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LOUIS, 1st EARL MOUNTBATTEN OF BURMA
Mountbatten in the Media (Films & TV)

GANDHI

This 1982 biographical film - directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, later Lord Attenborough (1923-2014) dramatised the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), the spiritual leader of Indian independence - portrayed by Sir Ben Kingsley (b.1943).  The film has become a significant piece of film history and won 9 Academy Awards (Oscars) in various categories including Best Film, Best Director (Attenborough) and Best Actor (Kingsley).  Attenborough dedicated the film to Mountbatten and Nehru.

The cast included - Gandhi = Sir Ben Kingsley (b.1943); Mountbatten = Peter Harlowe; Edwina = Jane Myerson; Nehru = Roshan Seth (b.1942); Jinnah = Alyque Pdamsee; Lord Irwin (later 1st Earl of Halifax) = Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000); 3rd Lord Chelmsford (later 1st Viscount Chelmsford) = Sir John Mills (1908-2005).

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A photograph from the film "Gandhi" showing

the arrival of Mountbatten as the newly appointed Viceroy of India:

(left to right) Roshan Seth (as Nehru); Jane Myerson (as Edwina)

and Peter Harlowe (as Mountbatten)

Peter Harlowe portraying Mountbatten

Peter Harlowe as Mountbatten

in the film "Gandhi"

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Sir Richard Attenborough

(later Lord Attenborough)

with (Sir) Ben Kingsley

with their Academy Awards

("Oscars") for the film "Gandhi"

On completion of the film, Attenborough said - "I just have a feeling of accomplishment that the movie is finished. People said we could never do it.''  The world premier of the film took place in New Delhi and was attended by Mrs Indira Gandhi (née Nehru) (1917-1984), Nehru's daughter and Prime Minister of India who accompanied Zail Singh (1916-1994), the then President of India.  The UK premier was two days later in the presence of Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948), who was accompanied by his then wife Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997).

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LORD MOUNTBATTEN:

The Last Viceroy

This television drama was first aired in the UK on ITV in 1986.  It depicts Lord Mountbatten's time from his final service as Supreme Allied Commander, SE Asia in the Second World War, his subsequent appointment as the last Viceroy of India, the days leading up to Indian & Pakistani independence through to his service as independent India's first Governor-General.

The cast included - Mountbatten = Nicol Williamson (1936-2011); Edwina = Dame Janet Suzman (b.1939); Pamela = Dreyer Weber (b.1961); Princess Louis of Battenberg, The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (Mountbatten's Mother) = Dame Wendy Hiller (1912-2003); General Hastings "Pug" Ismay (later 1st Lord Ismay) = Nigel Davenport (1928-2013); Nehru = Ian Richardson (1934-2007); Gandhi = Sam Dastor (b.1941); Jinnah = Vladek Sheybal (1923-1992).

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Vinyl album cover for the music from the TV mini-series

"Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy"

starring Dame Janet Suzman (as Edwina)

& Nicol Williamson (as Mountbatten)

Nicl Williamson portraying Mountbatten


Nicol Williamson (as Mountbatten)

in the TV mini-series

"Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy"

Williamson said of the role - "here, I thought was a man with a munificent personality, a modern hero in every sense.  A past master at making people feel both relaxed and important. Not only did he epitomise the statesmanlike qualities of tact and diplomacy, but he was possessed of a genuine charm, not a coating. He was very good at asking questions, had a high intelligence, an absorbent mind and filmic looks.  I had to play him!"

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Dame Janet Suzman (as Edwina)

in the TV mini-series

"Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy"

The titular Executive Producer for this drama series was the wealthy businessman George Walker (1929-2011), whose daughter Sarah (b.1961) was the first wife of George, 4th Marquess of Milford Haven (b.1961), a great-nephew of Mountbatten.  He helped raise the $10 million to get the series made.

The script was written by the well respected screenwriter David Butler (1927-2006) - who won a Primetime Emmy award, and Alan Campbell-Johnson (1913-1998) who had  served as Press Attaché to Mountbatten during this Viceroyalty.  Controversially the role of Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) was portrayed by a non-Indian actor - Ian Richardson (1934-2007), however in India itself, his portrayal was well received.  The series was directed by Tom Clegg (1934-2016) and produced by Judith de Paul (b.1942). 

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THE BANK JOB

This 2008 film is based on the 1971 Baker Street robbery in central London from which the money and valuables stolen were never recovered. The producers allege that the story was prevented from being told in 1971 because of a 'D-Notice' government gagging request - allegedly to protect a prominent member of the British Royal Family.  The cast included - Terry Leather = Jason Statham (b.1967); Mountbatten = Christopher Owen.

Jason Statham in "The Bank Job" ​

Jason Statham in the film "The Bank Job"

The alleged member of the Royal Family concerned was (according to the producers) Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002), the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ) who supposedly had a sexual affair with a gangland criminal and certain explicit compromising photos were stolen in the bank raid.

The Bank Job

During the story, Mountbatten (portrayed by Christopher Owen) is used as a go-between with MI5 to see the safe return of the photographs, therefore ensuring that there is no scandal.  The script was written by the script-writing partnership of Dick Clement (b.1937) and Ian La Frenais (b.1936) and directed by Roger Donaldson (b.1945).

Christopher Owen as Mountbatten 

Christopher Owen

(as Mountbatten)
in the film 
"The Bank Job"

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Script Writers (left to right)
Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais​

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THE CROWN

This Netflix biographical drama written by playwright Peter Morgan (b.1963) depicts the life of Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ).  The first season aired in November 2016 and commenced with The Queen's marriage in 1947 to Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) through to the political turmoil of the 1956 Suez crisis.  Season two aired on Netflix in November 2017 and covered the end of the Suez crisis, the marriage of Princess Margaret (1930-2002), the 'Profumo' affair through to the birth of Prince Edward (b.1964).

The cast (Seasons 1-2) included - Queen Elizabeth II = Claire Foy (b.1984); Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh = Matt Smith (b.1982); Queen Mary = Dame Eileen Atkins (b.1934); Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) = Victoria Hamilton (b.1971); King George VI = Jared Harris (b.1961); Mountbatten = Greg Wise (b.1966); Prince Edward 'David', The Duke of Windsor = Alex Jennings (b.1957); Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor = Lia Williams (b.1964); Princess Margaret = Vanessa Kirby (b.1988).

Greg Wise as Mountbatten

Greg Wise (as Mountbatten)

in Seasons 1-2​

in Netflix TV drama "The Crown"

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ABOVE: A publicity still for Seasons 3-4

of the Netflix TV drama

"The Crown"​ with (left) Josh O'Connor

(as Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales); (centre) Olivia Colman

(as Queen Elizabeth II)

and (right) Tobias Menzies

(as Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh)

RIGHT & BELOW:

Charles Dance (as Mountbatten)

in Seasons 3-4 of the Netflix TV drama
"The Crown"

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A publicity still for the Netflix TV drama "The Crown"​

with (left) Matt Smith

(as Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh)

and (right) Claire Foy (as Queen Elizabeth II)

It was reported that Netflix paid £100 million for the first 20 episodes - probably the highest sum for a TV drama. The producers have quickly gained a reputation of attention to detail, with an exact replica of The Queen's wedding dress - originally designed by Sir Norman Hartnell (1901-1979) costing £30,000.   The drama received critical acclaim and has won many accolades including Screen Actor Guild Awards, Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globe Awards.   

Filming for the third season commenced in July 2018 and was broadcast on Netflix in November 2019, with new cast members which included - Queen Elizabeth II = Olivia Colman (b.1974); Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh = Tobias Menzies (b.1974); Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales = Josh O'Connor (b.1990); Princess Margaret = Helena Bonham Carter (b.1966); Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother = Marion Bailey (b.1951); Princess Andrew of Greece & Denmark (Prince Philip's Mother) = Jane Lapotaire (b.1944); Prince Edward "David", The Duke of Windsor = Sir Derek Jacobi (b.1938); Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor = Geraldine Chaplin (b.1944) and Harold Wilson, later Lord Wilson of Rievaulx = Jason Watkins (b.1966).  The role of Mountbatten was portrayed by Charles Dance (b.1946). 

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The third season covered events including the election of The Rt Hon. (Sir) Harold Wilson, later Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995) as Prime Minister in 1964, the Investiture of The Prince of Wales in 1969, the death of The Duke of Windsor in 1972, the premiership of The Rt Hon. (Sir) Edward Heath (1916-2005), through to the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.  According to this TV drama - shortly after Mountbatten's enforced 'retirement' as Chief of the Defence Staff in 1965, he was allegedly approached by a group of plotters to unseat the Prime Minister (Wilson).


Charles Dance (as Mountbatten) reading the Rudyard Kipling poem

"The Road to Mandalay" in the Netflix TV drama "The Crown"

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Tobias Menzies

(as Prince Philip,

1st Duke of Edinburgh)
in the Netflix TV drama

"The Crown"

Season four was broadcast in November 2020 and covered the Premiership of The Rt Hon. (Lady) Margaret Thatcher, later Baroness Thatcher (1925-2013), concentrating upon the arrival and marriage of Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997) to Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales (b.1948) and their subsequent marital disputes, the 1982 Falklands War, through to Mrs Thatcher's departure from office.  The first episode includes the murder of Mountbatten in 1979 and how it affects Prince Charles and Mrs Thatcher.   

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VICEROY'S HOUSE

The film - directed by Gurinder Chadha (b.1960), depicts the life in the Viceroy's House, at the time of Mountbatten's Viceroyalty.  However, as religious and social unrest spreads across the country, it seems division is inevitable.  As Mountbatten argues the consequences with Indian leaders Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi, the effects of 'Partition' are felt by all - not least the 500 staff working at the Viceroy's home, particularly his Hindu valet Jeet - Manish Dayal, and his Muslim sweetheart Aalia - Huma Qureshi (b.1986).   The cast included - Mountbatten = Hugh Bonneville (b.1963); Edwina = Gillian Anderson (b.1968); Pamela = Lily Travers (b.1991); Nehru = Tanveer Ghani; Jinnah = Denzil Smith (b.1960); Gandhi = Neeraj Kabi (b.1968); General Hastings "Pug" Ismay (later 1st Lord Ismay) = Sir Michael Gambon (b.1940).

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Viceroy's House

Hugh Bonneville (as Mountbatten) and Gillian Anderson (as Edwina)

in the film "Viceroy's House"

The film is based on "Freedom at Midnight" by Larry Collins (1929-2005) and Dominique Lapierre (b.1931) and "The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of Partition" by Narendra Singh Sarila (b.1927), a former Prince of Sarila and an ADC to Mountbatten.  The UK premiere was held in London on 21st February 2017 and released on 3rd arch 2017. The film was released in India on 18th August 2017, in the 70th anniversary year of Independence and was dubbed into Hindi and renamed "Partition: 1947".  However, the film was banned in Pakistan.  "Viceroy's House" was also the last film of celebrated Indian actor Om Puri (1950-2017), who died a few months prior to its release.  The film has had mixed reviews, and received criticisms about its historical accuracy.  However The Washington Post's review states -"the movie accomplishes a difficult task, making sense of a complicated period in history."   

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The film's postscript reads: "The partition of India led to the largest mass migration in human history. 14 million people were displaced.  One million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs died.  This film is dedicated to all of those who died and to all those who survived partition."

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Hugh Bonneville (as Mountbatten)

in the film "Viceroy's House"

Hugh Bonneville, Neeraj Kabi & Gillian Anderson as Mountbatten, Gandhi and Edwina

ABOVE: (left to right)

Hugh Bonneville (as Mountbatten),

Nerraj Kabi (as Gandhi)

and Gillian Anderson

(as Edwina)

in the film "Viceroy's House"

LEFT: Hugh Bonneville

(as Mountbatten), 

Lily Travers (as Pamela)

& Gillian Anderson (as Edwina)

in the film "Viceroy's House"

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Lily Travers (as Pamela) and

Hugh Bonneville (as Mountbatten)

in the film "Viceroy's House"

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THIS IS YOUR LIFE

 

On 19th April 1977, Mountbatten was the guest of honour in an episode of the TV biography show - “This Is Your Life”.  The premise of the show is that the subject is surprised by the show’s host.  Then with the help of friends, family and other guests, they are taken through their life.  Mountbatten was told he was attending the TV studios to show his grandchildren episodes of his TV series “The Life & Times of Lord Mountbatten”.  The date of the 'surprise' was the date of Pamela’s birthday - a date chosen to ensure that Mountbatten would be free on that day and not suspect a gathering of his family.  The special edition of the show had taken nearly a year to plan, and as it was the year of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ) it was appropriate that a 'War hero' with significant Royal connections was the guest of honour.  

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The 'big red book'

of "This Is Your Life"

Surprising Mountbatten was the arguably the show's greatest coup.  The producer - Jack Crawshaw persuaded a selection of allies (including members of Mountbatten's family) to make the programme such a success.  Even Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) was "in" on the subterfuge, but Mountbatten was to say that Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ) had complained that she had not been told beforehand.  The TV show, hosted by Eamonn Andrews (1922-1987) was an hour long tribute, and was broadcast on 27th April 1977, to an audience of over 20 million viewers.  The guest list was considerable and included - Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020) - the 'Force’s Sweetheart' who had agreed to cut short a tour of Canada and the USA to fly back for the show; Hollywood film star/comedian  Danny Kaye (1911-1987) who flew in from Hollywood especially for the event; and British actors - Bernard Miles, later Lord Miles (1907-1991) and Sir John Mills (1908-2005) who had starred in the film "In Which We Serve" (loosely based on Mountbatten's ship - HMS Kelly.  Filmed congratulatory messages included those from - comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) and the actor Douglas Fairbanks Jnr (1909-2000).   

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LEFT: John, 7th Lord Brabourne, 

Patricia (later 2nd Countess Mountbatten

of Burma) & Mountbatten, with members

of his family seated behind

at Mountbatten's episode of

"This Is Your Life"

RIGHT: Host - Eamonn Andrews (right)

with Mountbatten

at his "This Is Your Life"

ABOVE: A screen-shot of the end title

of Mountbatten's episode of

"This Is Your Life"

RIGHT: Mountbatten at his episode of

"This Is Your Life"

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THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS

 

This film dramatised “Operation Mincemeat” - the British Intelligence plan to deceive the Axis Powers in 1943 into thinking “Operation Husky” (the Allied invasion of Sicily) would take place elsewhere in the Mediterranean during World War II.  The daring scheme of placing a dead body (known officially as Major William Martin, RM) into the sea was the concept of Lt-Cdr. (later Capt.) The Hon. Ewen Montagu (1901-1985).

 

In this 1956 film, Mountbatten is portrayed by actor Peter Williams (1915-2003), in an uncredited role.  He appears only briefly at the start of the film, during a feasibility meeting of the plan.  At this time, Mountbatten was Chief of Combined Operations.  The cast included - Lt Cdr The Hon. Ewen Montagu = Clifton Webb (1889-1966); Lucy Sherwood = Gloria Grahame (1923-1981); Lt George Acers = Robert Flemyng (1912-1995); Patrick O’Reilly = Stephen Boyd (1931-1977); Sir Bernard Spilsbury = André Morell (1909-1978); Lt-Gen Sir Archibald Nye = Geoffrey Keen (1916-2005); Admiral Cross = Laurence Naismith (1908-1992); Pam = Josephine Griffin (1928-2005); Mountbatten = Peter Williams (1915-2003).

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(left to right) Geoffrey Keen (as General Sir Archibald Nye)

& Peter Williams (as Mountbatten) in the film "The Man Who Never Was"

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THE LAST DAYS OF THE RAJ

 

This TV movie in 2007 was made by Channel 4 and was directed by Carl Hindmarch and written by Mark Hayhurst.  The drama centres on the Viceroy's House in Delhi where Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah fought and squabbled over the future of India and where British officials were charged with carving a Muslim homeland out of the religious and ethnic patchwork of the Punjab. 

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James Wilby (as Mountbatten) in the TV film

"The Last Days of the Raj"

The cast included - Mountbatten = James Wilby (b.1958); Edwina = Saskia Reeves (b.1961); Nehru = Roshan Seth (b.1942); Jinnah = Rajat Kapoor (b.1961); Gandhi = Surendra Rajan; General Hastings "Pug" Ismay (later 1st Lord Ismay) = Allan Corduner (b.1950).

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MOUNTBATTEN: Death of a Royal

This landmark documentary interviews the key figures of the tragedy, and assesses how well the scars have healed.  They look at Mountbatten's life and the impact his death had on the village of Mullaghmore, his own family and on the Royal Family.

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