, clocks and oranges, among them -- without going over the top.

"King" is the first A&E original movie to be presented in letterbox format. Version works well, giving perspective to the pic's sprawling landscapes and sets -- and, more often than not, wigs and robes.

One scheduling quibble: Playing the entire four hours at one sitting is a recipe for disaster. Ratings would be much improved if "King" was shown in miniseries format, as it was aired last year in the U.K.

The title refers to Charles' dissolving Parliament, thereby being the last king of England to attempt to rule on his own. In the British version, the title was the much more intuitive "Charles II -- The Power & the Passion."
thanks,  Rai

March 20, 2004
A Playboy King's Life
The New York Times

Hectic tableaus define "The Last King," the BBC's mini-series about thereign of King Charles II. This is a serviceable, if boring, English costume drama, yet the creators have tried, somewhat embarrassingly, to sex it up. A movie about a playboy king and his cloak-and-dagger court, set in a time of dissipation and spectacle, requires more austere staging, lest the whole
flamboyant sensibility be ladled on uncritically - and too thick. Costumes in "The Last King" are puffy and brocade, hair corkscrewed and tousled and encouraged to dominate the screen. Backdrops include extensive paneling, multipane windows, bright frescoes, elaborate statuary and eroded walls. Often, as in the opening scene of the beheading of Charles I, the action of the story is seen around some obstruction in the foreground: part of a window, curtains, slats of wood. Contributing to the visual chaos is a nervous, illogical camera.

Fortunately the plot, an afternoon's homework at Harrow, is easy to follow. After the execution of his father, Charles (Rufus Sewell) is living in exile in Antwerp. Attended only by very loyal friends, he is waiting, more or less, for the death of Oliver Cromwell. That death comes, and he's restored to the throne in England, where he is promptly married to the Portuguese princess Catharine of Braganza (Shirley Henderson, the Scottish actress with the frightening helium voice, who played Moaning Myrtle in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets").

In spite of marriage, the king retains several mistresses, and one with real nerve: Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory, who's great).

Between plague and fire, London hits rough patches during Charles's 25-year rule. His personal life is no less demanding. The movie, whose tagline is the cumbersome, "Power has always been a potent aphrodisiac," leaves a half-dozen bodices in tatters. Charles fathers children out of wedlock. The personal in turn becomes political as the bastards throw succession into
doubt. Various courtiers use this vulnerability in the line to advance Catholicism, as embodied by Charles's convert brother, James, (Charlie Creed-Miles) or Protestantism, as embodied by Charles's son Monmouth (Christian Coulson).

Martin Freeman (wry Tim from "The Office"- upholstered in robes, and acting dramatic!) plays the scheming Shaftesbury with surprising confidence and nerve; he actually talks out of the side of his mouth. Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham, rival of the king, gets somewhat lost in all the hair products and frippery. And Diana Rigg, lending her name and clout to the production in exchange for a few minutes of lackluster screen time, plays Queen Henrietta Marie, mother of the king.

As the man around whom it all revolves, Mr. Sewell is curiously absent. He speaks softly at times, almost lisping, especially when he's being affectionate with children, courtiers and mistresses; he seems rather less than a hero.

Though he has several shouting matches, he also stares; he's preoccupied. The actor himself comes across exhausted, spent, his eyes rimmed in red. All the stuff around him - the voices, the royal knickknacks, the family portraiture - seems to wear him out.

Who knows how the old English kings actually comported themselves? How drunk or tired or manic they would have struck us - in the small ways, that is, on which we base judgments of character?

In the midst of the cacophonous mise en scène here, Mr. Sewell offers an unusual, though marvelously convincing, hypothesis.


A&E, Sunday at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.
Directed by Joe Wright; written by Adrian Hodges; Kate Harwood, producer;
Delia Fine, executive producer; Emilio Nunuz, supervising producer; Laura
Mackie, executive producer for the BBC.
WITH: Rufus Sewell (Charles II), Rupert Graves (Duke of Buckingham), Diana
Rigg (Queene Henrietta Marie), Helen McCrory (Barbara Villiers), Ian
McDiarmid (Sir Edward Hyde), Shirley Henderson (Catharine of Braganza), Emma
Pierson (Nell  Gwynn)

thanks, Rai

People Magazine
Picks and Pans - TV Drama
March 29, 2004

The Last King
A&E (Sunday, March 21, 8 p.m. ET)

Baudiness ruled in the court of Englad's Charles II, a 17th-century monarch with a small army of mistresses and illegitimate children.  But political and religious disputes also competed for the king's time, along with a plague outbreak and a huge fire that devastated London.

It's hard to cover Charles's tumultous, 25-year reign in a four-hour film, and I confess I'm glad that the script stresses the sexy stuff.  When the king (Rufus Sewell) and his advisers discuss Protestant-Catholic hostility and Parliament's power of the purse, viewers who aren't students of this historical period will find their minds drifting to the question of which privy councillor has the curliest wig.

Sewell is effective as a man whose compassion and tolerance are less constant than his desire to retain powere and satisfy his lust. The main female roles compose a well-cast study in contrasts:Diana Rigg as Charles's rigid mother; Shirley Henderson as his mousy,loyal wife; Helen Mccrory as his scheming, sexually insatiable mistress-in-chief; and Emma Pierson as the saucy actress who makes the king her biggest fan.

rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 4


Press Release A&E Network

Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg Star in the A&E Network(R) Original Movie
Thursday January 8, 4:55 pm ET


A Four-Hour North American Premiere Airing Sunday March 21 at 8PM/7C HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- When the dashing Charles II celebrated his 30th birthday by returning from exile and reclaiming his throne, no one knew he would be the final British monarch to wield such power over his countrymen. A&E Network presents the North American Premiere of the A&E/BBC co-production THE LAST KING, starring Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and Diana Rigg. The four-hour Original Movie airs Sunday, March 21, 2004 at 8pm/7C.

THE LAST KING is the sweeping story of King Charles II's most turbulent life -- his tumultuous rule, his squabbling family and his numerous romantic indiscretions. Set at the crossroads of British history, just as the monarchy was being swept away by democracy. Charles II was a sensual and romantic man -- one who loved the arts almost as much as he loved women, and a politician who was willing to do nearly anything to keep his power.

Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale, "Helen of Troy") stars as Charles II. Rupert Graves ("The Forsythe Saga," The Madness of King George) is the Duke of Buckingham, Charles' trusted friend; Diana Rigg (VICTORIA & ALBERT, "The Avengers") is Queen Henrietta Maria, the King's volatile mother; Martin Freeman ("Ali G Indahouse," "The Office", Love Actually) is Shaftesbury, Charles's political nemesis and former minister; Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bridget Jones's Diary) is Queen Catherine; Christian Coulson (HORATIO HORNBLOWER, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) is the Duke of Monmouth, the eldest of Charles's illegitimate children; Charlie Creed Miles (Nil by Mouth) is Charles's brother James; Alice Patten is the demur Lady Francis Stewart, who manages to escape Charles's renowned sexual advances; Helen McCrory (The Count of Monte Cristo) is the aristocratic and promiscuous Barbara Villiers; Emma Pierson (Virtual Sexuality) is folk heroine and sex symbol Nell Gwynnel; and Melanie Thierry (The Legend of 1900) is the French spy Louise de Keroualle.

After nearly a decade in exile, Charles II is destitute, weary and virtually hopeless. Even the Duke of Buckingham, his oldest and dearest friend, abandons him to make peace with Oliver Cromwell, the military leader in control of Britain. Charles' hope is all but lost when Cromwell suddenly dies, and Cromwell's son takes his place.

But history takes a surprising turn when General George Monck persuades Parliament to invite Charles back into power. His triumphant ride into London on his 30th birthday is joined by another sweet conquest -- the long -- anticipated seduction of the alluring Barbara Villiers. With the witty and virile Charles siring illegitimate children all over the place, the need for a queen and a legitimate heir becomes paramount. Barbara is sufficiently confident not to feel threatened by the arrival of the future Queen, Catherine of Portugal, whose pious disposition at first is no match for the more worldly and cunning mistress.

Charles' reign is remembered as "Merry Olde England," but in truth, it was an extremely turbulent time politically, including a disastrous war with Holland. During his 25-year rule, England experienced virulent anti- Catholicism, and yet Charles himself secretly converted on his deathbed. The King was in fact a raucous gambler, a libidinous womanizer, the unapologetic father of at least seven illegitimate children, an impassioned lover of the arts, a ruthless political survivor, and the monarch who ultimately ushered in a true and lasting democracy -- whether he favored it or not!

Delia Fine serves as the executive producer for A&E Network® on THE LAST KING. It is directed by Joe Wright (Nature Boy) and produced by Kate Harwood (THE LOST WORLD). The teleplay is by Adrian Hodges (THE LOST WORLD, LORNA DOONE, "David Copperfield") and Laura Mackie is the executive producer for the BBC.
thanks, Nadine!!!

DVD(and VHS) Release: Region II February 16, 2004

Amazon.co.uk Review
One of the better BBC costume dramas of recent years, 2003's Charles II: The Power and the Passion depends very strongly on its central performance. Fortunately,
Rufus Sewell is admirable throughout as the saturnine, witty monarch who has retained popular fondness down the centuries in spite of his conscientious adherence to the bad and losing cause of absolute monarchy. Adrian Hodge's intelligent script dramatises the issue in quick sound bites--many politicians accepted the Restoration to avoid chaos and were determined to bring Charles to heel, whereas he was determined to defend the position for which his father had been martyred. If that meant handing the throne to his Catholic brother in default of a legitimate son of his own, so be it.
The four hour-long episodes cover the Restoration, the Plague and the Fire of London, the secret treaties with France and the Popish Plot, as well as giving us a fair bit of Charles's moderately happy marriage to Catherine (Shirley Henderson in the most hideously accurate historical hairdos ever) and his affairs with various mistresses. Among a number of fine supporting performances, Rupert Graves stands out as Buckingham, the friend who betrayed Charles. This sort of costume drama only ever works if the acting is as good as it is here.

On the DVD: Charles II on disc comes with a making-of documentary and a commentary on the first episode from writer Adrian Hodge and the director and producer. It also includes an extended documentary on Charles's back story--his education, his attempt to fight Cromwell's forces, his period on the run in England and his long exile--in which a number of eminent historians, including Richard Holmes and Ronald Hutton, talk about how he became the king he was. --Roz Kaveney

A drama which takes the viewer to the Royal Court of Charles II. Mistresses, French spies and Nell Gwynn inhabit the court. England meanwhile suffers the Plague and the Great Fire.

suntimeschasSM.jpg (14184 bytes)
by Gary (The Sunday Times)

New Charles II Gallery


New BBC Charles II website Message board
This is the place to discuss the drama and, exclusively, read Rufus's answers to selected questions!

Radio Times
The King of Cool
read the interview

CharlesIIRadioTimes1crpt.jpg (113644 bytes)       CharlesII RTpt2crpt.jpg (181796 bytes)

 The People Magazine
November 9, 2003

   CharlesIIPeople(UK)pic2.jpg (44760 bytes)                  CharlesIIPeople(UK)4.jpg (95592 bytes)
   Finishing off the royal moustache         Rufus has his royal wig put in place. 'It was really sweltering during filming in
  Rufus had his hair cropped so he           Prague but we took off our wigs for some scenes," he says.
  could wear big wigs.
   CharlesIIPeople(UK)6.jpg (358936 bytes)                               CharlesIIPeople(UK)5HelenMcCrory.jpg (209320 bytes)
Charles II looks at a portrait of his late father.   Set in           Striking a suitably seductive pose, Barbara Villiers
one of the great rooms at the Palace of Whitehall,                  the King's scheming mistress, played bu Helen McCrory,             
Charles's quarters were based on rooms at Hampton            awaits her would be lover - Charles's illegitimate son
Court by Sir Christopher Wren, recreated in Prague.            the Duke of Monmouth.                                                                                                                                                                                   

   CharlesIIPeople(UK)3martinfreeman.jpg (124300 bytes)    
The Office star Martin Freeman as Lord Shartesbury, one
of Charles's most important ministers.  "The director had
seen me do serious stuff before and he thought I could do
this part," Martin says.  "I only hope I've  pulled it off."

Some things never change, like being entertained by a host of royals behaving badly.  and with the return of the hunky Rufus Sewell - star of A Kinght's Tale - as the charismatic but devious 17th Century monarch, King Charles II, we're in for a royal treat.

Set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, BBC1's new four-part spectarular begins with the young king in exlie before he returns to England and transforms into the infamous Merry Monarch, before his death in 1685.  Rufus, 36, was thrilled to give Hollywood a break and return to the small screen.

"It was the personal side of Charles that I found most fascinating," he says.  "He was a very manipulative man but he did have a blind spot - women."
His many mistresses included the beautiful Barbara Villiers, played by Helen McCrory, and theatre star Nell Gwynne, played by Emma Pierson.  He was married to the virginal Queen Catherine of Braganza (Shirley Henderson), who was unable to bear him a child, but he had several illegitimate ones from his numerous conquests.

Says Rufus:  "It was embarrassing filming all the bedroon scenes, but they had to look as real as possible.   You don't acrually see that much, which is good because watching people bump and grind can be boring.  But it does look as if we've really been going for it!"
Charles IIm BBC1 Sunday, November 16, 9 pm

November 15, 2003
The Times

The bling bling king
Joanna Hunter survives royalty, rakes, fops and fools on the set of Charles II

AT FIRST COUNT, there are 19 people watching over the director’s monitor in the castle forecourt. A few feet away is a horse-drawn carriage and, above it, standing on a raised platform, Rufus Sewell and Charlie Creed-Miles recheck their flowing lace cuffs and shoulder-length periwigs. Orders are being shouted, first in English, and then in Czech. It’s 37C (88F) at Tocnik Castle, near Prague; the horses are restless and, once again, the “royal” spaniels have disgraced themselves. But then nobody said it would be easy playing a king.

Yes, after Ray Winstone as Henry VIII and Prunella Scales playing Queen Victoria comes yet another historical drama. Charles II, starring Sewell in the title role, is a four-part BBC drama. And while viewers might be forgiven for crying off the programme with history fatigue, Charles II comes with an emphasis on the individual — “someone learning to be the master of their own destiny ”, as the director Joe Wright puts it. “I can’t stand dry politics and dry history,” he says. “It has to be engaging on a personal level. It’s more important that people can relate to it in terms of their relationship with their children, or their lovers, or their wives, or even themselves.”

The appealing thing about Charles II, especially when compared with Henry VIII and Victoria, is that it is refreshingly unfamiliar. Charles, who reigned from 1660-85, remains an enigmatic figure. His father was beheaded, but Charles junior survived both Cromwell and exile to retake the throne at the age of 30 — which is where the BBC’s drama starts. Once on the throne Charles didn’t face an easy ride, what with the warring Dutch abroad, the bitter and bloody Protestant-Catholic divide at home, the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.

Constitutionally, Charles is important because he was the last British king to attempt to rule absolutely without Parliament. He was also something of a dandy, with a penchant for shoulder-length curly wigs and a court that was renowned — or, according to many of Charles’s puritan subjects, notorious — for its flamboyance.

“What strikes you is how bling bling it is,” says Rupert Graves, who, as Charles’s mercurial best friend, the Duke of Buckingham, gets to wear more than his fair share of finery. “They went in for really aggressive shows of grandeur, just dripping in gold with huge hair and make-up. It was very sexy.” It was indeed: on top of his regal duties the King also found time for 12 mistresses and 13 illegitimate children.

The booty culture isn’t the only parallel that can be drawn between the Restoration period and today. “One of the things about a political story like this is that there’s no limit to what you can say, you can even exaggerate it — no one is going to sue,” says Graves. “And there are so many parallels between then and now. Politically, Charles creates a Parliament and a King’s Council, which are like new Labour. The Dutch war stuff is very similar to the Iraqi war, too, with people saying the same sort of things, such as ‘it’ll be over in a week’ and ‘we have to get rid of these tyrants’.” But he is too tactful to mention any points of comparison between contemporary royals and their paramours.

If the monarch’s life sounds epic, this production is not far off that either. Sewell lords it over a line-up that includes Dame Diana Rigg as Henrietta Maria, the King’s mother, and Ian McDiarmid as his chief minister Sir Edward Hyde. As well as such stalwarts, Charles II gives several actors — such as Martin Freeman from The Office, and Creed-Miles, better known for his roles in Nil By Mouth and The Fifth Element, but here playing a king — the chance to take on roles that audiences might not expect of them.

“You look around the court scene and the actors and you think: ‘Wow — these are people I really like’, ” says Freeman, who, despite the fact that he is playing it straight for a change, as Charles’s nemesis, Shaftesbury, is no mean shakes in the popularity stakes himself. “It’s not the usual suspects,” Freeman continues. “We’re all young enough to still be hungry, not all too fat and complacent having done this 20 times. We’re really keen to do it well. And that’s why it’s great to work with someone like Ian McDiarmid. Whenever I’m in doubt I just look at what he’s doing and try to copy it. I’m just doing a really bad imitation of him. He’s probably quite embarrassed about it.”

Even if it weren’t for the big names, the sheer size of the cast would be daunting — add a further 101 speaking characters, as well as some 1,500 extras, and you can see that the BBC means business. The number-crunching doesn’t stop with the cast, either. Wright’s vision doesn’t just encompass an era, but a whole world. And so, owing to a lack of suitable buildings in Britain and, of course, the strength of the pound against the koruna, the entire production was moved to the Czech Republic. There they used 14 different locations, and even recreated Whitehall — what was a disused car factory in Prague became a 150ft by 80ft (45x24m) set, with all 14 rooms laid out exactly as if they were in the palace and decorated with 20 paintings and glass that was hand-blown locally.

“The fact that the sets have been built so that you can walk from one room to another, the way that you can in a normal house — you’ve got your bedroom that leads to your little closet that leads to your little kingly velvet toilet — means you’re not constantly reminded that it’s a fake,” says Sewell. “It’s a big help. Generally in films, when you walk through a door, it’s all polystyrene, so you have to work harder to put yourself in that world.”

At Tocnik Castle (where most of the exteriors were being shot in June earlier this year) they have created more of that world, including reconstructing a London street (with three six-storey Tudor buildings), the Holbein Gate, which used to stand at the entrance to Whitehall Square, and the Houses of Parliament. At this stage the only thing they have yet to plan is how they are going to tackle the Great Fire of London.

“If I could change one historical fact I would boot out the fire of London,” admits the producer, Kate Harwood. No such luck.

Other historical details have proved easier to deal with. With so many mistresses, viewers might be forgiven for hoping that Charles II might have a deal of royal romping. “When you read the script you do think, ‘Goodness, there’s a lot of shagging’,” says Sewell, who, as Charles, is involved in most of it. “But it’s actually only with one of the characters that you see them in bed together. I mean it’s actually quite boring watching people in bed.”

Hmm. But in the meantime Sewell seems to be getting enough kicks from playing a king. “During rehearsals you’re worrying what makes people kingly,” he says, “and my theory was that what makes you kingly is people doing what you want them to. When we first had lessons in courtly behaviour we did this exercise. When I walked in the room everyone stood up, and moved when I moved, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is nice!’ You’ve got to be careful: 12 weeks of people deferring to you physically — it’s dangerously pleasant at first. But,” he counters, checking himself, “it does get pretty tedious in the end.”

Yeah. Right.
Charles II begins on Sunday, BBC One, 9pm

many thanks to Gillian and Rai!

Teletext website:


Sewell: Royal role

Sewell's purple patch

Actor Rufus Sewell says he's nothing like the bed-hopping king he plays in BBC1's lavish £4m drama Charles II — The Power & The Passion
.While on screen he romps with beauties playing the merry monarch's mistresses, off-screen the 35-year-old is more likely to be bouncing his 19-month-old son Billy on his knee. Rufus, who lives with girlfriend Amy Gardener, says: "I've never been away from him since he was born, which has been lovely."He took his family with him to Prague to film the drama. "It was very child friendly. Billy came for lunch on the set every day," Sewell recalls."I have never wanted to be a father who is away filming for three months and then comes back to find that his son has grown another 12 inches."

Thoughts of Hollywood fame were put on hold when he was offered the part.  He'd just bought an apartment in Los Angeles in a bid to further his film career when he got the call. He immediately decamped to Prague where it was filmed and then returned to the Czech city to shoot the movie Tristan & Isolde. He adds: "We sold the house in London to go to LA but now the flat in LA is gathering dust."  Sewell says he found Charles II a fascinating man to play. "Before I played him I had this image of chocolate oranges and Nell Gwynn, spaniels and breasts.   But he was very complex. He was a weak man and a strong man. He was tough and sentimental. He was quite moral and he was a naughty old man.  We've also avoided having spaniels coming out of our ears — there is just the odd one."
Sewell defends the raunchy sex scenes in the drama. The opening episode on November 16, which focuses on Charles's time in exile and the restoration of the monarchy after Cromwell's death, features seven bedroom romps, including an oral sex scene featuring Rupert Graves as Charles's pal the Duke of Buckingham and Helen McCrory as the king's mistress Barbara Villiers.  "I think it's boring watching sex for hours. There's more to Charles II than just sex," he insists.

As well as Sewell, Rupert Graves and Helen McCrory, Charles II features a well-known cast.  Dame Diana Rigg plays the king's mother Henrietta Maria, The Office's Martin Freeman is Lord Shaftesbury, Ian McDiarmid, of Star Wars, is Sir Edward Hyde and Alice Patten, daughter of ex-Tory chairman Chris Patten, portrays the virginal Lady Frances Stewart.  Sewell says he suffered for his art in the heat of Prague.  "I had to wear a wig which had the texture of a horse's backside but luckily I could take it off now and again as it felt like wearing Brillo. I also had to wear a velvet costume and it weighed a quarter of a ton."  For Charles's death scene he had to shave his head. "He had a stroke and the doctors shaved him and carried out grotesque treatments," he says.

Sewell first shot to prominence as Will Ladislaw in the BBC's Middlemarch in 1994 and he then appeared in Cold Comfort Farm.  Since then his star has risen steadily with film Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel And Laurence and the blockbuster movie A Knight's Tale. More recently he's played Agamemnon in the mini-series Helen Of Troy and in the film Tristan & Isolde he plays Lord Marke.

Pick of the day:
16 November 2003

Charles II — The Power And The Passion

Lavish Restoration romp starring Rufus Sewell as the Merry Monarch. Far from being a bodice ripper, this four-parter looks at the man behind the image of womanising, oranges and spaniels. It reveals how he was tormented by the execution of his father Charles I, and often manipulated by women, notably his mother played by Dame Diana Rigg. It's a feast for the eyes and the acting is good, too.

Pick of the day:
17 November 2003

The Boy Who Would Be King

Documentary on the formative years of Charles II following the start of the £4m BBC1 drama about the Merry Monarch. It examines the events — including the execution of his father Charles I — which led to his contradictory character. At times charming, sex-obsessed and unprincipled, the king, who was bedhopping at the age of 15, was also courageous and a brilliant strategist.

thanks, Gillian and Rai!

Radio Times
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
And In Today's Lesson

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Many of us tend to believe that what we see in historical dramas is based on real events. But is Charles II more fiction than fact?
read the article

BBC Listings - Sunday, November 16
Charles II: The Power And The Passion
Sun 16 Nov, 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm  60mins
The opening episode of this drama sees Charles Stuart restored to the throne after years spent in exile from Republican England. Abandoned by his oldest friend, the Duke of Buckingham, Charles II has reached his lowest ebb when the sudden death of Oliver Cromwell galvanises the Royalist cause. Only one man can unite the nation and prevent a return to Civil War. Charles's triumphant restoration is sealed by another victory; the long anticipated seduction of beautiful Barbara Palmer. With virile Charles spawning a growing hoard of illegitimate children, the need to secure the succession becomes paramount. Confident of her pre-eminence in Charles's affections, Barbara insists on becoming chief among the new Queen's ladies-in-waiting. A surprising show of spirit from mousy Queen Catharine awakens Charles's interest but she cannot hope to match wily Barbara who will stoop to any level to hang on to her power.
Contains explicit sexual scenes and scenes of a violent nature.
Stereo  Widescreen  

Website:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/charles/

Charles II: The Power And The Passion
Sun 16 Nov, 10:00pm - 11:00 pm  60 mins  

Part two of this major new drama starring Rufus Sewell, Helen McCrory, Rupert Graves and Martin Freeman.
A fiery comet in the sky is rumoured to portend doom on Charles's reign. Beset by plague and war, and embroiled in bitter wrangles with Parliament as he battles to keep his Catholic brother James in line to the throne, Charles is forced to sacrifice his trusty minister Sir Edward Hyde.
As the Queen fails to produce a legitimate heir, Charles comes under pressure to divorce and remarry. His roving eye fixes on demure Frances Stewart, but is Charles prepared to jettison loyal Catharine too?

Stereo  Widescreen  

The Telegraph Magazine
25 October 2003

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read the article
thanks, Margaret from Ireland!

The Sun Online
Thursday, November 6, 2003

The Loin King

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RANDY Charles II gets a firm grip on Lady Castlemaine Barbara Villiers in the BBC’s new    bodice-ripping drama. The saucy royal, played by Rufus Sewell, seduces a string of women in the drama, which starts on BBC1 on November 16.
Barbara Villiers, played by Helen McCrory, had six children after becoming Charles’ lover in 1660. Helen said: “Barbara Villiers has an unabashed hedonism that makes her magnetic. She was described as an uncrowned queen. “Here was a really unusual woman who was a political animal as much as she was a sexual animal. “She was a tough cookie and a clever woman.”
thanks, Rai!!

The Daily Mail Weekend Magazine
October 25, 2003
cover story
: A Very Merry Monarch 

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His Majesty's Pleasures

The BBC's new 5 million pound bodice-ripper, a drama about the life and loves of Charles II, needed a smouldering star to playa king who seduced the world's most beautiful women.  Step forward Rufus Sewell, the sexiest screen icon since Mr Darcy though,as he tells Lester Middlehurst, he's really a family man at heart.

read the interview plus more pictures
thanks Gillian and Rai!

News from BBC1
BBC1 website with preview clips and screensavers

Charles II - The Power & The Passion
press pack is available below in PDF format, as a complete pack or in sections.You may require Adobe Acrobat Software to read PDF files which can be obtained here.
Full Charles II - The Power & The Passion press pack (890 KB)
Cast and crew (41 KB)
Cast interviews (400 KB)
The women of the Court (260 KB)
Additional cast information (97 KB)
Transforming the Czech Republic into 17th-century England
(197 KB)
Synopses (137 KB)
The Mistresses of Charles II & 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charles II and his Reign (113 KB)
Charles II (1630-1685) (79 KB)
Family tree (60 KB)
Key events 1645-1685 (41 KB)
Accompanying documentaries (98 KB)

thanks, Rai!!

TV's racy romp with Charles II
The Telegraph (UK)
By Tom Leonard, Media Editor
(Filed: 23/10/2003)

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Rufus Sewell as Charles II

A £4 million BBC drama about Charles II will portray him as a "modern-style patriarch presiding over an extended, dysfunctional family" and unable to trust anyone, the corporation said yesterday.
Rufus Sewell plays the Stuart king in a four-part serial that will stay true to the BBC's determinationto serve up history with a resonance for a modern audience. Aside from noting that he hid in "all the oak trees he could find . . . and thus very romantic", 1066 And All That had
little to say about Charles II other than that he was "always very merry and was therefore not so much a king as a monarch".
The BBC's take on the monarch is predictably more colourful and will revolve around his torrid private life in a drama it describes as a "dynamic romp - racy, visceral and violent".
Charles II also stars Diana Rigg, as Charles's mother, Henrietta Maria, and Helen McCrory as one of his mistresses, Barbara Villiers. Alice Patten, the youngest daughter of Chris Patten, plays Lady Frances Stuart, a young virgin who escapes Charles's sexual advances.Jane Tranter, the BBC's head of drama commissioning, said the serial would portray Charles as "charming, devious and manipulative by turns" and presiding "over an extended, dysfunctional family like a modern patriarch".
Although the corporation was wary about drawing too clear a parallel with today's Royal Family, the drama's writer, Adrian Hodges, claimed that many of the issues that preoccupied the king "have a disturbingly contemporary resonance".The portrayal "did not sound over-played", said the historian David Starkey."He was an extraordinary man - a master of deviousness, he used wit as an instrument and his sexuality had an almost desperate quality," he said.


November 2003

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read the article


The Daily Mail
October 24

A ruthless mistress for randy Charles

Helen McCrory wipes off her make-up as we chat about royal bed-chamberWe're on location in a castle courtyard at Lednice in Moravia, where the actress has been filming scenes for Charles II: The Power and The Passion.   She portrays the vivacious Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, who enjoyed many merry romps with Charles before and during his reign, and bore him several children

When McCrory first meets Rufus Sewell's Charles she sweeps forward to curtsey, her bosom heaving in a red velvet gown, inclines her head, and gently brushes his breeches with her nose. 'She's a predator,' Ms McCrory agrees.

One historian described Lady Castlemaine as a 'magnificent creature' and Ms McCrory has brought her to life with brilliant visual flourishes that give you an absolute sense of who this woman was. ''She's like an animal. You admire her because she's so carnal and ruthless - but you also loathe her because she doesn't appeal to any of the higher points of humanity, like trust or faith or love or hope. 'She has none of it - she has to be a realist and pragmatist.'

Within moments of meeting Charles (after ditching her husband, Lord Palmer), she has him in be McCrory has a commanding presence. She walks into the monarch's chambers, shouts 'Get Out!' to the courtiers attending Charles, and lets a beautiful cape fall to the floor. The nudity is brief, but the effect electric.

In fact, director Joe Wright films such moments with lustful, yet tasteful passion. It's not he kind of vulgar bonking we've seen in many costume dramas.

Lady Castlemaine is, of course, one of several women in Charles's life. They include Shirley Henderson as his wife Catharine of Braganza, Emma Pierson as Nell Gwynn, Melanie Thierry as Louise de Keroualle and Alice Pattern as Lady Frances Stewart - who spurned the regal overtures.

Castlemaine used her sexuality as a means of survival. 'Barbara was a very ruthless and ambitious woman who really has no alternative but to use her sexuality and her intellect because she has nothing else to bargain with,' McCrory says. 'I've had bedsores filming this part. There are a lot of bedroom scenes, 'she jokes as she lists the men she sleeps with. 'There's Charles, his son, my cousin - not to mentionJohn Churchill, who I pay £500 to spend the night with!   You see men behaving in that way and it's sort of seen as Jack-the-lad and rather sort of naughty boy and it's all great fun. But if a woman does it she's a bitch, or: 'What a whore!' So in a sense, Barbara's a very masculine creature.'
Costume designer Mike O'Neill and director Wright met to discuss the drama's 'look'.

Wright, whose parents ran a puppet theatre in North London, told me, 'I can remember my mum said you could always identify the witch because she always wore green and red.'

Consequently, Barbara wears bloody reds and acid greens, while the quiet, but at times fiery, Catharine wears dark colours. When we see her, she looks like a giant bat.

The four-part drama looks at how Charles regained the throne and battled over his women and religion. We see how Barbara fights to retain her position, and how, in the end, the fight breaks her.

The performances of Ms McCrory, Ms Henderson and Mr Sewell capture the essence of the pain - and fun - of their frolics. The drama hits BBC1 next month.
thanks, Rai!


16 October 2003

News on the latest BBC dramas

Charles II - The Power and The Passion
This four-part drama begins in November 2003 on BBC ONE.
'Charles II The Power and The Passion'
The Charles II website is live from late October 2003.

A dynamic romp through history - racy, visceral and violent – Charles II is set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict between monarch and State was at a crossroads. Starring Rufus Sewell as King Charles II, Rupert Graves, Helen McCrory, Martin Freeman, Dame Diana Rigg and Ian McDiarmid.

The drama focuses on the court of King Charles II, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses – from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory) through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne, to French spy Louise de Keroualle (Mélanie Thierry).


From the pen of award-winning screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield and The Lost World, this ambitious and original take on Charles’s reign penetrates to the heart of the charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatised by the execution of his father.

To cRufus Sewell as 'Charles'omplement the drama, BBC ONE is also showing two documentaries, The Boy Who Would be King and Oliver Cromwell - Warts and All.

The Charles II website is live from late October 2003.




thanks, Gillian and Rai

October 6, 2003

Saturday fare proves troublesome


LONDON -- If Blighty's terrestrial players have one thing in common, it's that they're all struggling with he problem of Saturday night.

Top of the flops this year was Chris Evans' Channel 4 gameshow "Boys and Girls," which was relegated to a late-night slot before being canned. ITV's diet of movies, gameshows and comedy failed to lift it out of a summer slump, while the return of "Fame Academy," the BBC's answer to "Pop Idol," didn't deliver for the pubcaster. With viewers switching to pay channels, DVDs and videogames, primetime auds on Saturday nights have dropped to 18.1 million in 2003 compared with 19.3 million in 1995. The BBC is beginning its campaign to have its charter -- and its public funding -- renewed. With this in mind, more public service fare will likely be skedded in primetime.

This quarter sees a slew of history programming in BBC1's $350 million fall sked -- from drama "Charles II," starring Rufus Sewell, Diana Rigg and Rupert Graves, to docs "Pompei: The Last Day" and "Colosseum."

That trend is likely to continue until the Beeb secures future funding in 2006. Whether this will stop the pubcaster from forking out a reported $8 million for U.S. pics like "Harry Potter" and bidding for series like "24" remains to be seen. Commercial web Five is doing a remarkable job of moving away from down-market fare and winning auds with factual fodder. The 6-year-old web may have the smallest budget of the terrestrial players at £157 million ($246 million), but it is attracting two-thirds (6.5%) of the audience achieved by rival Channel 4 (9.7%), which has a budget of $609 million. What's missing from the Five schedule is laffers. Managing editor Jeff Ford says he'll be looking to find the right U.S. show that complements the sked. "Films don't always deliver in the ratings, which is why we've gone down the one-hour U.S. drama route." C4 has desperately tried to draw back auds with shows such as reality series "14 Alone," in which a group of teenage boys and girls are filmed in a house for five days. Chief exec Mark Thompson is driving the broadcaster back to the more thought-provoking fare it launched with in 1982. Dominant commercial broadcaster ITV has a budget of $1.26 billion, a new program director -- Nigel Pickard -- and has reversed the decline, albeit modestly, in primetime. Big dramas this fall include "Henry VIII," starring Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham Carter, and the return after a seven-year hiatus of "Prime Suspect" starring Helen Mirren.
Date in print: Mon., Oct. 6, 2003


The Independent
3 October 2003
Serial Killers:

Whatever happened to the epic TV dramas of old? Simple, says James Morrison, they got squashed. So how do you tell
the story of Henry VIII in just two parts? And can the condensed 'Colditz' ever live up to the 1970s original?

................The Deal lasted 90 minutes, while ER star Alex Kingston's portrayal of the life of England's most celebrated
warrior queen was crammed into a two-hour film. Henry VIII has been given a comparatively generous four hours, over two
episodes, and next month's BBC 1 dramatisation of the life and loves of Charles II, starring Rufus Sewell, has the
same running time, but over four nights

the complete story

Radio Times 
September 15, 2003

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thanks Gillian and Rai!


First reported by Rupert Graves Online
March 15, 2003

Rupert Graves and Rufus Sewell will begin filming a new BBC drama - Charles II in mid April.
Rufus will play Charles, and Rupert will play Buckingham. More details to follow....

History dominates BBC One line-up
Tuesday, 29 July, 2003


History programmes are to form the backbone of BBC One's £220m autumn schedule for 2003.

The line-up includes two big budget documentaries: Colosseum, about Roman gladiators, and Pompeii - The Last Day, a recreation of the last hours of the doomed city which was smothered by a volcano.

"I'm prepared to bet that viewers will come to a schedule that is as rich as this is," said BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey.

The schedule includes historical dramas such as Charles II, starring Rufus Sewell as the king, alongside Dame Diana Rigg and Rupert Graves.

The drama is described as a "dynamic romp through history".

Ms Heggessey added: "We've become the nation's favourite and I intend to keep it that way."
thanks Nadine and Rai!!

RufusCzechsoutCharles2.jpg (141980 bytes)

by Baz Bamigboye  Daily Mail 20 June

Rufus Sewell, sporting a curly wig he describes as having the texture of a 'horses's ass', strolls past an Acacia tree and chats with fellow actor David Bradley.  The scene takes in a beautifully clipped yew hedge, an oak tree and beds of roses, catnip, sage and delphinium - a picturesque view of a grand English garden, or so it would seem.  Sewell is portraying Charles II in a 5.5 million pound four-part drama that the BBC is filming in what is supposed to be Oxford, where the king decamped to escape the plague.

In fact, we're in Moravia.  The castle of Lednice, to be precise - a three-hour drive from Prague.  The cast, led by Sewell, have been shooting the public, and some very private, aspects of the Monarch's life, on various locations in the Czech Republic.

Shirley Henderson plays Charles's long-suffering wife Catherine.  The other women in his life are Helen McCrory as the scheming Lady Castlemain; Emma Pierson as Nell Gwyn; French newcomer Melanie Thierry as Louise de Keroualle; and Alice Patten as Lady Frances Stewart - who spent years spurning his regal advances.

Director Joe Wright and producer Kate Harwood realised their budget wouldn't stretch far in the UK - and the hunt for locations would have been hellishly difficult.  But the cast and crew seem to have taken to life in Prague.  There's a sense of camaraderie on the set.  I can't name names, but when the lads spot a comely lass they nudge each other and go, in smoothest Leslie Phillips: 'Tick-tock, who's the new nurse?'

Alice Patten - the one who got away - finished her scenes yesterday.  'She just said No!' the actress laughed.  'She ended up as the face of Britannia on coins, even though she didn't give Charles what he wanted.'

Sewell was in LA when approached by Wright and Harwood.  'I knew that if I was going to do it, it would depend on what Joe's vision was for the drama and I liked what he said, so I said Yes.'

But, until then, Sewell admitted his view of Charles had been a comical one.  'My idea of Charles II was based on those old Cadbury's chocolate Orange adverts, where he goes to the theatre with Nell Gwynn and you have these enormous bazooms with Nell G going: "Have an Orange, Charlie," and that was basically my idea of him.  But that's all changed now,' said Sewell, suitably seriously, lifting his wig and scratching his shaved head underneath.

The drama looks at the intrigue behind how Charles regained the throne, and at court gossip and politics of the time.  It will be broadcast on BBC1 in November.

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Thanks Rai and Gillian!!!!


21 June 03  
Daily Mail "Weekend"

24 hours in the life of the BBC -

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Lester Middlehurst 
It is 8AM and already the temperature on the set of the BBC's lavish new costume drama, Charles II, has reached 38 degrees C. Actor Rufus Sewell has just come out of make-up, where he has been for several hours so his handsome features can be aged in readiness for the king's death scene. We are inside a warehouse outside Prague in the Czech Republic, in which a set has been built to represent the Palace of Whitehall. The atmosphere is stifling because of the excessive heat.
Sewell, however, is in good spirits, joking with the cast and crew. Despite the enormity of his role - he appears in virtually every scene of the four part drama to be screened in late autumn - he is clearly relishing the challenge. He and his girlfriend Amy had just moved to Los Angeles with their baby son Billy when he was offered the part of Charles II.   It is expected to do for his career what Pride and Prejudice did for Colin Firth's, yet before he was cast, he had decided to spend six months of the year in America to pursue a film career.
He had just signed a lease on Rock Hudson's former Hollywood home when he had to decamp and return to Europe.  Like most of the team, he is renting an apartment in Prague so his family can be with him and every lunchtime Amy brings Billy to the set, says producer Kate Harwood, "Quite a lot of the cast and crew have young children with them and it's lovely to see them all playing together on the set at lunchtimes. Even though we're working incredibly hard there is a great social scene here.  There are quite a few party animals involved in this production so there have been a lot of late-night parties on the nights before days when we aren't shooting."
Sewell was first choice for the title role of the pounds 4 million epic, but originally turned down the offer because he was committed to a film in the US , but it fell through.   "We were absolutely thrilled to get him," said Harwood.   "Rufus has tremendous presence and natural authority and the camera loves him. He's so charming and people say the Charles was either the most cynical, ruthless king in history or the most charming.  Rufus has the ability to show both sides of the man.   It's a massive part for him but he's doing it with such good humour.
 'Charles II is quite racy and bloody,' explains Harwood. 'Charles' private life is a huge part of the story.'  The bedroom scenes promise to be particularly raunchy as much of the script deals with the randy monarch's amorous exploits.  Helen McCrory plays his manipulative promiscuous mistress, Barbara Villiers;  Emma Pierson is Neil Gwynne, and Shirley Henderson is his long-suffering, barren wife.  The cast also includes Diana Rigg as Charles Mother, Henrietta Maria, and Alice Patten, the youngest daughter of former Hong Kong Governor Chris, plays the virginal Lady Frances who manages to escape the Kings sexual advances.
So far there has been only one major technical hitch, explains Kate. "There's an airfield nearby and planes are coming over as we are filming.  We persuaded them to limit their flying lessons to early mornings and during our lunch breaks.  They have been so co-operative.  I can't imagine an English airfield being quite so helpful."
Thanks, Nadine!!!! 


Matt Wells, media correspondent
Wednesday July 30, 2003
The Guardian

Top of the Pops, the longest-running music show on British television, is facing a make-or-break overhaul as the BBC faces up to the slump in singles sales and the fragmentation of the pop industry.
Andi Peters, a former children's television presenter, has been appointed to do a revamp to make it more relevant. The BBC1 controller, Lorraine Heggessey, even suggested yesterday that its long-term future on the channel was not secure. "It's on BBC1 now, but BBC1 has to appeal to all of the people some of the time." She conceded that a move to BBC3 was possible, but added: "For the moment, it will stay on BBC1. The thing is, are the charts as valid as they once were?" Last Friday's edition attracted 2.8m viewers, far fewer than the 4.3m who watched the first edition when it was relaunched in October 2001.
The show has suffered from drastic changes in record-buying habits. In the first quarter of this year the sales of singles by number and value fell by 42%, prompting crisis meetings at the trade body, the BPI. By contrast, internet downloading, which is not measured by the charts, is becoming the premier means of consumption for young music fans. The result is that the BBC chart, while accurately measuring the sales of CD singles, does not reflect the trend in music tastes. A sale of 20,000 copies can propel a single to No 1 on a quiet week, and dance acts are disproportionately represented in the lower reaches of the charts because club DJs are big buyers of singles. The BBC is pinning its hopes on Peters, who used to present the links between children's programmes on BBC1, but went behind the scenes to launch Channel 4's successful youth and music strand, T4. Top of the Pops began on New Year's Day 1964 and celebrated its 2,000th edition last year. Chris Cowey, executive producer of Top of the Pops for the past six years, decided to leave the BBC after learning that Peters would be appointed above him.

BBC1 announced its £220m autumn season yesterday, including a dramatic reconstruction of the last 24 hours of Pompeii, a modern remake of The Canterbury Tales, and a dramatisation of the life of Charles II starring Rufus Sewell.

Heggessey said that history would take "centre stage". She denied at the press conference that "worthy" programmes were pushed to the fore with an eye on the renewal of the BBC's charter, which expires in 2006.
Computer-generated imagery features in a number of programmes. Colosseum will seek to recreate the "glamour and bloodshed" of ancient Rome's gladiators while Pompeii - The Last Day recounts the terror visited by Mount Vesuvius on August 24 AD79. Born to Win, dubbed "Sport Idol", will test 20 finalists picked from 5,000 young aspiring athletes who will compete for two sports bursaries - one for each sex.
Prunella Scales will present a biography of Queen Victoria which will include dramatic reconstructions of her life, with a supporting cast that includes Timothy West, Charles Dance and Andrew Sachs. The story of Holy Cross school in Northern
Ireland is recounted through the eyes of two fictional families on either side of the sectarian divide.
In entertainment, the celebrity sports game show Superstars returns.
Returning drama includes Judge John Deed, Silent Witness and Waking the Dead; there are new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and the Jasper Carrott sitcom All About Me, plus a new comedy called The Crouches from the Rab C Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison which features an all-black cast.
Paul O'Grady stars in another sitcom, Eyes Down, based on the characters of a fictional bingo hall.

thanks, Nadine!


BBC ONE puts history centre stage this autumn
Tuesday, 29 July, 2003


BBC ONE launches an ambitious, energetic and confident schedule with history taking centre stage in this £220 million season."

BBC ONE autumn season features the drama Charles II

Through a range of programming, BBC ONE goes back in time to offer audiences an opportunity to consider new perspectives on historic, social and personal situations.

Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC ONE, said: "Opening the door to a wide variety of subjects is key to BBC ONE, and through a range of documentaries and drama we've recreated the world of yesterday for the viewers of today.

"Building on our expertise in the area of computer generated imagery we've pushed technology to the limits to recreate the world of ancient Italy while our autumn period drama focuses on Charles II."

A dynamic romp through history, Charles II is set in the corridors and bedrooms of power at a time when the relationship between monarch and state was at crisis point.

The series stars Rufus Sewell, Dame Diana Rigg and Rupert Graves.

Rufus Sewell and Emma Pearson in Charles II
thanks, Rai!!!

April 17, 2003

A&E revs up for 'King'
Telepic surveys life, family, mistresses of Charles II

Cabler A&E has greenlit production on four-part mini "The Last King."

Joe Wright ("Nature Boy") will helm and Kate Harwood ("The Lost World") will produce the telepic, which centers on the life of King Charles II, his squabbling family and his many mistresses.

"Charles II was a remarkable man -- witty, intellectually curious and, I understand, downright sexy," said A&E senior VP of programming Robert DeBitetto.

Rufus Sewell ("Helen of Troy"), Rupert Graves ("The Forsythe Saga") and Diana Rigg ("Victoria and Albert") are set to star in the project, penned by "The Lost World" scribe Adrian Hodges.

Delia Fine and Laura Mackie will exec produce.
A&E and BBC co-production began lensing Monday in Prague.

April 8, 2003

Sewell rules in BBC1 pic
Cast includes Graves, Rigg, Freeman, McDiarmid

LONDON -- Rufus Sewell will play Charles II, who ruled England from 1660-85, in a four-part historical drama for pubcaster flagship channel BBC1.

Other original history dramas on the BBC sked are two-parter "James I and the Gunpowder Plot," starring Jimmy McGovern; "The Cambridge Spies," a four-part drama by Peter Moffatt about the recruitment of Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt into Russian intelligence in the 1930s; and a two-part drama by Nick Dear about 19th-century poet Lord Byron for BBC2, with Jonny Lee Miller in the title role.

"Charles II" will focus on the king and his court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses, from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory), through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne (Emma Pierson).

Cast also includes Rupert Graves, Diana Rigg, Martin Freeman and Ian McDiarmid.

"Rufus Sewell has tremendous physical energy combined with sensitivity and charisma, which makes him a perfect choice for the title role," said Jane Tranter, controller of drama commissioning at the BBC.

BBC Press Release



Rufus Sewell is Charles II in a four-part drama for BBC ONE

Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves, Helen McCrory, Martin Freeman and Ian McDiarmid star in a four-part drama serial about the life of King Charles II for BBC ONE, it was announced by BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, Jane Tranter.

The focus of King Charles II is his court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses - from the high-born and promiscuous Barbara Villiers (Helen McCrory), through folk heroine and sex symbol of the day Nell Gwynne (Emma Pierson) to the French spy Louise de Keroualle (Mélanie Thierry).

It is an original take on a historical period written by award-winning screenwriter Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield and The Lost World, which penetrates to the heart of the charismatic monarch who was deeply traumatised by the execution of his father.

"An ambitious and original historical drama for BBC ONE, King Charles II is a dynamic romp through history - racy, visceral and violent - set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict between monarch and state was at a crossroads," said Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning.

"Rufus Sewell has tremendous physical energy combined with sensitivity and charisma which makes him a perfect choice for the title role."

Destitute, weary, hopeless: after nearly a decade in exile from Republican England, even Charles II's oldest and dearest friend the Duke of Buckingham (Rupert Graves) abandons him and returns home to make his peace with Cromwell.

The witty, vital, sensual monarch is at his lowest ebb when loyal minister Sir Edward Hyde (Ian McDiarmid) brings news of Cromwell's sudden death. The celebrations are short-lived, as England passes peacefully into the hands of Cromwell's son Richard.

Never did the prospects of regaining Charles's crown seem so bleak, until canny General Monck persuades Parliament to invite Charles Stuart back to take up his throne.

Charles's triumphant ride into London on his thirtieth birthday segues into another victory; the long-anticipated seduction of beautiful, tantalising Barbara Villiers who has been holding out on Charles for several months.

With the virile Charles spawning illegitimate children all over the place, the need for a queen and an heir becomes paramount. Barbara is sufficiently confident of her charms not to feel threatened by the arrival of the devout and mousy Catherine from Portugal, the future Queen who, at first proves to be no match for the wily Barbara.

The cast also includes: Diana Rigg as Henrietta Maria, Charles's volatile mother; Martin Freeman as Shaftesbury, Charles's political nemesis and former minister; Shirley Henderson as Queen Catherine; Charlie Creed Miles as James, Charles's brother and Alice Patten plays the demur Lady Francis Stewart, the young virgin who manages to escape Charles's sexual advances.

Further casting to be announced shortly.

Complementing Charles II, BBC ONE will be screening two documentaries on Cromwell and King Charles II.

Charles II is one of a number of forthcoming original history dramas following The Lost Prince (BBC ONE) and The Other Boleyn Girl (BBC TWO).

These include a two-part drama by Jimmy McGovern about James I and The Gunpowder Plot; The Cambridge Spies (a four-part drama by Peter Moffatt about the recruitment of Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt into Russian intelligence); and a two-part drama about Byron for BBC TWO by Nick Dear with Jonny Lee Miller in the title role.

Notes to Editors

Filming in Prague from Monday 14 April for 12 weeks, Charles II is due for transmission later this year on BBC ONE.

The director is Joe Wright and producer is Kate Harwood.


Charles II   (Mini-series)
The Internet Movie Database

Credited cast:
Rufus Sewell .... King Charles II
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Charlie Creed-Miles .... Prince James
Martin Freeman (II) .... Shaftesbury
Rupert Graves .... Duke of Buckingham
Shirley Henderson (I) .... Queen Catherine
Helen McCrory .... Barbara Villiers
Ian McDiarmid .... Sir Edward Hyde
Emma Pierson .... Nell Gwynne
Diana Rigg .... Henrietta Marie of France
Mélanie Thierry


Directed by
Joe Wright (IV)
Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Adrian Hodges
Produced by
Delia Fine .... co-executive producer
Kate Harwood .... producer
Laura Mackie .... co-executive producer
Sound Department
John Taylor (IX) .... production sound mixer

.... Louise de Keroualle
Sewell crowned to play Charles II in A&E-BBC mini

he Hollywood Reporter
Mar. 18, 2003
By Andrew Wallenstein

NEW YORK -- Rufus Sewell has been tapped to star in the upcoming original biopic on Charles II, a co-production of A&E and BBC.

Scheduled to begin shooting next month in Prague, the four-hour miniseries chronicles the 17th century monarch's turbulent reign, which coincided with the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. The film also explores his equally stormy personal life, including his succession of mistresses.

"This is a complex, rich portrait of a king — not to mention an incredibly sexy one," miniseries executive producer Delia Fine said. "Rufus is just the right actor to play such a fantastic character."

Sewell's credits include "Extreme Ops" and "A Knight's Tale."

Rupert Graves ("Extreme Ops") will co-star as Lord Buckingham, Charles' nemesis.

Expected to air late this year or in early 2004, the miniseries will be directed by Joe Wright (BBC's "Crocodile Snap"). The script was written by Adrian Hodges ("Lorna Doone"). Laura Mackie will executive produce, and Kate Harwood produces for the BBC.

The miniseries is the first longform project greenlighted by Bob DeBitetto, A&E's new senior vp original programming. No budget was disclosed, but it will be one of the biggest productions in A&E history, Fine said.

Sewell is represented by Victoria Belfrage in London and Endeavor in the United States. Gene Parseghian is his manager.


The Daily Mail
April 4, 2003
by Baz Bamigboye

Melanie Thierry, a French beauty who will be one of Charles II's paramours in a bawdy four-part television drama about the King. Rufus Sewell will romp for England, along with Helen McCrory and many others. Diana Rigg plays Charles's mother.
As producer Kate Harwood told me: 'It's not a history lesson. Rather, we look at the women in his life and try to explain how the execution of his father affected him.'
The epic will be shot in Prague for BBC1. Ms Thierry, a 21-year-old Paris based actress, has appeared in several French language films, but Charles II marks her her international breakthrough.
Producer Harwood and director Joe Wood have assembled a superb cast that also includes Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham, Shirley Henderson as Charles's wife Catherine, Charlie Creed Miles as his brother James and Alice Patten as Lady Frances Stewart, one of the few damsels to escape Charles's sexual clutches.
thanks, Rai!


Apr 4 2003
The Mirror, London

By Nicola Methven

The daughter of ex-Tory chairman Chris Patten is to star in the BBC's latest bodice-ripper series, it was revealed yesterday.

Alice Patten, 22, plays opposite Rufus Sewell in the lust-filled costume drama Charles II.

But Alice's character, the demure Lady Frances Stewart, is one of the few to escape Sewell's sexual advances as the King.

She will be joined in an all-star cast by Dame Diana Rigg, Rupert Graves and Office funny-man Martin Freeman.

The £5million drama follows Charles during his 10-year exile from Oliver Cromwell's England and his triumphant return.

A BBC insider said: "The drama shows Charles at his lowest ebb.

"Alice Patten plays the one who got away but it's not long before Charles is spawning illegitimate kiddies all over the place."

Alice launched her acting career on stage and has had minor TV roles in The Forsyte Saga and Where the Heart Is. Her dad is a European Union commissioner.

thanks, Nadine!

Patten daughter to star in racy new BBC drama
By Adam Sherwin, Media Reporter
The London Times
April 4, 2003
THE youngest daughter of Chris Patten is to star in a "lusty"BBC One drama about the life
and loves of King Charles II.  A month after her father was elected Chancellor of Oxford University,
Alice Patten, 23, has picked up a role that could make her an equally prominent figure on the

She will play Lady Frances Stuart, the young virgin who managed to escape Charles's sexual
advances and became Britannia, the female  icon who presided over British coinage for three
centuries. Rufus Sewell will play a "witty, sensual" monarch in the £4million drama,
a four-part series that will be a highlight of BBC One's autumn season.

Miss Patten's success comes 11 years after her father arrived in Hong Kong as the colony's final Governor with three daughters whose appearance sent the local press into a frenzy.

They were dubbed the "Three Graces" and gossip columnists debated the lengths of their skirts
while one British newspaper criticised 17-year-old Laura for slouching at a formal ceremony.

The girls' vibrant charm soon became a valuable aide to their father and the family's tearful farewell
to the colony in 1997 was one of the most poignant moments of the British handover to China.

While their father found a new position as EU External Relations Commissioner, before becoming a candidate for the Oxford post, the Patten girls pursued successful careers in the media. Laura, 28,
is deputy beauty editor at Tatler magazine and Kate, 29, is a BBC television producer. Both now shun the limelight, limiting their public appearances to campaigning with their father in Oxford and
attending Alice's first nights.

The youngest Patten was spotted by a theatrical agent when she appeared in a student production at Cambridge, where she took a modern languages degree.

Her rise has been swift and last year she made her West End debut in Vincent in Brixton, playing Eugenie, the "wide-eyed charmer" whose mother became Van Gogh's landlady.

Colleagues of the three daughters say that they refuse to trade on their name. Laura began her career with a work experience placement on Vogue, before jobs at Harpers & Queen and then Vanity Fair.

Kate travels around the world producing documentary programmes for the BBC's digital channels, including Rock Shrines, whichshowcased the sites of legendary rock star deaths. She had previously worked on Esther Rantzen's That's Life! Filming for Charles II beginsin the Czech Republic later this month. Frances Stuart is believed to be the only one of Charles's loves to refuse his advances. He penned her tender love poems but to no avail. The king was furious when she eloped with the Duke of Richmond but eventually forgave her and made her husband Ambassador to Denmark.

Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama, described the series as "a dynamic romp through history -
racy, visceral and violent -set in the corridors and bedrooms of power, when the conflict between
Monarch and State was at a crossroads".

The drama, written by Adrian Hodges, begins with Charles's restoration to the Throne and follows his battles with Parliament and attempts to increase religious tolerance. But it is Charles's
reputation as "that great enemy of chastity and marriage"which will be probed most closely, with mistresses from the kindhearted Nell Gwynne to the scheming Barbara Villiers disrobing for the King to the distress of the barren Queen Catherine.

Kate Harwood, the producer, said: "It is a lusty piece and Charles's infidelities appalled people at the time. But it was a violent age and although Charles was the last King to try to rule without
Parliament he managed to remain quite popular."

Miss Patten will star alongside Dame Diana Rigg, who plays Charles's mother, Henrietta Maria, Rupert Graves, who stars as the Duke of Buckingham, and Shirley Henderson as Queen Catherine.

thank, Rai!


Sewell to Play Charles II for A&E
Tue, Mar 18, 2003 11:41 AM PDT


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - British actor Rufus Sewell has signed on to play English King Charles II in an upcoming miniseries about the 17th-century monarch.

The four-hour miniseries, a co-production by A&E and the BBC, is scheduled to begin shooting in Prague next month. It will chronicle Charles II's time on the throne, which coincided with the Great Plague and a fire that destroyed much of London, and his personal life.

"This is a complex, rich portrait of a king, not to mention an incredibly sexy one," executive producer Delia Fine tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Rufus is just the right actor to play such a fantastic character."

Sewell's credits include "A Knight's Tale" and "Dark City." Rupert Graves ("The Forsyte Saga" ), Sewell's co-star in last year's "Extreme Ops," will play Lord Buckingham in the miniseries.

Adrian Hodges ("David Copperfield," "Lorna Doone" ) wrote the script. It's expected to air late this year or in early 2004. http://tv.zap2it.com/news/tvnewsdaily.html?30614

thanks, Nadine!!!!

Charles II (1660-85 AD)

Charles II, second son of Charles I and Henrietta Marie of France, was born in 1630. He spent his teenage years fighting Parliament's Roundhead forces until his father's execution in 1649, when he escaped to France. He drifted to Holland, but returned to Scotland in 1650 amid the Scottish proclamation of his kingship; in 1651, he led a Scottish force of 10,000 into a dismal defeat by Cromwell's forces at Worcester. He escaped, but remained a fugitive for six weeks until he engineered passage to France. Charles roamed Europe for eight years before being invited back to England as the Commonwealth dissolved. He married Catherine of Braganza, but sired no legitimate children. His oldest child, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, made a failed bid to capture the crown at the time of his father's death and was executed by James II, brother of Charles II and Uncle to Monmouth. Charles II died in February 1685 from complications following a stroke.

Charles arrived in London to claim the throne on his 30th birthday, May 29, 1660. He was extremely tolerant of those who had condemned his father to death: only nine of the conspirators were executed. He was also tolerant in religious matters, but more from political wisdom than overwhelming morality. England was overjoyed at having a monarch again. However, royal powers and privileges had been severely limited by Parliament. He was forced to fund his administration from customs taxes and a healthy pension paid to him by France's Louis XIV. Royal prerogative, the soul of the Tudor monarchs, James I and Charles I, had all but vanished. This moment was a turning point in English political history, as Parliament maintained a superior position to that of the king, and the modern concept of political parties formed from the ashes of the Cavaliers and Roundheads. The Cavaliers evolved into the Tory Party, royalists intent on preserving the king's authority over Parliament, while the Roundheads transformed into the Whig Party, men of property dedicated to expanding trade abroad and maintaining Parliament's supremacy in the political field.

The first decade of Charles' reign was beset by many problems. Defeat at the hands of the Dutch in a mishandled war over foreign commerce cost him domestic support. The Great Plague of 1665 and the Fire of London in the following year left much of the city in ruins. In 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sunk five battleships and towed the Royal Charles back to Holland. King and Council were ridiculed for not having enough interest in the affairs of government.

The 1670's saw Charles' forging a new alliance with France against the Dutch. French support was based on the promise that Charles would reintroduce Catholicism in England at a convenient time - apparently, that convenient time never came, as Charles did nothing to bring England under the Catholic umbrella, although he made a deathbed conversion to the Roman faith. The Whigs used Catholicism to undermine Charles; England was in the throes of yet another wave of anti-Catholicism, with the Whigs employing this paranoia in an attempt to unseat the heir apparent, Charles' Catholic brother James, from succeeding to the throne. Titus Oates, a defrocked Anglican priest, stoked the fires of anti-Catholicism by accusing the queen and her favorites of attempting to murder Charles; ten men fell prey to false witness and Oates' manipulation of the anti-Catholic movement, and were executed. Many accused Anthony Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury and founder of the Whig Party, of inciting the anti-Catholic violence of 1679-80; this has remained one of the greatest mysteries in British history. The Whig-dominated Parliament tried to push through an Exclusion Bill barring Catholics from holding public office (and keeping James Stuart from the throne), but Charles was struck down by a fever and opinion swayed to his side. His last years were occupied with securing his brother's claim to the throne and garnering Tory support.

Charles' era is remembered as the time of "Merry Olde England". The monarchy, although limited in scope, was successfully restored - the eleven years of Commonwealth were officially ignored as nothing more than an interregnum between the reign of Charles I and Charles II. Charles' tolerance was astounding considering the situation of England at the time of his ascension, but was necessary for his reign to stand a chance at success. He was intelligent and a patron of scientific research, but somewhat lazy as a ruler, choosing to wait until the last moment to make a decision. The British attitude towards Charles II is humorously revealed in this quote from 1066 and All That: "Charles II was always very merry and was therefore not so much a king as a Monarch. During the civil war, he had rendered valuable assistance to his father's side by hiding in all the oak-trees he could find. He was thus very romantic and popular and was able after the death of Cromwell to descend to the throne."

Charles II's Genealogy
A guide to the monarch's ancestors and offspring. These trails can lead you through the history of Europe's royal houses and to some unexpected places.

Return to Monarchs Index

Charles II

portrait of Charles II

Charles II ©

Charles II, as the eldest surviving son of Charles I, spent part of the English Civil War (1642-1646) fighting on his father's behalf in the West of England, most namely at the Battle of Edgehill (1642). Forced into exile, he travelled first to Scilly and Jersey. (It was in Jersey that he met the mistress who would father James, Duke of Monmouth.) From exile in France, Charles attempted to save his condemned father's life by presenting a signed blank sheet of paper to Parliament, which would allow the government to agree to whatever terms would save his father's life.

After his father's execution in 1649, Charles was proclaimed King of Scotland and some parts of England and Ireland at Scone in 1651, after he agreed to make Presbyterianism the religion of England and Scotland. Two years later, he invaded England and fought Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.

Defeated, he once again fled to France, where he lived a poor existence, eventually moving to Germany and then the Spanish Netherlands.

In 1660, Charles's restoration to the throne was engineered by General George Monck, an English soldier who had fought for Cromwell, but realised the importance of the monarchy in rebuilding the country. Charles returned to London on his birthday, 29th May 1660. The King's desire for religious toleration (due in large part to his leanings toward Roman Catholicism) was overwhelmed by the new parliament. Royalist in nature, they passed the Clarendon code, which ensured Anglicanism as the state religion and threatened non-conformists. Charles II tried to increase religious tolerance with his Declaration of Indulgence, but was forced to withdraw it.

He entered into a series of diplomatic deals, first with the creation of an alliance between Holland, and Sweden. At the same time, without the knowledge of Parliament he negotiated the Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV. In this secret treaty he agreed, in exchange for £200,000 a year, to convert along with his brother James, (the future James II) to Catholicism and continue to war against the Dutch.

He further attempted to encourage Catholic freedom with the passing of another Declaration of Indulgence, but Parliament overruled and came back with further controls against the religion, this time forbidding Catholics from sitting in Parliament. His alliance with Louis was forcibly ended at this point, with the brokered marriage of Charles's niece Mary to Louis's arch-rival,William of Orange.

By 1678, anti-Catholic sentiment was at the highest point in his reign. The Popish plot insinuated Roman Catholics were set to murder Charles, in order to let his brother James reign. Over the next three years, his royal house suffered the greatest challenges to its existence, with numerable threats by Parliament. The period saw the rise of the Whigs (who wanted James excluded from succession) and the Tories (who wanted no change). In 1681, he dissolved Parliament for the last time, ruled as an absolute monarch and found himself popular with his subjects once again.

His reign also saw the rise of colonisation and trade in India, the East Indies and America (where he captured New York from the Dutch in 1664), and the passage of Navigation Acts that secured Britain's future as a sea-power. His hedonistic character - he had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children and loved racing and gambling - also informed the birth of the Restoration period in art and literature.


thanks, Rai!

The loves of Charles II -


a tale of Restoration intrigue by

Molly Brown

The Duke of Buckingham once referred to Charles II "as the father of his people", adding, "of a good many of them".

The acknowledged mothers of Charles II's surviving bastards:

Lucy Walter Lucy Walter (mother of James Scott, Duke of Monmouth), also had a daughter named Mary who claimed to be the child of Charles II and later became a kind of faith healer in Covent Garden under the name of Mrs. Fanshawe.

Barbara Villiers Barbara Villiers (mother of six children, five of whom were acknowledged by Charles: three boys and two girls; the identity of the father of her youngest child - another daughter - is uncertain, but may have been John Churchill). She became Charle's mistress whilst married to Roger Palmer. She later became Duchess of Cleveland and then Duchess of Castlemaine.

Nell Gwyn Nell Gwyn (mother of two: Charles and James)

Moll Davis Moll Davis (mother of Mary Tudor)

Louise de Keroualle Louise de Kéroualle, mother of one son.

Elizabeth Killigrew (mother of Charlotte Jemima)

Catherine Pegge (mother of Charles, Earl of Plymouth, known as "Don Carlo")

No less than four of the King's sons were named Charles. Two of them were James. One was christened Henry and nicknamed Harry.

His daugthers were either Charlotte, Anne, or Mary (the names of Stuart princesses).

Surnames employed were either Fitzcharles, Fitzroy, or Tudor, though Monmouth took the name Crofts in the days of his father's exile before the Restoration, when a royal connection was not necessarily an advantage. (On Monmouth's marriage, he took his wife's surname of Scott.)

Some other mistresses of Charles II:


    Winifred Wells - one of the Queen's Maids of Honour
    Mrs Jane Roberts - the daughter of a clergyman
    Mrs Knight - a famous singer
    Mary Killigrew - the widowed Countess of Falmouth
    Elizabeth Countess of Kildare

Frances Stuart Frances Stuart, with helmet and trident, was engraved as Britannia, to preside over British coinage for three centuries.

Of all Charles II's loves, she is the only one believed to have consistently refused his advances. Like Hortense Mancini who would capture the king's interest nearly ten years later, Frances Stuart indulged in the Restoration fasion of dressing in men's clothing.

At the time of Charles's infatuation with her, Barbara Palmer, who was pregnant with the king's child, made a great effort to befriend her potential rival. They even went through a mock marriage ceremony with Frances as bride, Barbara as groom, and the two of them bedded in the traditional post-wedding ceremony. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this odd lovers' triangle was that Barbara would offer to share her bed with Frances, then invite the king into the room to watch the other woman sleeping.

Frances eloped with the Duke of Richmond in April 1667. The king was furious, but eventually forgave her and made her husband ambassador to Denmark. The Duke died young, but Frances never remarried. She devoted her later years to cats and cards; at her death her cats were bequeathed to various female friends, with money for their upkeep.

A poem written by Charles II, about his love for Frances Stewart:


    I pass all my hours in a shady old grove,
    But I live not the day when I see not my love;
    I survey every walk now my Phyllis is gone,
    And sigh when I think we were there all alone,

      Oh, then 'tis I think there's no Hell
      Like loving too well.

  • But each shade and each conscious bower when I find
    Where I once have been happy and she has been kind;
    When I see the print left of her shape on the green,
    And imagine the pleasure may yet come again;

      Oh, then 'tis I think that no joys are above
      The pleasures of love.

    While alone to myself I repeat all her charms,
    She I love may be locked in another man's arms,
    She may laugh at my cares, and so false she may be,
    To say all the kind things she before said to me!

      Oh then 'tis, oh then, that I think there's no Hell
      Like loving too well.


    But when I consider the truth of her heart,
    Such an innocent passion, so kind without art,
    I fear I have wronged her, and hope she may be
    So full of true love to be jealous of me.

      Oh then 'tis I think that no joys are above
      The pleasures of love.

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BBC plumps for £4m royal drama

Jason Deans
Thursday November 7, 2002

Jonny Lee Miller

The BBC is to broadcast a £4m drama about the life of King Charles II, which is being described as an "historical West Wing".

King Charles II forms part of an ambitious new batch of period dramas, including one about the life of Lord Byron starring Jonny Lee Miller as the rebel poet, ordered by the BBC controller of drama, Jane Tranter.

The Charles II drama will provide plenty of uncomfortable parallels with today's royals, featuring the monarch's squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses, who included 17th century sex symbol Nell Gwynne and French spy Louise de Keroualle.

"It's going to be a racy, visceral, violent, modern and no holds barred look at what being king meant to Charles II," Ms Tranter said.

"Charles II was the first monarch who had to work with parliament and it will be a bit of a historical West Wing. I also expect it to invoke memories of I, Claudius," she added.

"It will be one of the most ribald things we've done on BBC1. He had more mistresses in five years than most people get through in a lifetime. Then there's the great plague and the great fire of London."

Charles II came into power following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the restoration of the monarchy and although there was censorship at the time, the era and his decadent court has been well documented by diarist Samuel Pepys.

King Charles II will go out as a two-part drama on BBC1 next year.

The drama is being written by Adrian Hodges, whose credits include David Copperfield and The Lost World.

Ms Tranter said Byron, which is a two-parter for BBC2, would take "an utterly modern look" at the romantic poet's life.

"Byron was one of the first overnight celebrities in London. He was the Robbie Williams of his day," she added.

"The drama will look at what it meant to be both blessed and cursed with genius."

Ms Tranter is talking to Trainspotting star Jonny Lee Miller about playing Byron, but no contract has been signed.

Byron is being written by Nick Dear, whose previous screenwriting work has included adapting Jane Austen's Persuasion.

It will be directed by Julian Farino, who most recently shot critically lauded BBC2 disability drama Flesh and Blood.

Ms Tranter has also given the green light to two children's drama adaptations for BBC1.

Jim Broadbent is being lined up to star in Patrick Barlow's adaptation of The Young Visiters, the 1919 novel by child prodigy Daisy Ashford.

The Young Visiters was published when Ashford was just nine, complete with spelling mistakes - hence the title.

Pauline Quirke will star in an adaptation of Nina Bawden's novel, Carrie's War, which tells the story of London evacuees in Wales during the second world war.

Andrew Davies is working on an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's He Knew He Was Right for BBC1 - while Leigh Jackson, whose credits include controversial New Labour drama The Project, is adapting William Golding's epic sea trilogy To the Ends of the Earth for BBC2.

thanks, Rai!!!






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