The First Churchills

"The First Churchills" was a BBC miniseries from 1969 about the life of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and his wife, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. It starred John Neville as the duke and Susan Hampshire as the duchess, was written and produced by Donald Wilson, and was directed by David Giles.

The miniseries presents the lives of John and Sarah Churchill from their meeting in 1673 until a time shortly before the first duke's death in 1722, and shows, along the way, much of the context of English politics at the same time. Like many BBC miniseries of the era, it was made on a low production budget, with sound studio sets, and generally avoided battle and crowd scenes out of inability to stage them in a convincing manner. The series is based on the Marlboroughs' famous descendant Winston Churchill's life of his ancestor the Duke, and as such presents a very favourable portrait of the Marlboroughs.

The closing credits theme is the second piece, a Rondeau, of Henry Purcell's incidental music, composed about 1695, to Aphra Behn's 1676 play "Abdelazer, or The Moor's Revenge".


The miniseries depicts most of the important political figures of the day:

*King Charles II: James Villiers
*King James II: John Westbrook
*Queen Mary, wife to James II: Sheila Gish
*King William III: Alan Rowe
*Queen Mary II: Lisa Daniely
*Queen Anne: Margaret Tyzack
*Prince George of Denmark: Roger Mutton
*King Louis XIV: Robert Robinson
*Sidney Godolphin: John Standing
*Lord Shaftesbury: Frederick Peisley
*Lord Shrewsbury: Job Stewart
*James, Duke of Monmouth: James Kerry
*Robert Harley: Richard Pearson
*Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland: Moira Redmond
*Francis Godolphin: Richard Warwick
*Henrietta Churchill: Polly Adams
*John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: Graham Armitage
*Lord Russell: Colin Bean
*Duchess of Portsmouth: Consuela Chapman
*Charles Churchill: Michael Culver
*Nell Gwyn: Andrea Lawrence
*D'Artagnan: Michael Lynch
*Henrietta Wentworth: Kay Patrick
*Marquess of Carmarthen: Arthur Pentelow
*Duke of Buckingham: Bruce Purchase
*Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester: John Ringham
*Titus Oates: Nicholas Smith
*Henry St John: Michael Attwell
*Abigail Masham: Jill Balcon
*James Stuart, the Old Pretender: Freddie Wilson
*Anne Churchill: Yvonne Antrobus
*Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland: Robert Mill
*Adam de Cardonnel: William Job
*William Cadogan: Bernard Taylor
*John Churchill, Marquess of Blandford: Francis Wallis
*Anthonie Heinsius: David King
*Count Wratislaw: Kenneth Ives
*Prince Eugene of Savoy: John Saunders
*Marshal Tallard: Edward Dentith
*Elector of Bavaria: Guy Standeven
*Lord Cutts: Donald Sumpter
*Margrave of Baden: Clive Cazes
*Sir John Vanbrugh: John Carlin
*Samuel Masham: Gordon Whiting
*Lord Somers: Charles West
*Marquis de Torcy: Derek Cox
*Duchess of Somerset: Rosina Stewart
*Duke of Somerset: Clifford Parrish
*Lord Halifax: Austin Trevor
*Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland: John Humphry
*Lady Sunderland: Lillias Walker
*Archbishop Sancroft: Kevin Stoney
*Count Bentinck, later Lord Portland: Roger Booth
*Robert Young: Davyd Harries
*Bishop Sprat: Julian d'Albie
*Archbishop Tenison: Graham Leaman
*Duke of Gloucester: Michael Reynolds

External links

*imdb title|id=0065292|title=The First Churchills

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