Monday 30 April 2018

Babylon Berlin / VIDEO: - Trailer l Netflix

 Babylon Berlin is a German period drama television series based on novels by Volker Kutscher (de). The series takes place in 1929 during the Weimar Republic and follows police inspector Gereon Rath, who has been transferred from the city of Cologne to Berlin, and aspiring police inspector Charlotte Ritter. The first series premiered on 13 October 2017 on Sky 1, a German-language entertainment channel broadcast by Sky Deutschland. The first novel of the book series, which put a premium on historical accuracy, is entitled Der Nasse Fisch (literally "The Wet Fish") (2008).

The series is the most expensive television drama series not made in English, costing nearly $40 million to make. It was co-directed by Tom Tykwer, Hendrik Handloegten and Achim von Borries, who also wrote the scripts. For the first time in history of German TV, German public broadcaster ARD and pay TV channel Sky co-produced the series. Sky broadcast the series initially as part of the arrangement and ARD will broadcast it on free-to-air television around a year later. Netflix purchased broadcast rights for the United States and Canada.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the show's co-creator, Tom Tykwer, spoke about the era; “At the time people did not realize how absolutely unstable this new construction of society which the Weimar Republic represented was. It interested us because the fragility of democracy has been put to the test quite profoundly in recent years... By 1929, new opportunities were arising. Women had more possibilities to take part in society, especially in the labor market as Berlin became crowded with new thinking, new art, theater, music and journalistic writing.” Nonetheless, Tykwer insisted that he and his co-directors were determined not to idealize the Weimar Republic. “People tend to forget that it was also a very rough era in German history. There was a lot of poverty, and people who had survived the war were suffering from a great deal of trauma.”

A metropolis in turmoil. From economy to culture, politics to the underworld – everything is in the grip of radical change.

Speculation and inflation are already tearing away at the foundations of the still young Weimar Republic. Growing poverty and unemployment stand in stark contrast to the excesses and indulgence of the city’s night life and its overflowing creative energy.

Gereon Rath, a young police inspector from Cologne, is transferred to Berlin in order to solve a criminal case – a porno ring run by the Berlin Mafia. What at first glance appears to be simply a matter of extortion soon reveals itself to be a scandal that will forever change the lives of both Gereon and his closest associates.

Together with stenotypist Charlotte Ritter and his partner Bruno Wolter, Rath is confronted with a tangled web of corruption, drug dealing, and weapons trafficking, forcing him into an existential conflict as he is torn between loyalty and uncovering the truth. And we are left wondering: in this story, who is friend and who is foe?

With the political unrest spurred by May Day demonstrations and rising National Socialism, even an institution like the “Rote Burg,” Berlin’s police headquarters and the centre of democracy and the constitutional state, is increasingly becoming the melting pot of a democracy whose days are numbered.

Based on the best-selling novels by Volker Kutscher, BABYLON BERLIN is the first German TV series where viewers can emotionally experience the story of the political developments leading from the Weimar Republic to the spread of National Socialism.

Through the eyes of Gereon Rath, the young police inspector from Cologne, we get a glimpse behind the scenes of the “Roaring Twenties,” which not only brought the Great Depression, but where “dancing on the volcano” became the stuff of legend.

Since May 2016 and continuing on until the end of this year, X Filme Creative Pool,  ARD, SKY, and Beta Film are bringing the 1920´s back to life on original sites in Berlin, namely the back lot set  “Neuen Berliner Straße” at the Studio Babelsberg and in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Sky will broadcast the series in 2017 and ARD in 2018. As co-producer, Beta Film will be responsible for the worldwide distribution of the series.

Back in 2007, just as author Volker Kutscher finished  „Der nasse Fisch“, the first entry in his series of novels about detective Gereon Rath, he broke new ground on the literary scene.  Historical crime novels set in Nazi-Germany had been written before, but a series dealing with the “golden” 1920´s had never been published until then.

An especially exciting phase of German history, the 1920´s were marked by radical changes in society, a fact Kutscher combines in his novels with classic noir elements, reminiscent of hard-boiled American writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler back in the day. This is an approach mirrored in the choice of making the protagonist a detective who is being transferred from Cologne to Berlin. Following this ambitious, yet politically indifferent anti-hero, the reader can explore the old “Chicago at the river Spree” and vicariously experience how a young, promising democracy with great progressive tendencies could descend into a rule of fascism.

Gereon Rath´s cases are meticulously researched history lessons during which the author confronts fictional as well as non-fictional characters with historic events while never losing sight of the detective story. Kutscher uses a gripping, scenic narrating style which presents the intoxicating world of a doomed Weimar Republic brought back to live in stunning detail and perfectly serves as a basis for a TV adaptation. Kutscher has stated that the ground-braking HBO series “The Sopranos” (1999-2007) served as an inspiration for him – and also the fact he had seen two movies in quick succession in 2002: Sam Mendes´ hard-boiled gangster film “Road to Perdition” set in 1931 and Fritz Lang´s 1931 masterpiece “M”, made in Berlin. The idea of blending both of those worlds in a crime novel was born.

Volker Kutscher was born 1962 in Lindar, North Rhine-Westphalia. After studying German literature, philosophy, and history, he worked as an editor for a daily newspaper. In 1996, he published his first crime novel „Bullenmord“, set in his native region Bergisches Land. His award-winning Gereon Rath series, published by Kiepenbauer & Witsch, consists at this point of “Der nasse Fisch” (2007), “Der stumme Tod” (2009), “Goldstein” (2010), “Die Akte Vaterland” (2012), and “Märzgefallene” (2014), all using Berlin during 1929-1931 as a scenic backdrop. Kutscher’s 6th novel, “Lunapark”, will be released in November 2016 and will be set in summer 1934. At least three more entries in the series will follow.

The Babelsberg Studio exterior sets were extended for the shooting of the series. Shooting locations were also some original sites in Berlin and Germany, like the Museums Island and the Alexanderplatz and the Hermannplatz in Berlin, or the Church of the Redeemer on the Havel river in Potsdam. The Berlin City Hall was used for police headquarters and the scenes in the Moka Efti night club were filmed at the Delphi Cinema[2] in Berlin-Weissensee. The scenes in the estate of the Nyssen family were filmed at Schloss Drachenburg, a castle in the Rhineland. Scenes involving a steam train were filmed at the Bavarian Railway Museum near Nördlingen.

Volker Bruch as Inspector Gereon Rath, a combat veteran of the Imperial German Army during World War I and a policeman in both Cologne and Berlin. A Roman Catholic and family friend of future West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Inspector Rath struggles to reconcile his faith with his ongoing affair with Helga Rath, his sister-in-law. Rath also struggles with PTSD linked to his war experiences and survivor's guilt over the loss of his brother, Anno Rath, who is still listed as missing in action. Secretly, Rath self-medicates by taking morphine.

Liv Lisa Fries as Charlotte Ritter, a flapper from the slums of Wedding, occasional prostitute at the Moka Efti cabaret, and feminist who dreams of becoming the first female Homicide Detective in the history of the Berlin Police.

Peter Kurth as Detective Chief Inspector Bruno Wolter, a Berlin Police investigator whose affability masks a willingness to extort sex from unregistered prostitutes and even to murder his fellow cops in cold blood. Despite this, Wolter also shows great kindness to Charlotte Ritter by paying funeral expenses and comforting her when her mother dies.

Matthias Brandt as Councillor August Benda, a Jewish Social Democrat and the head of the Berlin Political Police. A tenacious investigator and true believer in the Weimar Republic, Benda is equally loathed by Monarchists, Communists, and Nazis. For years, the Councillor has been investigating a secret military build up which defies the Treaty of Versailles. He calls this shadow army, "The Black Reichswehr," and believes that, unless they are stopped, they will overthrow the Republic and plunge Europe into another World War.

Leonie Benesch as Greta Overbeck, a childhood friend of Charlotte Ritter and domestic servant to Councillor Benda and his family. After a disastrous romance in Series Two, Greta is reluctantly drawn into a conspiracy to assassinate Benda by planting a concealed bomb in his home.

Ernst Stötzner as Major General Kurt Seegers, a member of the Reichswehr's General Staff and DCI Bruno Wolter's commanding officer during the Great War. Gen. Seegers has secretly been building Germany a large and modern military through secret military bases and armaments factories in the Soviet Union. Although Seegers' violations of the Treaty of Versailles are known and approved of by German President Paul von Hindenburg and "half the Reichstag", he routinely orders the assassination of journalists and investigators who get too close to his secret activities. General Seegers is also the mastermind of a planned coup d'etat to overthrow the Republic, arrest all politicians expected to oppose its abolition, and to restore Kaiser Wilhelm II to the German throne. He is the primary antagonist of Series One and Two.

Denis Burgazliev as Col. Trochin, a Soviet diplomat and official of Joseph Stalin's secret police. Under orders from his superiors, Trochin routinely masterminds the abduction, torture, and murder of both real and imagined anti-Stalinists among Berlin's Russian community. With help from Charlotte Ritter, Inspector Gereon Rath conclusively ties Trochin and the Soviet Embassy staff to the machine gun slayings of fifteen Trotskyists found in a mass grave in the forest outside Berlin and to the abduction, torture, and murder of a sixteenth Trotskyist found floating in a Berlin canal. Using this evidence, Trochin is blackmailed by Councillor Benda. Although Trochin and his staff have diplomatic immunity from German prosecution, he knows that Stalin will have him tortured and shot for having been caught so easily. Therefore, Trochin breaks into his own offices by night, steals evidence of Soviet collusion with "The Black Reichswehr", and gives the evidence to Rath and Benda. Trochin's staff are then released into his custody.

Severija Janušauskaitė as Countess Svetlana Sorokina / Nikoros a Russian White emigre, singer at the Moka Efti cabaret, and spy for the Soviet secret police. The Countess is also the secret lover of both Trotskyist leader Alexei Kardakov and right wing industrialist Alfred Nyssen.

Hannah Herzsprung as Helga Rath, Inspector Gereon Rath's secret lover of more than ten years and the wife of his brother who went missing in the Great War.

Ivan Shvedoff as Alexei Kardakov, an anti-Stalinist Russian refugee and the leader of a Trotskyist cell in Berlin.

Lars Eidinger as Alfred Nyssen, an arms manufacturer with links to Reichswehr and Freikorps officers plotting to overthrow the Republic and restore Kaiser Wilhelm II to the German throne. As expressed in conversation with Councillor Benda, Nyssen believes that the Republic is an aberration and that the absence of the monarchy is a disgrace to Germany. As Benda then retorts, Nyssen and his comrades are not only Monarchists, but also anti-Semites who thoroughly detest the ruling Social Democratic Party of Germany. In Series Two, Nyssen witnesses an impassioned speech against rearmament by Helga Rath and invites her to a romantic dinner. She is seen to accept.

Anton von Lucke as Stephan Jänicke, a Detective in the Berlin Police who has been assigned by Councillor Benda to investigate DCI Bruno Wolter for ties to "The Black Reichswehr."

Fritzi Haberlandt as Elisabeth Behnke, a grieving war widow and Gereon Rath's landlady. She is implied to be a secret lover of DCI Bruno Wolter, who served with her husband during the Great War.
Jördis Triebel as Doctor Völcker, a female physician in the slums of Kreuzberg and senior member of the Communist Party of Germany. As Inspector Gereon Rath learns in the Series Two finale, Doctor Völcker sometimes orders the murders of police officers, "on behalf of the repressed masses."

Mišel Matičević as Edgar "The Armenian", the impeccably dressed owner of the Moka Efti cabaret, and the leader of organized crime in Berlin. A ruthless, but also deeply principled gangster, "The Armenian" claims to "own the police" and routinely uses intimidation and blackmail to get what he wants. He is also not above murdering police officers when it suits his purposes. For reasons that are only later made clear, "The Armenian" acts as a secret protector to Inspector Gereon Rath, whom he secretly respects.

Frank Künstler as "Saint Joseph", a heavily tattooed enforcer and widely feared assassin for the crime family led by Edgar "The Armenian." "Saint Joseph" routinely dresses in the cassock and Roman collar of a Catholic priest to deflect suspicion while on missions for his boss. "Saint Joseph" is ultimately killed and encased in wet cement by Inspector Gereon Rath. When the body turns up anyway, Rath steals and switches the bullet from the autopsy to deflect suspicion from himself.

Jens Harzer as Doctor Schmidt, a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of World War I veterans with PTSD. Schmidt's belief that PTSD is a treatable illness is mocked by mainstream medicine and by the general public, which sees his patients as cowards who dishonor the war dead and as parasites who are trying to shirk their obligations to society. It is revealed, however, that Doctor Schmidt has changed the lives of many of his patients for the better, including Edgar "The Armenian." Doctor Schmidt's reasons for repeatedly reaching out to Inspector Gereon Rath are revealed at the end of the Series Two finale.

Babylon Berlin review: political maelstrom, a populist right on the march – sound familiar?
This big budget, Weimar-era German police drama has plenty of contemporary resonance. And even more debauchery …

Sam Wollaston
Mon 6 Nov 2017 06.00 GMT Last modified on Thu 15 Feb 2018 12.49 GMT

A steam train hurtling purposefully through the night is suddenly stopped, screeching and sparking, by a burning tree falling on the track. Men with guns – Trotskyist train-jackers – emerge from the bushes; they won’t hurt the driver and his mate, they say, they just want their uniforms. A goods truck – containing who knows what, but I suspect something dangerous and subversive – is pulled by horse from a siding and hooked on. The driver and his mate are shot in the head; the Trots lied, it’s their train now and they are heading for Berlin.

Everything leads to and everyone is going to Berlin, Babylon Berlin (Sky Atlantic, Sunday), heart of the Weimar Republic. It might be both the best and the worst place, almost certainly the most interesting place, in the world between the wars. A place of all sorts of extremes – political, social, sexual. There’s hyperinflation, desperate poverty on the streets, shell shocked veterans of the previous war seen as broken automatons to be tossed on the scrapheap. The populist far right is gaining momentum, as it is across Europe. (Sound familiar? It might be period drama but there’s plenty of resonance.) Don’t forget the far left too, though, and that Trot express speeding to the capital.

In the nightclubs you wouldn’t know any of this was going on; they don’t seem to care, the jazz age is in full swing, they’re partying like it’s 1929, which it is. Sexing, too – everyone, with everyone else, they’re at it, the old Wie ist dein Vater. It’s fabulous debauchery and naughtiness, a political maelstrom and a ticking timebomb. I think we all know where this – and Germany – is heading.

Not a bad backdrop, then, to this lavish 16-part adaptation of the crime novels of Volker Kutscher. In the foreground is Gereon Rath, a police inspector from Cologne. Rath is a veteran of the first war too, and a sufferer of post-traumatic stress disorder. He hides his shakes by necking phials of morphine on the sly, which also helps him to forget his strict Catholic upbringing. It’s not yet clear – I don’t think – where Volker stands politically. Or what exactly he’s doing; well, he’s raiding debauched biblical porn shoots, but he seems to be delving deeper into (even) darker secrets too. Oh, and he enjoys a dance as much anyone else.

Equally intriguing is Charlotte Ritter, who by day finds work at the police HQ, cataloguing murders, in order to keep her family just about alive, while at night she’s up to no good along with the rest of Weimar.

The club scenes – plus that train, and the outside recreations of late-20s Berlin – are fabulous and stunning and reflect the massive scale and ambition of Babylon Berlin. It’s the most expensive German TV series ever, €38m (currently about £38m, I think, thanks @Nigel_Farage), took six months to film in 300 locations, using 5,000 extras; it’s literally the biggest thing to come out of Germany since the Hindenburg. Ah, but will it crash and burn, or fly high across the globe?

That’s clearly the aim, international success. Which might be both a good thing and a not so good one. Chucking money at something to create a time and a place (however fascinating – and however much it chimes with what’s going on now), plus fabulous club/dance sequences, don’t make great drama alone – just look at the preposterous Vinyl and The Get Down. This is much better than either of those – because it’s based on crime fiction, there’s the momentum of intriguing plot and character development.

But there’s also a slight blandness about it that I think is partly down to its international ambition. Forget the Hindenburg, think about sausages (let’s get as many German stereotypes in as possible, no wurst puns please, like case scenarios). This is an export sausage, not as strongly flavoured as the ones for the domestic market, but one that is meant to appeal to a wide palette … No, that doesn’t quite work, because Babylon Berlin has mainly – though not entirely – gone down well at home.

So think of the other subtitled dramas you’ve loved recently – from Scandinavia, obviously, but also Iceland, France, Germany too (Deutschland 83). They’ve been much less glitzy and glamorous (and less expensive) but moodier, quirkier and more enveloping. In trying to appeal to the many, Babylon Berlin is maybe less appealing to the few. I’m certainly in – intrigued, involved – just not quite addicted. Perhaps, like Gereon’s morphine, it will take more than two phials to get hooked.

 Sex, Drugs and Crime in the Gritty Drama ‘Babylon Berlin’

BERLIN — It’s the spring of 1929, and this city is a fast-moving modern metropolis where artistic and sexual experimentation flourishes against a backdrop of organized crime, political street battles and a fragile democratic order.

Welcome to the world of “Babylon Berlin.”

This new epic crime drama, set during the Weimar Republic, the chaotic 15-year era that preceded the Third Reich, is widely predicted to become an international television sensation. Reportedly the most expensive German-language TV show ever produced, “Babylon Berlin” aims to build on the success of other recent German hits, like “Deutschland ’83” and “The Same Sky.”

This ambitious 16-part, two-season show has already been sold to 60 TV markets. It had its British premiere on Sunday night on Sky Atlantic and will begin streaming on Netflix in the United States on Jan. 30.

Based on the best-selling novels by Volker Kutscher, the show centers on Gereon Rath, a police detective from Cologne played by Volker Bruch, who arrives in the unfamiliar capital to investigate a blackmail plot involving a sadomasochistic porn film.

The troubled young detective is assisted by Charlotte Ritter, a police typist played by Liv Lisa Fries, who strives to make the most of Weimar Berlin’s new freedoms to escape the poverty of her bleak, overcrowded tenement. By day she picks up sporadic work at police headquarters, and by night turns tricks at Moka Efti, a nightclub and temple to hedonism.

The complicated plot encompasses a Russian freight train carrying poison gas and gold; secret military maneuvers; and a brutal May Day confrontation between police and Communists. There are Soviet agents and Trotskyist agitators, a cross-dressing jazz singer, an Armenian mafia boss and a rich industrialist in cahoots with a group of army officers.

The star of the show, however, is Berlin. The lavish production lovingly recreates the city’s 1920s streets, cafes and nightclubs. Around 70 percent of the series was shot on location, with the rest filmed on a massive set at the historic Babelsberg studios.

Costing 38 million euros (about $44 million) to produce, the 180-day shoot involved three crews and three writer/directors: Tom Tykwer (of “Perfume” and “Run Lola Run” fame), Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten, who had all long sought to work together on a project based on this period.

The lavish production of “Babylon Berlin” recreates the city’s 1920s streets, cafes and nightclubs. Credit Beta Film
“The three of us had the idea to do a big panoramic view of the society at the end of the 1920s, the Weimar Republic, before we actually knew the novels,” Mr. Handloegten said.

Paul Cooke, professor of world cinemas at the University of Leeds, said TV depictions of this period have been rare. “Most obviously, Fassbinder’s ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz,’ which was a big hit in the 1970s,” he said. “It’s touched on in Edgar Reitz’s ‘Heimat,’ which was a huge international hit. But it’s later periods of history that tend to be the focus of German productions that do well internationally.”

The makers of “Babylon Berlin,” however, were interested in exploring the prelude to the Third Reich. “All these people didn’t fall from the sky as Nazis,” Mr. Handloegten said. “They had to become Nazis.”

In writing the screenplay, the creators made some key changes to the books. As well as expanding the political elements, they turned Gereon Rath into a more sympathetic character, traumatized by his experiences in World War I, prone to fits of shaking and addicted to morphine.

Charlotte Ritter is no longer a bourgeois law student but a street-smart working-class woman. “We felt very strongly that we should have a main character from this proletarian background, because Berlin was always a poor city,” Mr. Handloegten explained.

Work has already begun on Season 3, and there’s plenty more source material to draw on. Mr. Kutscher has already written six Gereon Rath novels and plans another three, culminating with Kristallnacht in 1938.

The TV adaptation is already a commercial and critical hit at home. Within a week of its German premiere on Oct. 13, the first episode had been watched by 1.2 million people — a German viewing figure bested only by “Game of Thrones.”

“The show is epic, the story is complex,” the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel wrote. “The TV version gives the material what it requires while never taking away the striking images, ambiguous characters and exciting story: everything needed to suck you in.”

The weekly magazine Der Spiegel described the show as a “masterpiece” and a “great, dizzying panorama,” and predicted that it could be “the first big German TV production since ‘Das Boot’ to have really relevant success abroad.”

The praise, however, has not been universal. The Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said: “The period it depicts may have been sensuous, but the show is not. The world of ‘Babylon Berlin’ remains behind glass.”

In Britain, the reception has been positive so far. “It’s all wonderfully gripping, and Bruch has the most pained, expressive eyes you’ll see all year,” the critic for The Financial Times wrote. “With the arrival of Charlotte … drab secretary by day, jazz baby by night, we enter the youthful Berlin of dance crazes and desperate excess.”

Some critics have also drawn parallels to current political events, like the American election of Donald J. Trump, the Brexit vote, and the arrival of the far-right Alternative for Germany in the Bundestag.

“The echoes of the ‘populism’ of the 1930s with what is going on right now is certainly a link that is being made,” Professor Cooke said. “How far this is played out in the show itself remains to be seen. But it is fair to say that these kinds of historical dramas always tend to use the past as a cipher for the present.”

But Hajo Funke, professor of political science at the Free University Berlin, cautions against making too many comparisons. “Economically, socially and politically, it was a totally different situation,” he said.

“In 1929, there was a brief phase of stability after the terrible shock at the end of World War I, the inflation crisis, the economic restrictions,” Professor Funke added. “It was not at all clear if it would be possible to overcome the next crisis.”

At the same time, he agrees that the show taps into the current mood. “It could serve to point to the dangers, to the destructive forces in society and politics,” he said.

For the makers of “Babylon Berlin,” it was crucial that the audience experience the past through the eyes of the protagonists.

In the first season, for example, Hitler is only mentioned once in passing. After all, Berlin was a left-wing bastion, and in the 1928 election, the Nazis got only 1.6 percent of the city’s votes.

“In 1929, there were no Nazis in Berlin,” said the producer Stefan Arndt. “You cannot see or even smell that there’s danger coming

Thursday 26 April 2018

THE ROYAL TABLE / At the King's Table: Royal Dining Through the Ages by Susanne Groom / For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace by Kathryn Jones.

At the King's Table: Royal Dining Through the Ages – October 15, 2013
by Susanne Groom
“Here are the feasts that really are fit for a king – or queen. This delightful book explores the history of royal dining from the bustling kitchens of the Middle Ages to the informal dinner parties of today. Susanne Groom, a curator at Historic Royal Palaces, considers the diets of monarchs from Richard II to Elizabeth II, revealing the exotic beasts served at medieval courts, the 48-day picnic prepared for Henry VIII and François I of France at the Field of Cloth of Gold, the romantic suppers made for Charles II and his mistresses, Queen Victoria’s love of nursery food, and the gluttonous appetite of Edward VII. We also learn about royal table manners, the earliest cookbooks, the hiring of flamboyant chefs and the intrigues of unscrupulous kitchen staff, the ever-changing health advice given to the sovereign, and the influence of royal diet on the average family fare. Full of lively anecdotes, colourful characters, rarely seen illustrations, and menus from state banquets, weddings, coronations and jubilees, Kings, Queens, Cooks and Kitchens is a treat for all culinary fans.”

For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace – October 25, 2008
by Kathryn Jones

Release date: Tuesday, 27 May 2008

This lavishly illustrated book gives a unique insight into nearly 500 years of royal dining, from Henry VIII’s tournament feast at Greenwich in 1517 to the magnificent State Banquets hosted by Her Majesty The Queen today.  Previously unpublished material from the Royal Archives, including historic menus and recipes, show how the royal tradition of hospitality has marked coronations,  cemented  diplomatic  relations  and  celebrated  family  weddings  and  christenings. For The Royal Table provides a glimpse behind the scenes at the preparations for a State Banquet and is published to accompany the special State Banquet display at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (29 July – 29 September 2008).

Contemporary photographs show how Royal Household staff, including chefs, footmen, pages, florists and housemaids, guarantee the highest standards of presentation at a State Banquet.   The laying of the table begins two days before the dinner, and each place-setting measures exactly 45cm (18in) across.  During the meal, a system of ‘traffic lights’ keeps the team of footmen and pages synchronised; a blue light communicates ‘stand by’ and an amber light signals ‘serve the food’.  Each guest has six glasses (one each for red wine, white wine, water and port, and two for champagne – one for the toast and one for the pudding course).  A diagram of the arrangement of the glasses guides those who are unfamiliar with the sequence of service.

From the Royal Photograph Collection is a charming series of portraits of Queen Victoria’s footmen and pages, many of whom had started in royal service under her uncle, William IV.  Serving food in a royal palace presented particular challenges. Staff were instructed that ‘trays must be kept level so that there is no spilling of gravy or sauces’.  At Windsor Castle every dish had  to  be  carried  up  narrow  stairs from  the Great Kitchen to  the State Apartments.  The chefs always made twenty extra dishes for each course in case of a disaster.  Following the devastating fire of 1992, the restoration of the Castle included a complete refitting of the kitchen quarters, adding lifts to deliver the food.  Royal Household staff still prepare food in the Great Kitchen, the oldest working kitchen in England, where traditional copper pots from reign of George IV stand alongside high-tech catering equipment.

The style of dining has changed considerably over the centuries, as can been seen from the elaborate menus and recipes from past royal banquets.  At a lavish dinner given by Charles II for the Garter Knights at Windsor Castle in 1671, guests were served 145 dishes during the first course, and the catering included 16 barrels of oysters, 2,150 poultry, 1,500 crayfish, 6,000 asparagus stalks and 22 gallons of strawberries.

George IV employed the famous chef Antonin Carême, who had worked at the Napoleonic court and went on to serve Tsar Alexander I of Russia.  The book reproduces his recipe for Pike à la Régence – pike stuffed with quenelles of smelt, garnished with truffles, crayfish tails, sole fillets, bacon, eel, mushrooms, oysters, carp roes and tongues. Carême invented what was to become the king’s favourite dish, Potage de Tortue à l’Anglise (turtle soup), 80 tureens of which were served at George IV’s coronation banquet in 1821. He had a profound influence on the style and service of food, and was known for his extraordinary table decorations. The accounts for the coronation banquet include a carpenter’s bill for an ornamental temple, which would have been decorated with sugar, marzipan and sweet meats.  After the king left the table, the guests destroyed all the edible parts of the temple in their desire to secure a souvenir of the event.

Gabriel Tschumi was Master Chef to three monarchs – Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V.  In his autobiography, Tschumi recalled that for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee banquet 24 chefs were brought over from Paris to help with the cooking and that the younger apprentices in the royal kitchens attempted to grow their moustaches to resemble those of their French superiors. The book reproduces the recipe for Côtelettes de bécassines à la Souvaroff, served by Tschumi at King Edward VII’s coronation banquet in 1902.  This consisted of snipe cutlets covered in brandy, pâté and breadcrumbs, placed in a pig’s caul, and served with beans, truffles, mushrooms, and a Madeira and truffle sauce.

A job in the royal kitchens was usually for life.  Mildred Nicholls was first employed as the seventh kitchen maid at Buckingham Palace in 1907 and by 1919, when she left service, she had risen to number three in the hierarchy.  In the Royal Archives are her charming handwritten notes on the recipes used by the pastry chefs, such as Royal Plum Pudding, crème a la Carème, Pouding Soufflé à la Royale and a Danish dish known as Rodgröd.  The latter was a favourite of Queen Alexandra, the Danish consort of King Edward VII, and was often served at post-theatre supper parties at Buckingham Palace.

Review : Lynne
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Dine Like a Royal
January 14, 2013
A lovely book which details the many extensive preparations required for State banquets given at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II. Vivid color photos, both current and historical, show the exquisite table settings, lovely fruit and flower arragements, magnificent gold and silver-gilt serving pieces, exquisite Sevres service plates, glassware, linens and even how to fold a Dutch bonnet napkin. Perhaps the most spectacular is the Grand Service, which includes 14 tureens and 107 candelabra and 2,000 pieces of cutlery. The lavish display of gold plate at banquets was meant to show the monarch's wealth, power and glory and surely, it has to be a wonderous experience to sit at table with such magnificent table settings even today. I also liked seeing the historic copper moulds & color illustrations of lavish Victorian confections and ices, which would be presented at table on fantasy stands during Queen Victoria's era. Found out a secret about those whole pineapples used as table decorations -- they are actually sliced in the kitchen, reassembled and the slices are offered at desert time. There are a few recipes from the olden days, like Turtle soup, which few of us will likely experience today, since it requires a 200 lb. turtle, 2 legs of veal, ham slices, 8 fowls, various vegetables & 8 bottles of Madeira wine, which have to cook all day long. It was George IV's favorite dish. Diagrams of table placements, both old and new, show the complicated art of seating and you will read about how service personnel are trained to serve these elaborate banquets, even as to how & in what order wine glasses are removed. Hand painted menu cards in French complete the table setting. There is also a list of Heads of State entertained by Queen Elizabeth II since 1952 up through 2008, the first being King Gustaf and Queen Louise of Sweden. A fine historical record for anyone interested in royal dining. Dinner any

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Anthony Horowitz / Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes

Anthony Horowitz, OBE (born 5 April 1955) is an English novelist and screenwriter specialising in mystery and suspense. His work for young adult readers includes The Diamond Brothers series, the Alex Rider series, and The Power of Five series (a.k.a. The Gatekeepers).

His work for adults includes the play Mindgame (2001), the two Sherlock Holmes novels The House of Silk (2011) and Moriarty (2014), Magpie Murders (2016) and The Word is Murder (2017). He is also the most recent author chosen to write a James Bond novel by the Ian Fleming estate, titled Trigger Mortis (2015).

He has also written for television, contributing scripts to ITV's Agatha Christie's Poirot and Midsomer Murders. He was the creator and writer of the ITV series Foyle's War, Collision and Injustice and the BBC series New Blood.

Horowitz was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, into a wealthy Jewish family, and in his early years lived an upper-middle class lifestyle. As an overweight and unhappy child, Horowitz enjoyed reading books from his father's library. At the age of 8, Horowitz was sent to Orley Farm, a boarding preparatory school in Harrow, Middlesex. There, he entertained his peers by telling them the stories he had read. Horowitz described his time in the school as "a brutal experience", recalling that he was often beaten by the headmaster.

At age 13 he went on to Rugby School, a public school in Rugby, Warwickshire. Horowitz's mother introduced him to Frankenstein and Dracula. She also gave him a human skull for his 13th birthday. Horowitz said in an interview that it reminds him to get to the end of each story since he will soon look like the skull. From the age of 8, Horowitz knew he wanted to be a writer, realizing "the only time when I'm totally happy is when I'm writing". He graduated from the University of York with a lower second class degree in English literature and art history in 1977, where he was in Vanbrugh College.

In at least one interview, Horowitz claims to believe that H. P. Lovecraft based his fictional Necronomicon on a real text, and to have read some of that text.

Horowitz's father was associated with some of the politicians in the "circle" of prime minister Harold Wilson, including Eric Miller. Facing bankruptcy, he moved his assets into Swiss numbered bank accounts. He died from cancer when his son Anthony was 22, and the family was never able to track down the missing money despite years of trying.

Horowitz now lives in Central London with his wife Jill Green, whom he married in Hong Kong on 15 April 1988. Green produced Foyle's War, the series Horowitz wrote for ITV. They have two sons. He credits his family with much of his success in writing, as he says they help him with ideas and research. He is a patron of child protection charity Kidscape.

Anthony Horowitz's first book, The Sinister Secret of Frederick K Bower, was a humorous adventure for children, published in 1979[11] and later reissued as Enter Frederick K Bower. In 1981 his second novel, Misha, the Magician and the Mysterious Amulet was published and he moved to Paris to write his third book. In 1983 the first of the Pentagram series, The Devil's Door-Bell, was released. This story saw Martin Hopkins battling an ancient evil that threatened the whole world. Only three of four remaining stories in the series were ever written: The Night of the Scorpion (1984), The Silver Citadel (1986) and Day of the Dragon (1986). In 1985, he released Myths and Legends, a collection of retold tales from around the world.

In between writing these novels, Horowitz turned his attention to legendary characters, working with Richard Carpenter on the Robin of Sherwood television series, writing five episodes of the third season. He also novelised three of Carpenter's episodes as a children's book under the title Robin Sherwood: The Hooded Man (1986). In addition, he created Crossbow (1987), a half-hour action adventure series loosely based on William Tell.

In 1988, Groosham Grange was published. This book went on to win the 1989 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award. It was partially based on the years Horowitz spent at boarding school. Its central character is a thirteen-year-old "witch", David Eliot, gifted as the seventh son of a seventh son. Like Horowitz's, Eliot's childhood is unhappy. The Groosham Grange books are aimed at a slightly younger audience than Horowitz's previous books.

This era in Horowitz's career also saw Adventurer (1987) and Starting Out (1990) published. However, the most major release of Horowitz's early career was The Falcon's Malteser (1986). This book was the first in the successful Diamond Brothers series, and was filmed for television in 1989 as Just Ask for Diamond, with an all star cast that included Bill Paterson, Jimmy Nail, Roy Kinnear, Susannah York, Michael Robbins and Patricia Hodge, and featured Colin Dale and Dursley McLinden as Nick and Tim Diamond. It was followed in 1987 with Public Enemy Number Two, and by South by South East in 1991 followed by The French Confection, I Know What You Did Last Wednesday, The Blurred Man and most recently The Greek Who Stole Christmas.

Horowitz wrote many stand-alone novels in the 1990s. 1994's Granny, a comedy thriller about an evil grandmother, was Horowitz's first book in three years, and it was the first of three books for an audience similar to that of Groosham Grange. The second of these was The Switch, a body swap story, first published in 1996. The third was 1997's The Devil and His Boy, which is set in the Elizabethan era and explores the rumour of Elizabeth I's secret son. In 1999, The Unholy Grail was published as a sequel to Groosham Grange. The Unholy Grail was renamed as Return to Groosham Grange in 2003, possibly to help readers understand the connection between the books. Horowitz Horror (1999) and More Horowitz Horror (2000) saw Horowitz exploring a darker side of his writing. Each book contains several short horror stories. Many of these stories were repackaged in twos or threes as the Pocket Horowitz series.

Horowitz began his most famous and successful series in the new millennium with the Alex Rider novels. These books are about a 14-year-old boy becoming a spy, a member of the British Secret Service branch MI6. There are ten books where Alex Rider is the protagonist, and an eleventh is connected to the Alex Rider series (although not part of it) : Stormbreaker (2000), Point Blanc (2001), Skeleton Key (2002), Eagle Strike (2003), Scorpia (2004) Ark Angel (2005), Snakehead (2007), Crocodile Tears (novel) (2009), Scorpia Rising (2011), and the 'connector, Russian Roulette (2013). Horowitz had stated that Scorpia Rising was to be the last book in the Alex Rider series prior to writing Russian Roulette about the life of Yassen Gregorovich., but he has returned to the series with Never Say Die (2017).

In 2003, Horowitz also wrote three novels featuring the Diamond Brothers: The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday, which were republished together as Three of Diamonds in 2004. The author information page in early editions of Scorpia and the introduction to Three of Diamonds claimed that Horowitz had travelled to Australia to research a new Diamond Brothers book, entitled Radius of the Lost Shark. However, this book has not been mentioned since, so it is doubtful it is still planned. A new Diamond Brothers "short" book entitled The Greek who Stole Christmas! was later released. It is hinted at the end of The Greek who Stole Christmas that Radius of the Lost Shark may turn out to be the eighth book in the series.

In 2004, Horowitz branched out to an adult audience with The Killing Joke, a comedy about a man who tries to track a joke to its source with disastrous consequences. Horowitz's second adult novel, Magpie Murders, is about "a whodunit writer who is murdered while he's writing his latest whodunit". Having previously spoken about the book in 2005, Horowitz expected to finish it in late 2015, and it was published in October 2016.

In August 2005, Horowitz released a book called Raven's Gate which began another series entitled The Power of Five (The Gatekeepers in the United States). He describes it as "Alex Rider with witches and devils". The second book in the series, Evil Star, was released in April 2006. The third in the series is called Nightrise, and was released on 2 April 2007. The fourth book Necropolis was released in October 2008. The fifth and last book was released in October 2012 and is named Oblivion.

In October 2008, Anthony Horowitz's play Mindgame opened Off Broadway at the Soho Playhouse in New York City. Mindgame starred Keith Carradine, Lee Godart, and Kathleen McNenny. The production was the New York stage directorial debut for Ken Russell. Recently he got into a joke dispute with Darren Shan over the author using a character that had a similar name and a description that fitted his. Although Horowitz considered suing, he decided not to.

In March 2009 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.

On 19 January 2011, the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle announced that Horowitz was to be the writer of a new Sherlock Holmes novel, the first such effort to receive an official endorsement from them and to be entitled The House of Silk. It was both published in November 2011 and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. A follow-up novel, Moriarty, was published in 2014.

In October 2014, the Ian Fleming estate commissioned Horowitz to write a James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, which was released in 2015. It will be followed by a second novel, Forever and A Day, which is set to come out on 31st May 2018.

Horowitz was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to literature.

Writing for television and film
Horowitz began writing for television in the 1980s, contributing to the children's anthology series Dramarama, and also writing for the popular fantasy series Robin of Sherwood. His association with murder mysteries began with the adaptation of several Hercule Poirot stories for ITV's popular Agatha Christie's Poirot series during the 1990s.

Often his work has a comic edge, such as with the comic murder anthology Murder Most Horrid (BBC Two, 1991) and the comedy-drama The Last Englishman (1995), starring Jim Broadbent. From 1997, he wrote the majority of the episodes in the early series of Midsomer Murders. In 2001, he created a drama anthology series of his own for the BBC, Murder in Mind, an occasional series which deals with a different set of characters and a different murder every one-hour episode.

He is also less-favourably known for the creation of two short-lived and sometimes derided science-fiction shows, Crime Traveller (1997) for BBC One and The Vanishing Man (pilot 1996, series 1998) for ITV. While Crime Traveller received favourable viewing figures it was not renewed for a second season, which Horowitz accounts to temporary personnel transitioning within the BBC. In 2002, the detective series Foyle's War launched, set during the Second World War.

He devised the 2009 ITV crime drama Collision and co-wrote the screenplay with Michael A. Walker.

Horowitz is the writer of a feature film screenplay, The Gathering, which was released in 2003 and starred Christina Ricci. He wrote the screenplay for Alex Rider's first major motion picture, Stormbreaker.

Anthony Horowitz: 'People used to disagree. Now they send death threats'
By Danuta Kean
He had a privileged upbringing but then his family lost everything. As he takes his biggest risk yet, the writer talks about surviving his childhood – and the storm he caused about writing black characters

Sun 27 Aug 2017 16.00 BST Last modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 13.19 GMT

‘I was called names when I was eight,” says Anthony Horowitz. “I will not tell you them now because I would be physically sick if they passed my lips.” The writer pauses momentarily, his brown eyes fixing mine. “I just couldn’t do it. These things do hurt.”

Tall, slim and wearing black jeans, the 62-year-old could, until this moment, have passed for a much younger man. But as he recalls his childhood, suddenly the years seem to catch up with him. We meet in the London offices of the TV production company run by his wife, Jill Green, to chat about his latest novel, The Word Is Murder. We are a stone’s throw from their penthouse in a renovated bacon factory. It seems rather fitting – because he certainly brings home the bacon. Horowitz, who has houses in Crete, Suffolk and London, is one of the highest earning writers in Britain.

On the walls are testimonies to his success: framed covers of his multi-million-selling Alex Rider novels about the boy recruited by MI6, whose adventures were turned into a film in 2006; a giant poster for his wartime detective drama Foyle’s War; and shelves laden with books and DVDs of his many hit shows, including New Blood, Injustice and Midsomer Murders. But for all this success, he is still haunted by a childhood of superficial comfort. His father was a solicitor, known as a something of a fixer for prime minister Harold Wilson. His nefarious business dealings weren’t revealed until his death: his millions had been squirrelled into Swiss bank accounts under assumed names; the money was never recovered and the shock of the family’s bankruptcy for Horowitz, then 23, gave him a lifelong horror of debt – and a ferocious work ethic.

What was lost was considerable: the family home, White Friars, was so big that when demolished it was replaced by no fewer than 16 five-bedroom houses. Both his parents were away much of the time, leaving Horowitz and his two siblings in the care of servants and his grandmother, a woman of such hellish cruelty he used her as the template for the eponymous villain in his children’s novel Granny.

Being packed off to boarding school at the age of eight could have been an escape. But this was the 1960s, when beatings were a way of life in such schools. At Orley Farm in Harrow, Horowitz was often left bleeding after six of the best. He worries that remembering such things sounds like whingeing, when other children lived in dire poverty. But, as the patron of the anti-bullying charity Kidscape, he says: “Emotional cruelty ignores wealth and position.” Such vicious treatment of children in boarding schools in the 60s, he believes, has had a detrimental impact on society. “It is why so much of this country is dysfunctional.”

It was not just the beatings that scarred the writer: being plump and Jewish made him an easy target for other boys. At night, he escaped by telling stories to schoolmates after lights out in his dorm. In those tales, he found salvation and developed an ambition to be a writer. It is clearly painful to recall. Why does he talk about it? “For one very simple reason,” he snaps back, with barely concealed irritation. “People like yourself always ask about it.”

I ask if he’d rather not be asked about his childhood and there is a long pause. “It’s not my business to tell you what you can and can’t ask me,” he says eventually. Written down, the words look harsher than they sound. “No, I’m happy to talk about it because…” He pauses, pressing his hands into his lap like a schoolboy sitting outside the head’s office. The PR sharing the room with us, nods and he enters into a convoluted explanation about how he regards the granting of an interview for publicity as a kind of contract in which “I provide you with the material you want”.

The PR, I suspect, is here to protect a writer with a reputation for shooting from the lip, making him a gift to headline-writers, which is why his audiences at book festivals are always peppered with reporters scribbling away. This very day, the Times is running with a story picked up from an event at the Edinburgh festival, in which he contested that theatres should not give critics free tickets because a savaging can kill a show. Within days, the Stage responded with an article by an actor in his play Dinner With Saddam castigating Horowitz for writing a flop that “shoehorned the tragedy of the 2003 invasion of Iraq into the format of a bawdy 1970s British sitcom”.

Although the father of two insists he is inured to such coverage, the admission that his son Cass offered to sit in on our interview suggests that it does get to him. In May, the Mail on Sunday reported that he accused his publisher, Walker, of pressuring him into dropping a black character because of “cultural appropriation”.

A Twitter storm erupted, led by Rivers of London writer Ben Aaronovitch. “If you don’t feel confident or just don’t want to write black characters, just say so,” he seethed. “Don’t pretend it’s political correctness gone mad.” Authors of colour, including Orangeboy writer Patrice Lawrence, accused the Rugby alumnus of hijacking the issue of diversity in fiction.

Horowitz sighs when I ask about the claim, strenuously denied by Walker. “I didn’t say anything that can be construed as contrary,” he says. “I was merely drawing attention to this movement of cultural appropriation, which is very strong in America.” His voice rises an octave and he adds: “I am not saying that it is shocking or wrong or disgusting. I did say, however, that its natural outcome would be that I would end up only writing about 63-year-old writers who live in Clerkenwell and have two sons.” He praises Lionel Shriver – “whose work I love” – for speaking out on the subject and insists that, far from disagreeing with political correctness, he regards it as “absolutely 100% right”.

The mobbing disturbs him, though. He thinks it’s symptomatic of a rage in society that has grown since the Brexit vote. “There is a rigidity in the way we have begun to think and speak. If we step outside certain lines on certain issues, we find not just people disagreeing, but disagreeing to the extent of death threats. When somebody says something untoward in the press, and I am not saying this about myself, people don’t just say that was a stupid thing to say. They say, ‘Lose your job.’ They want you to never ever have an income again.”

It is a theme that emerges in the new novel. The Word Is Murder is first in a series about Hawthorne, an ex-cop turned gumshoe who seems to be straight out of central casting: ageing loner, problems with authority, smoker, secretive, divorced. But, as the novel progresses, the carapace is demolished and, Horowitz promises, the next eight or nine books (he is undecided) will provide surprising revelations.

The book could be seen as Horowitz’s most audacious yet, since he has taken the unusual step of placing himself at the centre of the story, narrating Hawthorne’s exploits. It is an attempt at meta-fiction more usually the preserve of self-consciously literary writers like Martin Amis or Bret Easton Ellis and the author admits being nervous about the reception of his 46th novel.

The book certainly has its moments, in particular the laugh-out-loud funeral scene and a chapter in which Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson discuss Horowitz’s screenplay for a Tintin movie. It is based on a real meeting he had in Paris.

 Writing saved me. Simple as that. When I was 10, and inadequate in many ways, writing was a lifeline
With 10 million words under his belt, Horowitz has long toyed with penning a guide that details everything from how to plot a novel to how to deal with TV executives. “I even started to write it. But it was dull and slightly arrogant and, at the end of the day, it just didn’t interest me.” He laughs, unfazed by failure, which he regards as a healthy corrective.

Whatever happens with this book, it will not hold back the creator of Alex Rider, who rattles off the projects he wishes to complete: a new children’s trilogy, more novels for adults, and several plays. As he talks, I can’t help thinking of that chubby schoolboy who tells stories to keep his spirits up in a school he will one day describe as a “cesspit”.

“My writing has saved me,” he says. “Simple as that.” He looks sheepish, before breaking into a smile. “When I was 10, and inadequate in many ways, writing was a lifeline. Now I have my life pretty much sorted out. In a world where everything seems to be uncertain, writing is the only certainty I have.”

The Word Is Murder by is published by Century. It’s available at the Guardian Bookshop.

Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes committed heinous crimes against genre fiction: review
 Jasper Rees
17 OCTOBER 2016 • 10:00PM

Have we reached peak Marr? On Sunday mornings on BBC One, Andrew Marr is the new David Frost. On Mond
ay mornings on Radio 4, he’s the new Melvyn Bragg. The rest of the time, he’s a rent-a-presenter on a wide array of matters. Maybe they’re getting full use of him in return for an enormous salary, but Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers: Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes (BBC Four) finds him finally spread too thin.

In each part, Marr considers a branch of fiction that’s never up for the posh prizes. Next week it’s fantasy epics, the week after spy novels, but he started with detective fiction. The first half was devoted to Agatha Christie, whose plots he anatomised before cheerfully admitting that he didn’t actually like her books. I’m no Poirot but that looks like a crime against the licence fee.

Marr pottered on through the century, investigating the genre’s rules and tropes (the locked room conundrum, the flawed detective, etc). To illustrate various plots he moved among a cast of actors who were dressed in full period garb, but clearly there wasn’t a budget for the whole century so Marr did a bit of acting himself. If he never again pollutes the airwaves with his array of appalling accents, so much the better. He later illustrated his bullet points with copious clips of Marlowe, Wexford, Rebus and co, with the result that the second half felt more like a hasty history of TV detective drama.

It was never clear if Marr had a clue what he was talking about. His concluding thesis was that, a century from now, crime fiction is where historians will look to find out how we lived, which seems a sweeping snub to literary novelists. There are a lot of these overblown claims for popular entertainment about: a recent BBC documentary said exactly the same about sitcoms.

The best feature of this episode was a series of absorbing interviews with the great practitioners of crime fiction including Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin, welcome partly for the sound and sight of Marr listening to experts, not larking about like a performing monkey.

Monday 23 April 2018

Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892. The Duke of York ( Prince George ) trousers scandal. DAVIES & SON

“1892: Miss Fanny Hicks is forced to tell the Trade Union Congress in Glasgow that trousers made for Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of York (later King George V) were made in a Soho sweatshop where typhoid fever has broken out. Miss Hicks then discloses that Davies & Son (the Duke’s tailor) is a subcontractor of the sweatshop. The scandal of the Duke of York’s Trousers is recorded in The Pall Mall Gazette and compounded by the mysterious death of the Duke’s brother and heir apparent Prince Albert Victor in January 1892.”

“Davies & Son found itself in the centre of a royal Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892 when trade union whistle-blower Miss Fanny Hicks told the Glasgow Congress that trousers intended for the Duke of York (the future King George V) had been made in a sweatshop in Mayfair’s Woodstock Street. Miss Hicks alleged that Davies & Son had outsourced the prince’s trousers and waistcoat to the sweatshops behind Bond Street where minors had recently died of scarlet fever. Furthermore, she claimed Davies & Son had also outsourced a uniform intended for Prince Eddy, Duke of Clarence and Avondale to the self same workshop. Prince Eddy had ostensibly died of influenza complicated by pneumonia at Sandringham House in January 1892. But the Pall Mall Gazette made the link between infected garments and the death of a man once removed from the throne of Great Britain. Another victim was the youngest daughter of Davies & Son customer Sir Robert Peel. Good came from the scandal of the Duke of York’s trousers for which, incidentally, Davies & Son was exonerated.”
James Sherwood

by James Sherwood

Davies & Son is the oldest independent tailor trading on Savile Row.
Thomas Davies set up shop at No 19 Hanover Street in 1804, a year after his late brother founded the eponymous bespoke tailor on Cork Street in 1803. It was an era when the landscape of the fashionable West End of London was still under construction. The Prince Regent had yet to command John Nash to build Regent Street as a wide, colonnaded boulevard between Soho and Mayfair. Work had not commenced on the world’s longest, grandest covered shopping arcade Burlington Arcade and it it would be another 42-years before Henry Poole opened the first tailor’s shop on Savile Row. Davies, whose silhouette painted in black ink and preserved in the company archive has been reinstated as part of the trademark, was clerk to banking dynasty and army agents Greenwood, Cox & Co. He was responsible for the commission of army uniforms so it stands to reason that when he took the reins of his brother’s firm that he had a ready-made naval and military business during the Napoleonic Wars. We know that Admiral Lord Nelson was an early customer of Davies & Son and also patronised hatters James Lock & Co and Meredith of Portsmouth; the firm that became known as Gieves Ltd and, later, Gieves & Hawkes. EST 1803 SAVILE ROW Bespoke Tailors The Hanover Street house was decorated in fine late Georgian style with stucco ceilings as elaborate as royal icing and a filigree mahogany staircase that snaked upwards to the four floors above. Arbiter of fashion George ‘Beau’ Brummell and his follower the Prince Regent favoured tailors Meyer, Weston and Schweitzer & Davidson. But we know Davies had an elite civilian clientele from its earliest years. When the firm was forced to leave Hanover Street in 1979 a bill dated 1829 was discovered issued to twice Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel who founded the modern police force. When Davies & Son first felt sufficiently confident to claim they dressed ‘all the crowned heads of Europe’ is unclear because all but one of its customer ledgers did not survive. But by 1915 the firm proudly display HM King George V’s Royal Warrant on the company’s letterhead flanked by the crests of the Emperor of Russia, the Kings of the Hellenes, Spain, Denmark and Norway and Queen Victoria’s third son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. The letter also tells us that Davies & Son had a shop at No 16 Place Vendôme in Paris opposite The Ritz hotel. Queen Victoria’s grandsons the Princes Eddy and George were the first British royal customers to patronise the firm in the 1880s. Davies & Son found itself in the centre of a royal Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892 when trade union whistle-blower Miss Fanny Hicks told the Glasgow Congress that trousers intended for the Duke of York (the future King George V) had been made in a sweatshop in Mayfair’s Woodstock Street. Miss Hicks alleged that Davies & Son had outsourced the prince’s trousers and waistcoat to the sweatshops behind Bond Street where minors had recently died of scarlet fever. Furthermore, she claimed Davies & Son had also outsourced a uniform intended for Prince Eddy, Duke of Clarence and Avondale to the self same workshop. Prince Eddy had ostensibly died of influenza complicated by pneumonia at Sandringham House in January 1892. But the Pall Mall Gazette made the link between infected garments and the death of a man once removed from the throne of Great Britain. Another victim was the youngest daughter of Davies & Son customer Sir Robert Peel. Good came from the scandal of the Duke of York’s trousers for which, incidentally, Davies & Son was exonerated. Davies, Poole’s and Meyer & Mortimer put their outworking factories in order, Fanny Hicks was exposed as a union firebrand stirring up trouble and Angelica Patience Fraser - the tailors’ Florence Nightingale – embarked on a new crusade to end ‘sweating’ as well as to curb the drunkenness and vice that was virulent in the tailoring workshops of Soho and Oxford Street. Neither did the scandal deter the Duke of York who was still a Davies & Son customer when he acceded to the throne in 1910 and remained so until his death in 1936. One of the most poignant photographs in the Davies & Son archive shows King George V and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia at Cowes’ Royal Regatta in 1910 with their eldest sons the Prince of Wales and Tsarevich Alexei. The royal cousins are near identical and wear matching blazers and flannels tailored by Davies & Son. Within eight-years the Tsar and his immediate family would be executed by firing squad in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The Prince of Wales would reign for less than a year before abdicating the throne for the love of twicedivorced American Wallis Simpson. Another controversial customer from early 20th Century Russian history was the infamous bisexual Prince Felix Youssoupoff who recorded a 1903 visit to Hanover Street in his 1953 memoir Lost Splendour. The prince’s bulldog Punch tore the seat out of a fellow customer’s trousers. Prince Felix would be remembered as the man who shot the ‘mad monk’ Rasputin’ in 1917 and inadvertently speeded the downfall of the Romanov dynasty and the collapse of the Russian Empire. Another exotic customer in 1902 was the Maharaja of Cooch-Behar who ordered a tan goatskin motoring cap and two pairs of matching gauntlets. Establishment figures such as Liberal Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman also patronised Davies. Richard Walker’s Savile Row Story (1988) gives a curious insight into King George V’s relationship with Davies & Son. The King, like his father Edward VII before him who made a point of visiting Henry Poole on Savile Row socially, did not request that Davies wait on him at Buckingham Palace. ‘The firm created a room for his exclusive use and fitted it with panels and a tube-like hosepipe, which communicated with the tailors upstairs’. Presumably the fifth floor salon reserved for royal customers to entertain their lady friends the previous century had been decommissioned. In 1935 the last of Davies family relinquished the business and it was taken over by a cabal of cutters who continued to run the company until 1996. Between World War I and World War II, Davies dressed heroes Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis, Field Marshal Haig and spymaster Colonel Edward Boxshall as well as villains such as founder of the British Union of Fascists Sir Oswald Mosley. United States President Harry Truman was tailored by Davies after World War II as was President John F. Kennedy’s father Joe. Like most establishment tailors in the West End excluding Huntsman and Anderson & Sheppard, Davies & Son did not dress show business professionals before World War II. After VE Day in 1945 Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Tyrone Power and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. visited Davies & Son on Hanover Street. Echoing many tailors who survived the privations of war and clothing rationing, Davies & Son would have to adjust to the fact that (in their own words) ‘our business was built on the clothing requirements of the aristocracy of Europe and Great Britain. Today our business is mainly with the affluent and famous abroad’. When Davies changed its address to 32 Old Burlington Street (now Anderson & Sheppard) in 1979 many historic records were transferred to the Westminster Library and only a minimum of the shop fittings from Hanover Street were salvaged. No 19 Hanover Street is still standing but any original features are hidden by the interiors of a wine bar. Should you wish to see an interior comparable look at Browns restaurant on Maddox Street housed in the former Victorian showroom of Wells of Mayfair: a tailor now incorporated into Davies & Son. With 90% of business transacted overseas after the war, Davies & Son’s cutters joined the rest of Savile Row aboard the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth for transatlantic trips to New York and, from Grand Central Station, all over the United States. Davies still travels frequently to France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Korea, Japan and, in the US, to New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington and Boston. Responsibilities on trips are now shared between owner Alan Bennett, senior cutter Patrick Murphy and senior salesman Graham Lawless. Mr Bennett has a formidable record in bespoke tailoring and is one of the very few members of the ‘50 Club’ who have worked for as many years or more on the Row. His training includes studying at the London College of Fashion and apprenticeships with Huntsman, Kilgour, French & Stanbury, Dege & Skinner and Denman & Goddard. Mr Bennett traded under his own name before saving Davies & Son from closure in 1997. He relocating the firm to No 38 Savile Row. Since the acquisition, Davies & Son has incorporated historic West End bespoke tailors such as James & James (who in turn bought-out the Duke of Windsor’s tailor Scholte), Wells of Mayfair, Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes and royal and military tailor Johns & Pegg who hold the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Warrant. In addition to being a traditionalist Mr Bennett is one of the Row’s most creative cutters. In recent years he has collaborated with Guy Hills cutting suits made from Hills’s directional Dashing Tweeds cloth collections. It was he who sold Michael Jackson an Ambassadorial coatee in the 1990s giving the late king of pop one of his most iconic costumes. A new chapter was opened in Davies & Son’s story when former Huntsman head cutter Patrick Murphy joined Mr Bennett and Mr Lawless at No. 38 Savile Row in 2015. With so many once great names in Savile Row’s history sold to overseas investors and focusing increasingly on ready-towear, the few remaining firms in independent ownership gain authenticity and respect for maintaining standards and tradition. Tailors promising to revolutionise the Row or introduce modernity do not fool connoisseurs of bespoke tailoring. The aforementioned trust cutters and tailors who have practised the craft man and boy such as Messrs Bennett, Lawless and Murphy at Davies & Son