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 TV & Movies

"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

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)

 

ABOVE: Sir Ben Kingsley as Mohandas K. Gandhi

RIGHT: Peter Harlowe as Mountbatten

 

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 and Zail Singh (1916-1994), the President of India.  The British 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).

"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)

The Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven (Mountbatten's Mother) =

Dame Wendy Hiller (1912-2003)

 

Dame Janet Suzman

as Edwina (left)

with Nicol Williamson as Mountbatten

 

Nicol Williamson as Mountbatten

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), the 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). 

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!"

 

Nicol Williamson as Mountbatten

"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

 

Christopher Owen

as Mountbatten 

 

Jason Statham in "The Bank Job"

 

The alleged member of the Royal Family concerned was (according to the producers) Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002), youngest daughter of 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.

 

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 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).

"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, Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921) 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, The 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)

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. 

 

TOP: Greg Wise as Mountbatten

ABOVE: Claire Foy & Matt Smith as Queen Elizabeth II

& Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

 

The drama has received critical acclaim and won many accolades including Screen Actor Guild Awards, Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globe Awards.  

 

Filming for the third season commenced in July 2018 (to be broadcast later in 2019, with new cast members which includes Olivia Colman (b.1974) in the role of Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-    ), Tobias Menzies (b.1974) as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921), Helena Bonham Carter (b.1966) as Princess Margaret (1930-2002) and Jason Watkins (b.1966) as The Rt Hon. Harold Wilson, later Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995).  The role of Mountbatten will be played by Charles Dance (b.1946).

 

Charles Dance as Mountbatten

(a preview photograph whilst in production)

 

"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).

 

Mountbatten's daughter Pamela acted as an adviser on the film.

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)

 

Hugh Bonneville & Gillian Anderson as Mountbatten and Edwina

 

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.

 

(left to right): Hugh Bonneville, Neeraj Kabi & Gillian Anderson

as Mountbatten, Gandhi and Edwina

“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.  

 

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 (b.1917) - 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); and British actors - Bernard Miles, later Lord Miles (1907-1991) and Sir John Mills (1908-2005).  Filmed congratulatory messages included those from - comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) and the actor Douglas Fairbanks Jnr (1909-2000). 

 

Eamonn Andrews,

host of "This Is Your Life"

 

ABOVE: Mountbatten

LEFT: Mountbatten

with Eamonn Andrews (right)

BELOW: Closing title screen shot

from Mountbatten's episode of 

"This Is Your Life"

“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, CBE, QC, DL, RNR (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 Ewen Montagu =

Clifton Webb (1889-1966)

 

Lucy Sherwood =

Gloria Grahame (1923-1981)

 

Lt George Acers =

Robert Flemyng, OBE, MC (1912-1995)

 

Patrick O’Reilly =

Stephen Boyd (1931-1977)

 

Mountbatten =

Peter Williams (1915-2003)

 

(left to right): Geoffrey Keen and Peter Williams

as General Nye and Mountbatten