Rupert Graves Online: Film & Television.
Charles II: The Power And The Passion.
Charles II: The Power And The Passion Spacer

2003 - BBC Worldwide.

Director - Joe Wright.

Rupert Graves - George Villiers, Duke Of Buckingham.
Review / Synopsis.

Also knows as "The Last King".

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.


Episode Guide:


Episode 1.

Charles Stuart is restored to the throne after years in exile from republican England.
Having been abandoned by his oldest friend, the Duke of Buckingham, Charles II is at his lowest ebb, when the sudden death of Oliver Cromwell galvanises the Royalist cause.
He embarks on a hedonistic reign, winning the adulation of the people and fathering a slew of illegitimate children.

Episode 2.
A fiery comet is rumoured to portend doom and after Sir Edward Hyde fails to stand up to the shrewd Lord Shaftesbury, Charles is forced to sacrifice his minister, advising him to flee into the night to escape impeachment, imprisonment and execution. Despite his defeat, Charles asserts his loyalty to the childless Queen Catherine and heir James, although his roving eye fixes on demure Frances Stewart.

Episode 3.
The Great Fire of London and gossip about Barbara's depravity cause Charles's popularity to wane, but the monarch soon finds comfort in the shape of his new mistress, streetwise actress Nell Gwynn. The king takes a further risk when he grows tired of endless wrangling with Parliament and starts negotiating with Louis XIV in the hope of obtaining extra funds, inviting his beloved younger sister Minette to act as an envoy.

Episode 4.
A plot to murder the king leads to an atmosphere of panic and increased anti-Catholic feeling, and Charles finds himself powerless to defend the innocent people, including the Queen, whose lives are ruined by the ridiculous claims made by Titus Oates. The monarch faces another crisis when Shaftesbury tries to exclude James from the throne, and has to use all his political cunning to ensure his brother remains his heir.


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