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Plantagenet by Mike Walker
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer and Jessica Dromgoole
BBC Radio 4 - Classic Serial - 28.02.2010
3 x 60mins episodes
Series of plays by Mike Walker, inspired by Holinshed's Chronicles, chronicling the early years of the Plantagenet dynasty.

Episodes

  • Episode 1 - 28.02.2010 - The first of the House of Anjou to be king of England, Henry II's long reign was finally beset by conflict with his sons.
  • Episode 2 - 07.03.2010 - Prince Richard has become heir apparent, but in the face of Henry II's refusal to acknowledge his position, he turns to the Crusades.
  • Episode 3 - 14.03.2010 - The fourth son of Henry II never expected to succeed to the English throne. When he does, he reveals a talent for making enemies.

Cast

  • King Henry II ................................. David Warner
  • Queen Eleanor ............................... Jane Lapotaire
  • Prince Richard ........................... Joseph Cohen-Cole
  • Prince Hal .................................... Piers Wehner
  • Prince Geoffrey .............................. Rhys Jennings
  • William Marshall ............................. Stephen Hogan
  • Bertran de Bourne .......................... Bruce Alexander
  • King Louis ...................................... Philip Fox
  • Courtier ...................................... John Biggins
  • Richard ........................................ Ed Stoppard
  • King Philip ................................... John Biggins
  • Saladin .......................................... Raad Rawi
  • El-adel ....................................... Khalid Laith
  • Baldwin ........................................ Ewan Hooper
  • Prince John ..................................... Neil Stuke
  • Hugh ............................................ Philip Fox
  • Robert of Champagne .......................... Rhys Jennings
  • Conrad ........................................ Piers Wehner
  • King Richard ................................... Ed Stoppard
  • Prince Arthur .................................. Ryan Watson
  • Queen Isabelle .......................... Emerald O'Hanrahan
  • Doctor/Langton ................................. Ewan Hooper
  • Girard ................................... Joseph Cohen-Cole
  • De Roche ................................... Bruce Alexander
  • Fitzwalter .................................... Piers Wehner
  • Will Marshall ................................ Rhys Jennings
  • Prince Henry ................................ Bertie Gilbert

Critical Reception

Review From The Radio Times
This is brilliant drama. Not since I Claudius was broadcast on television in 1976 has there been such an important and powerful portrayal of a scheming family hurtling towards its own destruction than Mike Walker's three-parter on the Plantagenet dynasty.
Set in Europe just after the Dark Ages, this is a story of bloody battles, guile as Eleanor of Aquitaine filthy immorality, stinking pestilence and political intrigue so ripe and twisted that The Thick of It or The West Wing are but lightweight tales by comparison.
Henry II (played with emotional and intellectual force by David Warner) is the cunning but elderly King of England. His wife, Eleanor of Aguitaine (in a powerhouse performance of feminine guile by Jane Lapotaire), loves art, poetry and music - but not her husband. The eldest three of their fours sons all want power, wealth, property and esteem. This devil's brood of a family turn upon each other as guickly as the wind changes a weather vane.
Walker uses language that is vibrant and modern enough for us to follow the plot with ease, but writes it as a mixture of prose, poetry and blank verse. The vital sense of history is sustained, while the story hammers us through a course of trials, from the opening bloody hunt of a wild boar through to the rasping, tragic death of one of the key characters at the end of this first episode. Terrific.

-- Jane Anderson

References

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