Charles II – The Power And The Passion (BBC-2 2003, Rufus Sewell)

A lavish costume romp of the first order Charles II tells the story of the lives and loves of The Restoration King. Following the execution of his father Charles I young Charles is forced to flee into exile whilst the new crown protector Thomas Cromwell assumes the power in England .

The story begins with the now adult Charles (a fantastic, brooding Rufus Sewell) ready to return and reclaim his throne and going on to cover his numerous relationships (the King had lots of illegitimate children his descendants include Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson and Camilla Parker-Bowles) and the many machinations and political scheming that surrounds any Royal Court.

Very stylish and enormously entertaining Charles II has everything you want in a post modern period drama, murder, intrigue and copious amounts of sexual machinations – the brilliant Helen McCrory plays Barbara Villiers who carried on a relationship with Charles for years whilst simultaneously involved with his oldest friend and her cousin the Duke of Buckingham George Villiers. Rupert Graves as Villiers brings his usual seedy suaveness to his role.

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A top flight cast that includes Diana Rigg, Shirley Henderson (as Charles long time wife Catherine of Braganza who was never able to provide him with a much needed heir), Charlie Creed-Miles as Charles brother and future King James, Duke of York and Emma Pierson as the sexy Nell Gwynn only adds to the serials feel of quality.

Charles and Nell Gwynn (played by Emma Pierson)

Charles II reign took in many pivotal moments in British history including the Plague and the Great Fire of London and writer Adrian Hodges has done a fantastic job bringing in all the varied strands of courtly life such as the political games Charles is forced to play contrasted with the play hard aspects of the Royal Court.

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production details
UK / BBC Two / 4×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 16 November 7 – 7 December 2003

Writer: Adrian Hodges / Script Editor: Manda Levin / Music: Rob Lane / Executive Producers: Delia Fine, Laura Mackie / Producer: Kate Harwood / Director: Joe Wright

Rufus Sewell as Charles II
Rupert Graves as Buckingham
Helen McCrory as Barbara
Ian McDiarmid as Hyde
Charlie Creed-Miles as James
Shirley Henderson as Catharine
Martin Freeman as Shaftesbury
Emma Pierson as Nell Gwynn
Christian Coulson as Monmouth
Peter Wight as Ormonde
Robert East as Arlington
Dorian Lough as Clifford
Diana Rigg as Henrietta Mari
Nick Bagnall as Hopkins
Tabitha Wady as Anne Hyde

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.