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on March 2, 2004
Edward the King is a superb seventies' dramatisation of the life of Queen Victoria's son Bertie, the Prince of Wales, who went on to become King Edward VII in 1901. The series (which consists of thirteen 50-minute episodes) is actually entitled Edward the Seventh (the title was for some reason changed to Edward the King on the packaging). As for the dvd, there are no extras; and the quality of the picture/sound, although good, is not outstanding, and I don't think the series has been remastered. Unfortunate as this may be, please don't be deterred on that account; the quality is as good as one would expect from any video and it is, after all, the content and the quality of the performance that is most important.
The series covers the life of Bertie from his birth in 1841 through his coronation in 1901 and concludes with his death in 1910. Though extremely privileged, Bertie had a stiflingly sheltered youth dominated by strict, controlling parents, which culminated in an all-but-arranged marriage to the beautiful Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Because of their importance in shaping the character of the young prince, Victoria and Albert (played to absolute perfection by Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave) and Robert Hardy (All Creatures)) are the primary focus of the first few episodes. Victoria did not like to share her power, and her marriage felt the strain of such an inability to delegate (a situation which was not improved by her many temper tantrums!). Ultimately, however, she was persuaded to share her power with her more-than-capable husband--something which, following Albert's death in 1861, she was sadly never to do with her son. Ironically, when he finally succeeded to the throne, Bertie proved himself a very capable and level-headed ruler.
Bertie (played commandingly by Timothy West) longed for responsibility in the government but, thanks to his mother, was destined for the most part to a life of idleness, which he filled libertinely with entertainment, cigars, and of course mistresses--most notably Alice Keppel and Lillie Langtry (portrayed by the beautiful Francesca Annis, who went on to reprise the role in 1979 with Lillie). As the years pass, we see Bertie increasingly in the company of his mistresses. I might just mention (for those with a particular interest in his many affaires du coeur) that his relationships are not the focus here; and certainly, the physical aspects are not delved into (ie. don't expect the gratuitous, explicit sexuality that seems to be a given in current period productions).
The politics of the time are, as one would expect in any profile of a monarch, intertwined with the social and personal life of the individual, and we see over 70 years worth of prime ministers come and go--most notably Benjamin Disraeli (played by John Gielgud) and the perennial thorn in Victoria's side, William Gladstone. We also see the rise to power of the highly unstable Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia, the son of Bertie's eldest sister Vicky (played wonderfully by Felicity Kendal (Good Neighbours)). Because of his instability, Wilhelm is an increasingly important figure in Bertie's life.
In conclusion, this is an outstanding production--one which is consummately acted by an all-star British cast, and which I'd recommend very highly to anyone who enjoys quality British period productions or to anyone with an interest in historical biography. If you've enjoyed other classic series--like Lillie, the Pallisers, or Upstairs Downstairs, for example, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Highly recommended.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon September 8, 2008
You do not have to be British or even knowledgeable in British History to enjoy this 13-episode (each being about 51 minutes) story of the making of King Edward the 7th. It was originally broadcast on British TV (as Edward the Seventh) in the 70s but is so well done that it appears to be a 21th century release.

Queen Victoria (Annette Crosbie) begins as a young lady who married Prince Albert but initially left him out of government and British leadership. Her love for the Prince brings her to full devotion, even after his death in 1841. The role of the queen could be played no better. Watching the change through the episodes as the Queen (who reigned 50+ years) brings the role even more reality. The acting brings out your own emotion as you begin to almost feel a part of the family.

Bertie, who would become King Edward VII, played by Timothy West, is equal to Crosbie's stellar performance. West does such a good job of playing Bertie, who eventually the King after a 60 year wait due to Queen Victoria's refusal to relinquish her role. The viewer empathizes with Bertie in his struggle to make a difference in British lives. Between his coronation in 1901 and his death in 1910, King Edward VII became even more beloved by the UK people and known for his peacemaking abilities.

This is a story of a monarchy, particularly the years of Queen Victoria and her son Bertie, but the story is written to make the viewer feel their humanness and experience their struggles with politics and family, joys and grief--also very familiar to common people. This is so much more than a British history lesson.

Lillie Langtry's (Francesca Annis) relationship with Bertie, is included as well as his mistress Alice Keppel. Side note: Lillie's own story was placed into a British drama series of it's own in the 70s. "Lillie" is also a recommended DVD set. Both "Lillie" and "Edward the King" are must-own's for the British drama enthusiast.

Costumes, dancing, and the home furnishings in the sets are exceptional, as are many landscape scenic views. It is like a travelogue show depicting the British Monarchy from 1840s to 1910. But this is a story, mind, not a documentary; a performance, not a history lecture.

This Acorn Media release of the series is ENLARGED AND PACKED with special features that add so much more to the award-winning drama that has already proved itself over a couple of generations of viewers.

The BAFTA, "Best Drama Series", award proves this DVD's worth.
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VINE VOICEon November 10, 2008
"Edward The King," a 1975 British television drama about the life of Edward VII of Great Britain, has just been released in a box set, consisting of four DVD's, that comprise the original thirteen episodes of the series. It was originally broadcast in the U.K. as "Edward the Seventh," and was aired in the U.S. on public television stations and major network affiliates in the late 1970s. Evidently, it dates from the great age of British TV series, and like many of them, was made for Britain's ITV, Independent Television; it bears the hallmarks of those classic 1970's series: an all-star cast, tremendous production values - a cast of hundreds if not thousands, richly detailed sets and costumes. It won an Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design and three BAFTA Awards, including Best Drama Series and Best Actress. The box set boasts several special features; but, unfortunately, does not offer subtitles.

Timothy West (Bleak House) stars as the title character, and does an extraordinary job of taking Edward from young adulthood through old age. Annette Crosbie (Calendar Girls) costars as his remarkable mother, Queen Victoria, and must be said to do an equally remarkable job of taking her character from child-bearing young woman through old age. Other stars include Felicity Kendal (Rosemary & Thyme - The Complete Series), Robert Hardy (All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Collection), Charles Dance (Bleak House), Michael Holdern, and Sir John Gielgud. Francesca Annis (Reckless), plays Lillie Langtry here, and was, in 1978, to play the well-known courtesan/actress again in her own estimable series, (Lillie).

As you might expect with thirteen episodes, the series also bears that British hallmark of leisurely story-telling; some viewers might prefer to initially skip the first DVD, about Edward's rather miserable childhood, then double back to it. Mind you, Edward's childhood was obviously privileged, in comparison with the rest of his country and his world, still, the poor young child was subject, from the age of seven, to a solitary and grueling educational program dreamed up by his father, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort. (To some of us, indeed, Albert seems overwhelmingly to be the source of some of the least pleasant features of the period that bears his wife's name, the Victorian.)

Victoria was long-lived for her time: the celebration of her Golden Jubilee (50 years as Queen), is shown in this production, and Edward waited nearly 60 years to become King. During most of that wait, his mother refused to allow him to play any part in the governance of the nation, sentencing him to a life of skirt-chasing, and society pursuits. He reigned for only nine years, from January 22, 1901, to May 6, 1910, continuing his philandering during that time. Nevertheless, his nine year reign was influential, and its period is generally known as the Edwardian. He did his level best to bring peace to Europe during his brief reign, but was, ultimately, unable to sufficiently influence his nephews, the German Kaiser Wilhelm, and the Russian Tsar Nicholas, and, four years after his death, World War I broke out, thereby putting an end to the leisurely luxurious Edwardian life the upper crust had enjoyed. Despite his years of frivolity, he was very popular with his countrymen, and indeed, in Europe, and the Americas. I was once, for whatever the reason, mooching through old "New York Times" microfiche, and came upon a story, published shortly after his death, that remarked that the black ebony earrings, then customarily worn by women in mourning (you certainly see them frequently in "Edward"), had sold out in New York after his death, and were not available at any price.

Anyone who is interested in history, be it British/European/world/political/military or royal, will find this an excellent, truly enjoyable picture of the period in question. It should find its place in many DVD libraries. It has in mine.
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on April 4, 1999
This is an absolutely wonderful 13 episode series that chronicles the life of the man rightfully called the Peacemaker of the World and named Prince Bertie and King Edward VII. It is a must for every serious student of British History, especially the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It should be available in every library, and the best colleges should give academic credit for viewing it. Among other things, this series gives full appreciation to the phrase "the Eurpoean Family of Nations" through the marriages of Victoria's many children and their in-laws. It begins with King Edward VII's mother, Queen Victoria, telling his father, Prince Albert, of the coming of their second child. It ends with him Lying in State with his Queen kneeling beside the coffin. Episodes 1-10 (Volumes 1-5) are dominated by Queen Victoria (as was his life), and Episodes 11-13 (Volume 6) deal with the reign of Kind Edward VII. This is an impecible production with a perfect cast drawn from the then current and future elite of the British acting community perfectly protraying their characters placed in remarkable settings that makes one feel that the viewer has been among the privledged in exclusive places during private events throughout. Its release on video tape is eagerly received and long overdue. In summary, to view this series is to experience and better understand these eras of history. The entire series is most highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon July 14, 2009
Phillip Magnus's magisterial biography of King Edward VII was deemed worthy of a miniseries by the BBC, so this exceptionally lavish (and, unfortunately, exceptionally long) miniseries adaptation was commissioned of it by the BBC in the mid 1970s. Very little expense was spared, and the costumes faithfully replicate the court dress of every decade between 1842 (when the miseries begins, at Queen Victoria's realization of Edward's conception) and 1910 (when Edward dies); many scenes are shot at the actual locations, including Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. You should be warned from the get-go that, due to its extreme length, the miniseries sags quite a bit in the middle, between Edward's marriage to Alexandra and his accession to the throne. For whatever reason, the BBC decided that Edward's numerous extramarital affairs could be mentioned but that "Bertie" (Timothy West) could be shown giving nothing more passionate to his many illicit loves other than a kiss on the cheek--and then only once, in parting with Lillie Langtry (Francesca Annis). So the rest of the middle section of this miniseries is pretty dull, with far too many bluff and hearty dinner parties, and with far too many minor sexual and social scandals, most of which could have been easily cut, since Edward's protests to his mother and wife of doing nothing more indiscreet than admiring the beauty of these women is borne out entirely by what we see on camera. Also, the children of Victoria and Albert (and their childrens' spouses, the heads of European royalty) are so nice and well mannered that not much of anything seems to happen in the middle. Yet the miniseries is more than worth seeing for the three episodes at the beginning and the three episodes at the end. The latter sequences are worth seeing for what happens when Edward finally is enthroned, close to age sixty, and has the ability to do what he has long dreamed of doing, and can brokers a European peace by dint of his influence upon his two nephews, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Czar Nicholas II, who are the actual rulers of two of the most important empires on Earth. This latter triad of episodes also shows this series' Edward and Alexandra at their absolute best: as Edward VII, Timothy West is never quite so likable as when playing with his many royal grandchildren and happily making a fool of himself, while Helen Ryan, as the deaf, forgiving, kindly, yet surprisingly patriotic Alexandra, shows herself at her most eccentric and lovable. And the first triad of episodes is worth the entire series, because they give the great Annette Crosbie her fullest showcase as Edward's mother, the inestimable Queen Victoria.

Although Queen Elizabeth I has been the proverbial role for giving actresses a great showcase for their talents, nearly as many have had a go at the Last of the Hanovers, from Helen Hayes and Anna Neagle to Irene Dunne and Judi Dench. But none of them have been allowed further range than Annette Crosbie is here over the course of a full ten episodes, and she so dominates the series that for all of these first ten episodes she is deservedly given top billing. Hers is the performance that far and away makes the greatest impression, perhaps because Victoria is the most interesting person in the entire series. From her first scene, screaming "'MUST'... TO ME!" at her former governess in outraged disbelief, Crosbie's Victoria makes us laugh almost constantly. Trained from an early age to see the entire world subject to her whims, Crosbie's Victoria is so surprised when the universe does not obey her that her whole body reacts in outrage; often she is caught so by surprise at the expressions of willpower in other people that she freezes in shock before she can quite make up her mind whether to explode in fury, burst into tears, or erupt in laughter. I can't remember the last time an actor's performance caught me so repeatedly off-guard, and made me chuckle so often in delight. Even in the long later years of her reign when she mostly does walk-ons during the dreary events of the middle episodes devoted to her sons' scandals with his mistresses, she keeps a wonderful comic routine going with her dismaying prime minister William Gladstone (Michael Hordern), who always says exactly the wrong thing to her. You look forward to Annette Crosbie's every appearance on camera; it is one of the true triumphs of Seventies British acting, and makes the whole thing a kind of classic.
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on January 12, 2013
I watched this miniseries in 1975 on Masterpiece Theater and thoroughly enjoyed it again recently. The story of King Edward is so interesting and it grabs you in the first episode. The costumes are fantastic. The supurb actors are a who's who of British drama.

It includes Annette Crosby as Victoria, Timothy West as Bertie (Edward VII), Robert Hardy as Prince Albert, Helen Ryan as Princess Alexandra, Michael Hordern as Gladstone, and John Gielgud as Disreali, just for starters. Also included are Charles Sturridge (writer and director of Brideshead Revisited) as young Bertie, Nigel Havers as Bertie's friend, and Felicity Kendal as Victoria's firstborn child. And on and on, including a gorgeous young Charles Dance as young Prince Eddy (Bertie and Alix's first child), and Lillie Langtry portrayed by Francesca Annis, who on the strength of this portrayed her again three years later in an entire miniseries of her own, "Lillie".

Highly recommended!
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on July 15, 2006
This is one of those series that came to America as a special although they should have sent it right to Masterpiece Theatre, Alistair Cooke would have had someone great commentary on it I'm sure. Despite his short reign, Edward the VII is still remembered on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to this series. Something to keep in mind for this DVD release. This is NOT (as pitched by everyone including the manufacturer themselves) a 6 Disc set. The manufacturer was apparently too cheap (or lazy) to put 3 episodes on 1 disc even though it could have easily been done and put episode 13 by itself in another disc included in the case marked "6". So it is really a 7 not 6 disc set. All in all though, it is another PBS/BBC show that deserves to be in any personal collection with shows like I, Claudius, Elizabeth R, Six Wives of Henry VIII and even Edward and Mrs Simpson (about Edward VIII non coincidentally).
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on January 21, 2013
This is an excellent show that seems to really bring the audience into the period. To my mind it also shows the best and worst in the system of Monarchy. The worst being that mental illness does not disqualify a ruler. It also gives a flesh and blood answer to the question of how world war 1 started that is more satisfying and 3 dimensional than I have ever seen before. This is not to say its the only answer, or even that its correct, and its certainly not complete, but it is very interesting.

We dont get to see anything of ordinary life in these pieces - just the rarified air - but then I dont suppose the royals knew or saw much of real life.
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on March 1, 2009
Snow hit this country and I needed a good film to watch. I went to my cabinet and picked Edward The King to watch once more. It was even better the third time.

I like the era it was from and the acting was very good. Timothy West made a great older Bertie but was not very convincing in the younger days. Annette Crosbie was an amazing Queen Victoria. Her range of emotions shows well not only in the words she says, screams or cries, but her eyes tell you much more of what she is thinking. Outstanding work for her.
Overall, this is a good one to watch more than once so purchasing it makes some sense at the price. Costumes are nice, scenes are well done and of course the scenery in these period pieces is always a joy to behold.
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on December 8, 2013
Although not a recent production, this series has all of the values one expects in a Masterpiece Theater production: execellent performances, solid writing and, for the most part, pretty decent history. It does provide a sense of who this monarch became after an unusual and difficult childhood. It presents him as something more than simply the womanizer he undoubtedly was. I enjoyed it when it first aired and I enjoyed my recent return to it. This was also my introduction to the beautiful Francesca Annis as Lilly Langtry, who went on to do her own series on the renowned beauty and actress, " Lilly." If you enjoy Masterpiece Theater style history, you will like both of these productions.
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