Kings and Queens of England
It's mad to think that since 1066, only 41 men and women have sat on the throne of England. You can trace a thousand years of our history through the lives and events of these 41 people. This six-part series made for UKTV History gets intimate with the Kings and Queens of England, from Anglo Saxon times through to Queen Elizabeth II.
The story encompasses a thousand years of lust and betrayal, heroism and cruelty, mysteries and murders, tragedies and triumphs. Some monarchs were adored by their subjects, others were loathed. But for nearly ten centuries, they have been a focal point of our daily lives and, in spite of all the changes, they are still here.
There were numerous rulers of England more than a thousand years ago, such as the tribal kings and queens that fought the Romans. However, this series begins with the story of Duke William of Normandy landing at Pevensey in 1066 to claim the throne he believed was rightfully his. When Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings he was the last Englishman to have been crowned King. From then on the sovereign would always ultimately be from a foreign family, right down to Queen Elizabeth II.
Since that defining moment likeable and not so likeable characters are explored in all their varying glory. The smooth and devious William Rufus could be seen as the Blackadder of his day, due to his constant scheming. Then there's Richard the Lionheart, who came to embody English medieval chivalry though he absolutely hated England and only bothered to visit it three times in his life, leaving his week brother John to rule over the land.
Carry on Henry
Of course, no study of our kings and queens would be complete without spending a bit of time with the mighty Henry VIII. This famously egotistical monarch sacked the monasteries, sped through various wives (two of whom he executed) and sacrificed friend and foe alike for political gain. From all his offspring it was his wise and wily daughter Elizabeth who filled his majestic shoes.
A woman's empire
More than 300 years after Elizabeth I ruled over our prospering land, another woman led Britain's growth to rule over a third of the globe. Victoria ruled for 63 years of political upheaval and industrial change in our country. Now, under the house of Windsor and another queen, the future of the monarchy is under debate, with the current royal family in the media spotlight and being scrutinised as never before.