Monday 31 December 2018

Tulip Fever / VIDEO:Tulip Fever Official International Trailer #1 (2016) - Alicia Vikander,...

Tulip Fever is a 2017 historical romantic drama film directed by Justin Chadwick and written by Deborah Moggach and Tom Stoppard, adapted from Moggach's novel of the same name. It stars Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O'Connell, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench, Christoph Waltz, Holliday Grainger, Matthew Morrison and Cara Delevingne. The plot follows a 17th-century painter in Amsterdam who falls in love with a married woman whose portrait he has been commissioned to paint.
Filmed in the summer of 2014, Tulip Fever was delayed numerous times before finally being released in the United States on September 1, 2017 by The Weinstein Company. It grossed $8 million worldwide against its $25 million budget.
The film was originally planned to be made in 2004 on a $48 million budget, with Jude Law, Keira Knightley and Jim Broadbent as lead actors, John Madden as director and Steven Spielberg producing through DreamWorks. However, the production was halted days before it was scheduled to start filming as a result of changes in tax rules affecting film production in the UK.
On July 8, 2013, the Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye reported that Justin Chadwick would direct the film with Alicia Vikander attached to star in the role of Sophia and that Matthias Schoenaerts was being sought for the male lead. Bamigboye reported that Chadwick together with producers Alison Owen and Harvey Weinstein, decided to cast Vikander for the film.
In 2014, Alison Owen partnered with Weinstein to restart the film after re-acquiring the rights to the film from Paramount Pictures. In October 2013, Dane DeHaan was in talks to join the cast. In February 2014, Christoph Waltz joined the cast.[12] In April 2014, Holliday Grainger, Cara Delevingne, and Jack O’Connell joined the cast. In June 2014, Judi Dench was cast as the abbess of St. Ursula, who takes in orphaned children. That same month Tom Hollander, Cressida Bonas, and David Harewood joined the cast. In August 2014, Matthew Morrison joined.[20] Deborah Moggach, author of the novel, also appears in the film. Harvey Weinstein offered Harry Styles the role of Mattheus, but the singer turned it down due to scheduling conflicts, and Matthew Morrison was cast instead.
The crew of Tulip Fever included cinematographer Eigil Bryld, production designer Simon Elliott, costume designer Michael O’Connor, hair and make-up designer Daniel Phillips and editor Rick Russell. Tom Stoppard adapted the screenplay for the film. The London-based Welsh portrait artist Jamie Routley did the original portraits that are seen in the film.Danny Elfman composed the film's score.
Filming took place at Cobham Hall in Gravesend, Kent where production transformed a wing at the school into a 17th-century Amsterdam Gracht. The waterway was also constructed from scratch, complete with barges and donkeys crossing humpback bridges. Additionally, the school's courtyard was used as the brewery yard in the story.[26] Other filming locations include Norwich Cathedral,[19] Holkham (in Norfolk),Tilbury (in Essex), Kentwell Hall (in Suffolk), and at Pinewood Studios on various dates throughout June and July in 2014.[28] Filming also took place in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire.

Set in the Netherlands in the 17th century, during the period of the tulip mania, Sophia, an orphan, is betrothed to the elderly Cornelis. In return for the marriage, her sisters are able to travel to New Amsterdam (New York) in the new world, where they have an aunt awaiting them.

Three years later, Sophia is unhappy in the marriage, since Cornelis seems to be concerned only with conceiving an heir, to no avail thus far. Cornelis believes this to have something to do with a mistake he made in the past, with his previous wife: she miscarried their first child and when Cornelis asked the doctor to save the second child over the wife, he feels that God punished him by taking both his wife and his child away.

Cornelis decides to hire a painter, so that he could at least be remembered as having had a beautiful young wife, should he have no heir to continue his legacy. Sophia agrees, but as soon as the young painter Jan arrives to paint the couple, he and Sophia fall in love. Jan sends a note to Sophia, asking her to send him a vase with tulips. She shows up at his door with the tulips, and they consummate their love.

Meanwhile, Sophia's friend, the housemaid Maria, is in a courtship with the neighborhood fishmonger, Willem. Willem is speculating in the tulip market, and is doing quite well - expecting to be independently prosperous and able to marry Maria, he even sells his business to another fishmonger. One day, Sophia borrows Maria's cloak and heads to a rendezvous with Jan. Willem, seeing Sophia in the cloak, mistakes her for Maria, and follows her to her rendezvous. Crushed by what he thinks is Maria's unfaithfulness, he goes to a pub to drown his sorrows. There a prostitute robs him of the large sum of money he has built up on the tulip market. When he tries to retrieve the money, he is beaten up and forcibly inducted into the navy for causing a ruckus.

Jan plots to escape to the new world with Sophia, after having success of his own in the tulip speculation market. He hears that the nuns at St. Ursula (the convent Sophia came from) raise tulips in their gardens. Jan attempts to steal some of the bulbs, but is knocked out by the abbess of St. Ursula. When he regains consciousness, he apologises and the abbess gives him the bulbs Willem had bought before he was thrown into the navy.

Maria realizes that she is pregnant with Willem's child. With Willem gone, the baby will be born out of wedlock. Maria explains her condition to Sophia and threatens to reveal Sophia's affair to Cornelis, if Cornelis were to find out about her pregnancy. Sophia conspires with Maria and decides to pass off the pregnancy as her own. When the baby is born, Sophia will pretend to die in childbirth, so she can leave to be with Jan, and Maria will get to raise the child as her own with Cornelis.

After Maria gives birth to a daughter and Sophia pretends to die, Cornelis is griefstricken at the loss of his wife. Sophia, under her shroud, weeps as she realizes that she has deeply hurt Cornelis with her deceit, but eventually realizes that it is too late to undo what she has done. Ashamed of herself, Sophia runs away and Jan is unable to find her.

Willem, returning after his stint in the navy, goes to see Maria at Cornelis's house. Maria is furious at him at first, but they soon reconcile. Cornelis overhears their loud quarreling and the reveal of the conspiracy between Maria, Sophia, and Jan. Cornelis makes his peace with the truth, and departs for the Indies, where he finds love and makes a family, but only after first leaving the house to Maria, Willem, and the baby girl he loved as his own.

Eight years later, the abbess of St. Ursula visits Jan and views his artwork of Sophia. She praises him for his talent, and commissions him to paint a mural in the church. When Jan looks down from painting the mural, he sees Sophia, who has joined the convent, and they share tender smiles.

A tulip, known as "the Viceroy" (viseroij), displayed in the 1637 Dutch catalog Verzameling van een Meenigte Tulipaanen. Its bulb was offered for sale between 3,000 and 4,200 guilders (florins) depending on size (aase). A skilled craftsworker at the time earned about 300 guilders a year.

Anonymous 17th-century watercolor of the Semper Augustus, famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during tulip mania.
Tulip mania  was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble; although some researchers have noted that the Kipper und Wipper (literally "Tipper and See-Saw") episode in 1619–1622, a Europe-wide chain of debasement of the metal content of coins to fund warfare, featured mania-like similarities to a bubble. In many ways, the tulip mania was more of a hitherto unknown socio-economic phenomenon than a significant economic crisis. Historically, it had no critical influence on the prosperity of the Dutch Republic, the world's leading economic and financial power in the 17th century. Also, from about 1600 to 1720 the Dutch had the highest per capita income in the world. The term "tulip mania" is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values.

In Europe, formal futures markets appeared in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century. Among the most notable centered on the tulip market, at the height of tulip mania. At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsworker. Research is difficult because of the limited economic data from the 1630s, much of which come from biased and speculative sources. Some modern economists have proposed rational explanations, rather than a speculative mania, for the rise and fall in prices. For example, other flowers, such as the hyacinth, also had high initial prices at the time of their introduction, which immediately fell. The high asset prices may also have been driven by expectations of a parliamentary decree that contracts could be voided for a small cost, thus lowering the risk to buyers.
A standardized price index for tulip bulb contracts, created by Earl Thompson. Thompson had no price data between February 9 and May 1, thus the shape of the decline is unknown. The tulip market is known to have collapsed abruptly in February.

The 1637 event was popularized in 1841 by the book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, written by British journalist Charles Mackay. At one point 12 acres (5 ha) of land were offered for a Semper Augustus bulb. Mackay claims that many such investors were ruined by the fall in prices, and Dutch commerce suffered a severe shock. Although Mackay's book is a classic, his account is contested. Many modern scholars feel that the mania was not as extraordinary as Mackay described and argue that not enough price data are available to prove that a tulip-bulb bubble actually occurred.

Friday 28 December 2018

Keira Knightley Interview / Colette review / /VIDEO:Colette Official Trailer

Colette review – Keira Knightley is on top form in exhilarating literary biopic
4 / 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars.    
The life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette makes for fascinating drama in a nuanced and inspiring film with a luminous central performance

Jordan Hoffman
Mon 22 Jan 2018 01.21 GMT Last modified on Mon 12 Nov 2018 16.34 GMT

No, not another biopic about a writer! Ugh, Keira Knightley’s in a corset again! Get all of that out of your system now because I’m here to tell you that Wash Westmoreland’s Colette is exhilarating, funny, inspiring and (remember: corsets!) gorgeous, too.

The first third of this story is pretty traditional. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Knightley) is a country girl waiting to get whisked away into marriage by the worldly literary “entrepreneur” known simply as Willy (Dominic West). When the new bride is presented at the salons, Parisian gossips are stunned. The notorious libertine Willy is to settle down?

While his admiration of his new bride is sincere, his desires are not entirely stunted. But Colette (as she is not yet known) doesn’t exactly sit idly when she learns of his infidelity. She demands honesty in their marriage and, for a time, she gets it. She also saves the family’s finances when her book that Willy initially rejected for publication is reworked, branded “a Willy novel” and becomes the talk of all Paris.

Much of what makes this film so fascinating is the not-quite-villain-but-certainly-not-hero role Willy plays. It’s a very juicy role for Dominic West, and undoubtedly the best film performance he’s ever given. (I’ve never in my life seen a man look dashing even while flatulating.) The obvious read is that Willy exploited Colette in ways bordering on cruelty. (He even locks her in a room and shouts “write!” when her initial Claudine novel demands a follow-up.) Westmoreland’s film doesn’t exactly excuse him, but does offer context about his contributions to Colette’s initial success as well as a realistic portrayal of how women writers were perceived at the time.

That doesn’t make it any easier for Colette as her husband steals all her glory. Luckily, they each have activities that keep them busy – for a stretch, the activity is sleeping with the same woman. Willy encourages Colette to link up with a bored Louisiana millionaire, but he doesn’t tell her that he’s visiting her apartment on alternating days.

This leads to a kind of understanding, or at least a delay for the inevitable reckoning. Willy’s indulgences lead to a depletion of funds, but what ultimately bankrupts him is producing a play featuring Colette and her new lover (the transgender pioneer “Missy”, the Marquise de Belbeuf). This failure forces Willy to sell the rights to the extremely popular Claudine character, and kickstarts Colette’s career as a vaudevillian.

There’s no shortage of domestic drama (and Knightley and West do fine work with the sharp screenplay Westmoreland co-wrote with Richard Glatzer and Rebecca Lenkiewicz) but the delay in building to a final knockout row is something of a revelation. We so often look to the lives of artists for meaning, but when dramatized they regularly end up being just another bit of soap opera. Colette’s life is deserving of nuance and care, and that’s what she gets in this film.

Keira Knightley: 'I can’t act the flirt or mother to get my voice heard. It makes me feel sick'
Catherine Shoard
The star of Colette on Harvey Weinstein, Disney princesses and why her visceral essay about childbirth and the Duchess of Cambridge hit a nerve

Catherine Shoard  @catherineshoard
Fri 28 Dec 2018 07.00 GMT Last modified on Fri 28 Dec 2018 11.56 GMT

When Keira Knightley was small there were two things she knew she would become. First, an actor. That worked out. She got an agent at six; was in Star Wars at 13 and Pirates of the Caribbean at 17; won an Oscar nomination for Pride and Prejudice at 20 and another, 10 years later, for The Imitation Game. Second, a man. That’s still a work in progress.

“I remember everything about that feeling,” she says, now 33, folded up on a sofa in a London hotel. A big blue frock juts out from under her like a nest. “That girls grew into men, and that’s what I was going to be.” Toddler logic, she admits; goodness knows what boys became. “Maybe it was that the girls were the most powerful in the playground. They were in charge and, obviously, the men were in charge outside. So clearly that’s where I was going. Only, of course it wasn’t.”

Knightley scrunches her face: a chipmunk photobombing a supermodel. Still, she was a grade-A tomboy: no skirts, leading a protest at school until girls were allowed to play football. At 11, she was “obsessed by The Godfather. I wanted to be Al Pacino and that’s where I was heading. The great parts are the guys’ parts. You don’t want to be the pretty girl in the corner or the mum being lovable and supportive. Of course, when you grow up you are, but you still want to have the adventures.”

Knightley’s entire career, from ball-busting breakthrough in Bend it Like Beckham to cross-dressing, trans-romancing Colette in her new film, has been an attempt to have adventures her younger self would respect. To explore if not what it would be like to be a man, then certainly “the masculine side of the female, stuck in the dresses and makeup. Almost every character I’ve played has tried to break out of that image of femininity. That’s why I like period films, because it’s such an overt cage you put the woman in. That’s always something I’ve really identified with. I feel like I sit somewhere else.”

I look quizzical. “I’ve never wanted a penis,” she clarifies. “Apart from to piss up a tree. Being able to do that standing up: so convenient. You can just whip it out and whatever. But the idea of something so vulnerable swinging between my legs, I think I’m all right without.”

Generally, it can be tricky encouraging stars away from unpacking art to chatting genitals. With Knightley, it’s like turning on a tap. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone simultaneously so famous and so garrulous (she’s also bracingly sweary). Or perhaps it’s something only those who have been A-listers more than half their life already can get away with.

A few days after we meet, Knightley appears on Ellen DeGeneres’s chatshow to promote The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and mentions she has banned her young daughter, Edie (with husband James Righton, frontman of the new-rave band Klaxons), from watching the Disney classics Cinderella and A Little Mermaid because of their dodgy feminist messages. Twitter entered white-heat mode. Thinkpieces were spewed out like ticker tape. Presumably Disney – which also made The Nutcracker, which has since flopped – weren’t thrilled. But when asked about it again a fortnight later, instead of calming the waters, she went in with a whisk: doubling down on her argument with some PhD-level Disney princess knowledge.

Still, she says in December when we speak again on the phone, being up for a fight doesn’t mean you want a punch. “I thought I was just being perky in an interview. My God, people feel really strongly. Don’t fuck with Cinderella. Her fans will end you.”

Anyway, back to Colette. It’s the latest film from Wash Westmoreland, who made Still Alice with his husband, Richard Glatzer, before the latter died of ALS (also known as motor neurone disease) a fortnight after Julianne Moore’s Oscar win for lead actress. They co-wrote this one, too, and it’s clearly the work of a couple: intimate, barbed and funny. The plot revolves around Colette and her literary entrepreneur husband Willy (Dominic West), who pass off her novels as his, until Colette starts resenting the fiction, and Willy’s hypocritical jealousy over her affairs with a Louisiana heiress (Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson) and a gender-fluid aristocrat (Denise Gough) who never removes her suit. By and large, men fare badly. But Willy is, like Colette, finely drawn, charming for all his ludicrosity. In one scene, he wins his wife back by explaining that men are the weaker sex, slaves to their biology, ergo his endless shagging.

 “The Weaker Sex” is also the withering title of an essay Knightley wrote for a collection called Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies, published in October. At the time, it caused a stink for what some perceived as an attack on the Duchess of Cambridge for looking glam hours after the birth of her daughter. Was she surprised? “The whole essay was about the silencing of women’s experience. So it’s interesting that’s exactly what happened from certain media outlets. They turned a moment of empathy from one body to another around to say: she’s shaming her.”

Yet women seemed just as mean as men. “Yeah, that’s interesting. Internalised misogyny? I’m not criticising that. All of us respond to and survive within the culture in the way that we can. But I think we need to have a big look at ourselves.”

Indeed. The duchess section is actually the blandest part of a blazing manifesto that starts with Knightley’s vagina splitting, swiftly brings in blood, poo, cracked nipples and incontinence pads, then closes with a broadside against male colleagues:

 “They tell me what it is to be a woman. Be nice, be supportive, be pretty but not too pretty, be thin but not too thin, be sexy but not too sexy, be successful but not too successful. … But I don’t want to flirt and mother them, flirt and mother, flirt and mother. I don’t want to flirt with you because I don’t want to fuck you, and I don’t want to mother you because I am not your mother. … I just want to work, mate. Is that OK? Talk and be heard, be talked to and listen. Male ego. Stop getting in the way.”

The essay, says Knightley, was “just sort of vomited out”, submitted in a “fuck it” moment, published “because we have to harness this moment in time and use our voices to keep the conversation going. Because we’re saddled with a system built on inequality,” she says, “progress is going to be slow and painful and uncomfortable. But I want to make sure I’m not raising my daughter in fear of the whole other half of the human race. Just as it’s important to raise boys seeing the whole of a woman’s experience, not simply one aspect of femininity. Otherwise, how can you respect it?”

The core problem, she reckons, is that the voices of a generation of women are lost to childcare. This means – to bring it back to straying Willy – that “we all empathise with men hugely because, culturally, their experience is so explored. We know so many aspects of even male sexuality. But we don’t feel like men can say: ‘Yes, I understand what you’re talking about because I’ve got this wealth of art and film and theatre and TV from your point of view.’”

So if women don’t come on flirty or maternal, she thinks, some men get stumped. “Before motherhood, you’re sexy, but if we talk about the whole vagina-splitting thing then that’s terrifying; there’s no sex there, so what we do is go into the virgin-mother retrofit, that’s nice and safe. The problem with those two images is I think very few women actually identify with them. Women are meant to play the flirt or the mother in order to get their voice heard. I can’t. It makes me feel sick.””

On set, she was informed by a male director – not Westmoreland – exactly what she was: not passive-aggressive, but openly aggressive. Her eyes pop recalling the shock. “I thought that was extraordinary. I hadn’t raised my voice, I hadn’t sworn, I simply disagreed with a point. And this was someone I liked.”

Look back over Knightley’s previous press and what sticks out – more, even, than her habit of irritating people by dint of crimes including her looks and niceness – is her composure. She has always seemed poised, someone of conviction and confidence, if not arrogance. Bumblings have been low-key; she has kept it together.

Not without effort, it turns out. Earlier this year, she told the Hollywood Reporter that she had had a breakdown aged 22, following five years of endless exposure. She didn’t leave the house for three months. A therapist said she was her first client who wasn’t being paranoid when she worried about people following her. She needed hypnotherapy to feel able to walk the Baftas red carpet for Atonement in 2007.

She switched focus: a year off, then smaller, odder films with more difficult heroines – The Edge of Love, Never Let Me Go, A Dangerous Method. She upped the robustness of her engagement with the press, suing the Daily Mail after it implied she was a poster girl for anorexia. Today, she credits that crisis with being able to handle the first few months of motherhood. “Your body just created life and now it’s shifting in order to feed it. That’s monumental and we’re all expected to go: ‘Oh no, all good, I’m groovy – I haven’t slept, I’m fine. That I’m able to forgive myself for not being brilliant [as a parent] every fucking day is probably because of that breakdown.”

And that is another reason why marginalising women once they have had children is dangerous, she says, if not warming to her theme (she never really strays from it) then expanding her thesis. It means this sort of experience is sanitised and so those struggling feel even worse. She read recently that 50% of new mothers have mental health difficulties. “With children, it’s one in 10 and that’s called a crisis. So what’s one in two? That’s a fucking catastrophe.

 How, as a society, are we not supporting single mothers 100%? We should literally be wrapping them in cotton wool and giving them a cuddle
“We have to talk about it so we know we haven’t failed. It’s really difficult for me, who has an unbelievably supportive family and the money to pay for good childcare. How, as a society, are we not supporting single mothers 100%? We should literally be wrapping them in cotton wool and giving them a cuddle. Saying absolutely we will help [them] as much as we possibly can. That we’re not seems insane.”

The other reason Knightley speaks her mind is it would never occur to her not to. The perception is that she hails from high privilege. But her schooling was bog-standard; her parents – playwright Sharman Macdonald and actor Will Knightley – thespy, but also relatively radical leftwing types. Not quite hippies, says Knightley, but as close as Teddington in south-west London probably got. She says she hadn’t realised how lucky she was to be raised by a father who loved the fact his wife often earned more than he did.

In the film she is currently shooting, Misbehaviour, she plays Sally Alexander, a women’s libber among those who invaded the stage at Miss World 1970 with football rattles and flour bombs. Watch footage of the real Alexander today and you could be watching an older Knightley. These are her people: arty but determined, polite but forthright.

And that, perhaps, is why Knightley’s pronouncements don’t – for me at least – stick in the throat. So much political rhetoric trotted out by film stars smacks of the bandwagon: rote homilies, recited without too much consideration.

Knightley sings from a more sophisticated hymn sheet. Take Miss World. Plainly, she’s not a fan: “I’d never seen a beauty competition before but you think, wow this is really out there! The way they turn their arses and the cameras panning up and down. The way society as a whole goes: ‘Oh no, this is fine.’”

But while the actions of Alexander et al were “amazingly brave”, she’s not sure she would have done the same, because the contestants felt they were being attacked. “That was unfair. And having been on stage, if something like that happened it would be utterly terrifying.”

She is even measured when I asked about Harvey Weinstein, giving “credit where credit’s due; he was very good at getting independent cinema an audience”. They had most contact around the time of The Imitation Game, when she wasn’t remotely in need of patronage, and pregnant – both reasons he didn’t try it on, she thinks. “And maybe he just didn’t fancy me, could be as simple as that.”

She swears ignorance over his alleged assaults. “I absolutely knew he was a womaniser, because you could see it. But I thought that was consensual, and I’d never heard he’d raped anybody. Everyone knew he was a bully because he would scream and shout. But it wasn’t obvious he was doing what he was doing with the bathrobe and the massage and the pot plant. The pot plant!”

It is rare that Weinstein is discussed by anyone with clear eyes and a not totally po-face. Does she worry the debate triggered by the revelations about his alleged behaviour is misandrist? “Absolutely. There’s a time [women] should be standing up and howling and making as much noise as possible, saying: ‘Hey, this system doesn’t work for one half of us.’ But that it makes it very difficult for men to speak and I think there may be some things we don’t want to hear.”

Such as? “About their sexuality, how they see us, exactly what they want. It’s a really tricky discussion but I don’t know how we move forward without engaging men. And you can’t hate them if you’re trying to do that.” A pause, another grimace: scepticism made flesh. “Also: they’re nice. I know some really lovely ones.”

• Colette is released on 12 January.

Thursday 27 December 2018

The ABC Murders review / VIDEO:John Malkovich is Poirot in tense new Agatha Christie adaptation | Trail...

The ABC Murders review – John Malkovich’s suffering Poirot is magnificent
4 / 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars.    
Scorned by the police and nursing a secret pain, the latent violence in Malkovich’s performance is as potent as ever

Lucy Mangan
Wed 26 Dec 2018 22.00 GMT

My husband and I married across many divides – class, political, minimal personal hygiene levels – but nothing separates us so firmly as our attitudes to Poirot. And by Poirot I mean the bespoke-padded, neatly-pomaded form of David Suchet, who dominated the Christie cultural landscape for a quarter of a century. From the moment he smoothed down his moustache and sallied primly forth as the Belgian detective in 1989 in the first of what would become 70 episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, to devote himself to the solving of mysteries in Art Deco properties across the land, he simply was Hercule. There could be no other. Nor – for lo, these last five years since the series ended – has anyone on TV dared to try.

I did understand that it was A Quality Affair but I just couldn’t bear it. The mannered carefulness. The determined retention of the worst aspect of Christie – the constant feeling of cipher-characters being moved into place by an all-knowing hand, like chess pieces with Marcel waves and costume jewellery. My husband, by way of relations-severing contrast, loves it for precisely this.

Those of you who side with him – who hunt out repeats of The Murder Next to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Fireguard or The Mystery of the Missing Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph – should look away now. For last night’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 13th Poirot novel, The ABC Murders, was for the rest of us; for those who like their Christie underbelly-up and a nail raked down its pale, fetid flesh. It is Christmas, after all.

As it has been for the last few yuletides, this new adaptation has been gifted us by Sarah Phelps (in a few more years I’m going to be able to relax and consider it an unbreakable BBC tradition). This year, an extra-special treasure lies inside, in the form of John Malkovich as Poirot. Of course there has been much disapproving muttering, especially in the village of Much Muttering which I think is where most of the Marple murders take place. But he is quite magnificent as a suffering Hercule, beset by flashbacks to what seems to be his younger self during the invasion of Belgium and letters from someone signing himself “ABC” and promising mayhem. He is not prim but careful, watchful – of others and perhaps even himself, as although Poirot’s glory days have passed (he even dyes his facial hair), the latent violence in this Malkovich performance is as potent as ever.

The police and public now hold Poirot in contempt. An Inspector Crone has replaced the retired – and by the end of the first act, late – Inspector Japp (death by natural causes, I should note). He tells Poirot that Japp was removed from the force when they couldn’t find any record of Poirot being a detective in Belgium as he claimed. “People don’t like their police being made to look like fools,” he says. It is a neat, credible and timely demonstration of how an immigrant friend (“19 years I have lived here,” he says at one point) can be reconceived as an enemy.

Meanwhile, ABC – Alexander Bonaparte Cust (Eamon Farren) – is making himself as comfortable as possible in his unlovely lodgings overseen by his even more unlovely landlady (Shirley Henderson), who pimps out her daughter at a shilling a time “for ordinary”. He commits his first murder, posing as a stockings salesman to gain access to the women he needs, in Andover. Forewarned by a letter, Poirot attempts to warn the police. They ignore him, so he finds the body himself, then proves that their main suspect couldn’t have done it. This is not the way to a chippy inspector’s heart.

The letter about the second murder arrives on the day it is carried out – on bonny, boozy Betty Barnard, who is also a weapons-grade bitch who stole her sister’s boyfriend and chose very much the wrong man to sexually humiliate when he was in Bexhill looking for someone alliterative to kill.

In one of the less petty moments of humiliation endured by our ageing hero, Crone orders his house to be searched for evidence he claims Poirot has been holding back about the crimes. The letters from ABC are still coming. The latest is from Cricklewood, where Sir Carmichael Clarke is being distracted by his secretary instead of tending to his dying wife. Cowardly cad. On her bedside table, Lady Clarke has a photograph of herself and Poirot at dinner. The credits roll, and you haven’t sensed that hovering hand for a moment. Here, the chess pieces live and breathe, and we believe.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

British Style Genius By Royal Appointment The Country Look / Part 4 of 5 28th October 2008

By Royal Appointment The Country Look

British Style Genius Episode 4 of 5

The British may not have a national costume but if they did it would be the country look: tweeds, tartans and florals, and timeless classics like the trench coat and waxed jacket. From Burberry to Barbour, it's no accident that a country obsessed with the weather has become a market leader in clothes designed to repel the wind and rain.
Although styled not for fashion but practicality, the look has nonetheless been endlessly appealing to designers like Christopher Bailey who, backstage at the Milan fashion show, demonstrates how he has reinvented the trench coat. In London, Luella Bartley walks us through her collection of floral print dresses, a modern take on Laura Ashley, and rock star Eric Clapton illustrates why the cut of a country jacket is more about purpose than style.
The most famous fan of country attire has been the Queen and it is her 'at leisure' look of tartans and headscarves that is now providing the inspiration for Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana. It is perhaps no surprise that that these comforting and practical clothes, the embodiment of tradition, protectiveness and durability, are back in fashion as the ill winds of recession blow.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Remembering: "Churchill’s real-life tailor designs bespoke suits for Wright’s war drama, the Darkest Hour"/ Darkest Hour Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Churchill’s real-life tailor designs bespoke suits for Wright’s war drama, the Darkest Hour
January 8, 2018 Posted In: Uncategorized

British biographical war drama, the Darkest Hour, is set to be released in the UK in January. The thrilling plot follows Winston Churchill’s early days as Prime Minister, as Hitler closes in on Britain during World War II.

 Director Joe Wright and costume designer Jacqueline Durran have expressed a meticulous eye for historical details, particularly with regards to costume.

 The real-life tailor to Winston Churchill, Henry Poole & Co, is honoured to have been entrusted with creating suits for Gary Oldman and Ben Mendelsohn, who play Churchill and King George VI respectively.

 Oldman wears a dark grey chalk stripe suit and what might be described as a “lounge morning suit”, whilst Mendelsohn wears a double-breasted lounge suit in mid blue worsted and a royal Naval undress uniform as an Admiral of the Fleet.

 Just as the former Prime Minister had regular fittings at Henry Poole & Co, his on-stage character, Oldman also came to be fitted at the historic tailor’s Savile Row premises.

 The cloths used are exclusively sourced in Britain and Oldman’s and Mendelsohn’s bespoke attire, cut in the period correct manner.

 Sir Winston Churchill and Henry Poole & Co.

 Britain’s greatest 20th century Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was a customer of Henry Poole & Co from 1903 until the outbreak of the Second World War. He was introduced to the house by his father Sir Randolph Churchill and in addition to ordering civilian suits, Poole’s tailored ceremonial attire for his various appointments including Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Privy Councillor, President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Elder Brother of Trinity House.

 In 2007 Poole’s invited Fox Brothers Ltd to weave a grey chalk stripe flannel. The inspiration for this cloth came from an image of Sir Winston Churchill wearing his Henry Poole grey chalk stripe suit holding a Thompson submachine gun. This cloth, exclusive to Henry Poole, is fondly named The Churchill.

Friday 21 December 2018

Two Great coffee table books / Great Houses of London - by James Stourton (Author), Fritz von der Schulenburg (Photographer) / Great Houses of Scotland - by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd (Author), Christopher Simon Sykes (Photographer)

Great Houses of London
by James Stourton  (Author), Fritz von der Schulenburg (Photographer)
The great houses of London represent one of the marvels of English architecture and yet they are almost entirely unknown. They are for the most part disguised behind sober facades but their riches within are astonishing.
There are many architectural wonders, among them Robert Adam’s 20 St James’s Square and William Burges’s Tower House. Several – including Bridgewater House with its Raphaels and Titians – have held great art collections.
These are houses that hold extraordinary stories: half the Cabinet resigned after breakfast at Stratford House; and on 4 August 1914, at 9 Carlton House Terrace, then the German Embassy, young duty clerk Harold Nicholson deftly substituted one declaration of war for another.
Great Houses of London opens the door to some of the greatest and grandest houses in the world to tell the stories of their owners and occupants, artists and architects, their restoration, adaptation and change.

 Book Review: Great Houses Of London
 M@ BY M@

We get sent all kinds of tomes about the capital, from tourist guides to scholarly dissertations. What we've never received before is a 2.5 kg wrist-snapper of a book, with a colossal naked Napoleon on the front cover.

The lewd emperor is the centrepiece of Apsley House, former home of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner. It is but one of 41 superior dwellings set out by James Stourton in this most weighty of books. 330 larger-than-A4 pages take the reader on a chronological and sumptuously illustrated journey, from the medieval Lambeth Palace up to Modernist houses and the home of Richard and Ruth Rogers. Some are world famous (10 Downing Street), but many will be unknown, even to those living a few roads away.

The author provides just the right amount of detail for each house: a little about the colourful poshsters who dwelt within; a few paragraphs concerning the architecture and furnishing; and the sometimes unusual changes of purpose each property has undergone. Stourton, Chairman of Sotheby's and an old hand at discussing the playthings of the rich, occasionally wanders into his own descriptions, giving personal insights into a great house. This first-person tone is unusual in such a book, and sets it apart from, say, an English Heritage guide. The photography, by Fritz von der Schulenburg, also deserves commendation for bringing out the detail in some diverse and unusual spaces.

The book is also full of splendid historical nuggets (and, here, we're not talking about Napoleon's nethers). Did you know that the beige colour on all the buildings surrounding Regent's Park is a relatively recent introduction? Or that Nazi soldiers once marched down the Mall carrying a Swastika-draped coffin, that of the late German ambassador whose former residence retains an Albert Speer staircase? If Led Zep guitarist Jimmy Page ever invites you round to his mad, medieval medley of a house, you say YES!.

As coffe table books go, this is a surprisingly entertaining read. You just might need to invest in a sturdier coffee table.

Great Houses of Scotland 
by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd  (Author), Christopher Simon Sykes  (Photographer)

'The Great Houses' featured in this book reveal Scots architecture in its grandest forms. The specially commissioned photographs by Christopher Simon Sykes include stunning close-ups of architectural details and objects, and capture the spirit and style of the houses while Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd's refreshingly personal and informal text is as much about the families, who in many cases still live in these fascinating places, as about the architecture and decoration. This work carries a personal selection of twenty-six houses that reflect the development of style in Scotland, from old tower houses such as Cawdor through Baroque masterpieces like Drumlanrig and the pioneering Classicism of Kinross right up to the Edwardian opulence of Manderston and Ardkinglas.

Friday 14 December 2018

David Hicks

My greatest contribution as an interior designer has been to show people how to use bold color mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms, and how to mix old with new.
— David Hicks in "David Hicks on Living—with Taste" (1968)

He married Lady Pamela Mountbatten (born 19 April 1929), the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma by his wife, the former Edwina Ashley.
David and Pamela Hicks were married on 13 January 1960 at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. They had three children:
Edwina Victoria Louise Hicks (born 24 December 1961)
Ashley Hicks (born 18 July 1963)
India Amanda Caroline Hicks (born 5 September 1967)

David Nightingale Hicks was born at Coggeshall, Essex, the son of stockbroker Herbert Hicks and Iris Elsie (née Platten). He attended Charterhouse School and graduated from the Central School of Arts and Crafts.
After a brief period of National Service in the British army, Hicks began work drawing cereal boxes for J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency. His career as designer-decorator was launched to media-acclaim in 1954 when the British magazine House & Garden featured the London house he decorated (at 22 South Eaton Place) for his mother and himself.

An early introduction by Fiona Lonsdale, wife of banker Norman Lonsdale, to Peter Evans initiated business partnership in London as the pair, now joined by architect Patrick Garnett, set about designing, building and decorating a restaurant chain (Peter Evans Eating Houses) in London's "hotspots", such as Chelsea and Soho.

Evans said of Hicks:

"[He] was without a doubt a genius. He would walk into the most shambolic of spaces that I had decided would be a restaurant, a pub or a nightclub and, lighting up a cigarette, would be out of the place within ten minutes, having decided what atmosphere it would generate because of what it would look like. He always got it spot on.”

Hicks and the architectural practice Garnett Cloughley Blakemore (GCB) collaborated on a series of private commissions, including a house on Park Lane for Lord and Lady Londonderry and an apartment for Hicks's brother-in-law, film producer Lord Brabourne. The firm also worked on a new house in London for Hicks's father-in-law, Earl Mountbatten. GBC achieved international recognition when it refurbished the George V Hotel in Paris for the Trust House Forte group. Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film A Clockwork Orange featured GCB's Chelsea Drugstore.

Hicks's early clients mixed aristocracy, media and fashion. He did projects for Vidal Sassoon, Helena Rubinstein, Violet Manners (who became the Duchess of Rutland), Mrs. Condé Nast and Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.[2] He made carpets for Windsor Castle and decorated the Prince of Wales's first apartment at Buckingham Palace. Hicks started to design patterned carpets and fabrics when he found none on the market that he considered good enough. These and his hyper-dynamic colour sense formed the basis of a style which was much admired and copied. In 1967, Hicks began working in the USA, designing apartments in Manhattan for an international clientele, and at the same time promoting his carpet and fabric collections. Hicks also designed sets for Richard Lester's 1968 movie Petulia, starring Julie Christie.

In the 1970s/80s Hicks shops opened in fifteen countries around the world. He designed, for example, guestrooms at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo, the public rooms of the British Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo, with only mixed success, and the yacht of the King of Saudi Arabia. Hicks was a talented photographer, painter and sculptor and produced fashion and jewelry collections. He designed the interior of a BMW and scarlet-heeled men's evening shoes.

He wrote, in one of his nine practical design books, David Hicks on Living — With Taste,[10] that his "greatest contribution... has been to show people how to use bold color (sic) mixtures, how to use patterned carpets, how to light rooms and how to mix old with new."

Some of Hicks's later work may be seen at Belle Isle, Fermanagh, where the Duke of Abercorn hired him to redecorate the interior of the castle in the 1990s. Hicks decorated the duke's main house, Baronscourt, in the 1970s.

Obituary: David Hicks
Nicholas Haslam
Thursday 2 April 1998 00:02
The Independent

DAVID HICKS was perhaps the "Dyvid Byley" of interior designers: the only exponent of that profession the man in the street might be able to put a name to. For nearly 40 years Hicks has been a household word - to many a household god - and his style a touchstone of good, mad, but never indifferent, taste.

His many books - the first, David Hicks on Decoration, published in 1966 - have been inexhaustible quarries of ideas and inspiration to the following generations of designers. His later work, with its massive overscaling and deceptive simplicity greatly influenced by his hero Sir John Soane - with frequent chapeaux to Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor - became the classical trademark by which he will be best remembered, but it was his early decors, so violently heathen to the cretonned hearths of post-Festival Britain that brought him instant recognition, a well-observed and edited transatlantic- stroke-French chic that propelled him up ladders so fast his "international fun-folk bobble shoes", as his contemporary Dominic Elwes noted, hardly touched the rungs.

That, and of course, his looks. Son of a distinguished but decidedly elderly Essex stockbroker - that his grandfather lived in the reign of George III enormously endeared David to his future father-in-law, that monarch's great-great-great-grandson Earl Mountbatten of Burma - and an intelligent and sensitive mother whose culinary skills were to be a boon to David's early bachelor life, he was born in 1929 and christened David Nightingale - perhaps the closest he ever came to natural modesty: he was probably correct in claiming that he alone had invented the profession of interior designer - as opposed to mere decorator.

He was educated at an unloved Charterhouse, followed by a hated but then obligatory stint in the Army ("smelly young men my own age") which determined him to be his own master, and he enrolled in the Central School of Art and Design in London. This led to contact with advertising agencies and photographers such as Terence Donovan, for whom he would frequently "and brilliantly" decorate sets.

At the same time he acquired the first of what was to be a series of ravishing country houses, the Temple at Stoke-by-Nayland in Essex, which he had often bicycled past as a child. Here he created his first decors, devised his first garden (the long dark canal before the Temple's facade would feature frequently in his own and clients' landscapes), gave his first parties, invited his first friends - one of whom remembers, "I'd put a slice of lemon in the gin and tonic. David was aghast. 'What do you think this is? A restaurant?' " Other friends were mainly of the more sophisticated world, headed by Bunny Roger, Arthur Jeffress, Barry Sainsbury and those veteran, inveterate matchmakers Chips Channon and Peter Coats.

In Hicks's incandescent glamour and vaunting talent, they saw vast potential. Some dazzling union must be achieved: a marriage of patrician wealth and raw ambition. It was. In 1958, joined by the equally brilliant young decorator Tom Parr (who went on to head Colefax and Fowler), Hicks and Parr opened in London on Lowndes Place, off Belgrave Square. No one who was there that first evening will forget the 27 metal African lances hung exactly five-and-a-half inches apart, horizontally, on one wall, or a thousand watts lighting, in relief, a vast baroque torso. The spare sparse energy, the space, the scale, were literally breathtaking. The David Hicks style had truly arrived.

So much so, indeed, that he moved into 22 South Eaton Place, where he and his mother would entertain - David's fantasies, her food. The decor became the cynosure of eyes. Carpets and curtains were banished. Books must be bound all white. Monotones prevailed - as Vere French confessed, "When Hicks and Parr said beige, who was I to lag behind?" The ultra-modern art hung frameless, the white flowers in lit glass tanks. Baths and beds bestrode the middle of rooms, David's pugs could only eat off Chinese blue and white. It was all very surprising.

But David Hicks could always surprise. In 1960, the announcement of his grand marriage to Lady Pamela Mountbatten amazed all but a very few. "Oh I don't call that grand," his friend Tony Armstrong-Jones remarked. (Five months and a title later revealed why.)

Henceforward Hicks's clients and life style took an acutely upward turn, the former providing the latter - a couple of beautiful 18th-century houses, one in St Leonard's Terrace in Chelsea, the other the near-stately Britwell in Oxfordshire, which his wife ran with exquisite grace and tact. Hicks joined the squirearchy, rode, learnt to shoot (extremely well) and allowed his never-over-repressed ego to blossom ("I'm very famous and clever and I'm married to a very rich lady") as well as bourgeoisie-teasing pronouncements: "Red and yellow dogs are fearfully common" (red was later applied to cattle with equal rigidity), "Daffodils are hideous"; and I remember a postcard from "the Rainforests. Another of God's mistakes" - an almost Firbankian comment.

Concurrently his fame and influence spread world-wide, his influence and hauteur making him a kind of interior dictator. One besotted client on the Iberian peninsula kept Hicks's room "as he left it" and would allow friends to glimpse the grail through a barely opened door. But clients became friends, always - Hicks's immense knowledge, enthusiasm and humour saw to that. He frequently invited Elaine Sassoon, who, when married to Vidal, had been among the first, and the intensely private Nico Londonderry Fame was a lifelong confidante. His talent for friendships echoed his temperament. His standards were high, he hated many things and people, but once in his pantheon he would never ever let them down. Hicks was too worldly to be cruel.

He was let down, himself, however, by a disastrous business liaison which wreaked unaccustomed havoc. Hicks, with his reserve of courage and that irrepressible ego, retrenched and reorganised, building and decorating in many countries, but concentrating now on garden design, at which he was perhaps even more talented and original. The best example of his new- found genius is his own garden at the Grove, the lovely house in a fold of the valley below Britwell, where Pamela and he lived their elegant, harmonious, rock-and-royalty life for the past 20 years.

Here he could indulge in forcing nature into the linear and geometric patterns he so loved to use indoors, and devise elaborate humours - a trompe church steeple was attached to a hay-cart so that he could instantly terminate a distant view. And it was here, his handsome family around him, that David Hicks left, in tranquillity, the life he had so exuberantly adorned.

David Nightingale Hicks, interior decorator and garden designer: born Coggeshall, Essex 25 March 1929; director, David Hicks Ltd 1960-98; married 1960 Lady Pamela Mountbatten (one son, two daughters); died Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire 29 March 1998.

Taste is not something you are born with, nor is it anything to do with your social background. It is worth remembering that practically anyone of significance in the world of the arts, whether in the past or today, was nobody to start with. Nobody has ever heard of Handel's or Gainsborough's father.

My passion for arranging masses of things together is part of the way I see objects and use them. It not only looks mean, but is visually meaningless, to have one bottle of gin, one of whisky, a couple of tonic water and a soda syphon on a table in the living-room, even though that might be perfectly adequate for the needs of one evening's entertainment.

It is perhaps I who have made tablescapes - objects arranged as landscapes on a horizontal surface - into an art form; indeed, I invented the word . . . What is important is not how valuable or inexpensive your objects are, but the care and feeling with which you arrange them. I once bought six inexpensive tin mugs in Ireland and arranged them on a chimneypiece to create an interesting effect in a room which otherwise lacked objects. They stood there in simple perfection.

I dislike brightly coloured front doors - they are more stylish painted white, black or other dark colours. I hate wrought iron. I loathe colour used on modern buildings - it should be inside. I do not like conventional standard lamps - I prefer functional floor-standing reading lights. Function is just as important as aesthetics . . . Function dictates design.

From David Hicks, Living with Design, Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1979

Thursday 13 December 2018

Lady Pamela Hicks / VIDEO:Interview with Lady Pamela Hicks Mountbatten - Edit 1

Lady Pamela Carmen Louise Hicks (née Mountbatten; born 19 April 1929) is a British aristocrat. She is the younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma by his wife, Edwina Mountbatten. Through her father, Lady Pamela is a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and a great niece of the last Empress of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna. She is the last surviving child of Louis and Edwina Mountbatten.
Lady Pamela is the widow of interior decorator and designer David Nightingale Hicks (25 March 1929 – 29 March 1998), son of stockbroker Herbert Hicks and Iris Elsie Platten. They were married on 13 January 1960 at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire. The bridesmaids were Princess Anne, Princess Clarissa of Hesse (daughter of her cousin Sophie), Victoria Marten (god-daughter of the bride), Lady Amanda Knatchbull and the Hon. Joanna Knatchbull (daughters of the bride's sister Patricia). Upon returning from honeymoon in the West Indies and New York, Lady Pamela learnt of the death of her mother in February 1960.

Lady Pamela Hicks on the real story behind Viceroy's House
Susan Springate
25 FEBRUARY 2017 • 8:00AM

Ensconced in the sitting room of her splendid Georgian home, Lady Pamela Hicks is recalling a recent visit from Hugh Bonneville. The actor is playing her father Lord Mountbatten in the the forthcoming film Viceroy’s House, which depicts the finals months of British rule in India.

“I took him secretly into the study as I wanted to see his salute,” she says. “Another actor, who played my father years ago, was a terrible slouch – but Hugh held himself beautifully.

“He didn’t look like my father of course,” she adds. “He was chosen because of the success of Downton Abbey.”

Lady Pamela, now 87, was 17 when her father was entrusted with overseeing the transfer of power to an independent India in 1947. 

 Lady Pamela Hicks at home in Piccadilly
Lady Pamela Hicks at home in Piccadilly CREDIT: JEFF GILBERT
She was used to privilege: her mother, Edwina, was a glamorous heiress and her father, “Dickie”, a third cousin to the Queen and Prince Philip’s uncle. Nothing however, could have prepared her for the extravagance of life at Viceroy’s House in Delhi. With 340 rooms, marble walls and 12 indoor courtyards, the Lutyens masterpiece had come to symbolise the splendour of the Raj.

Seeing it recreated on the big screen – 70 years to the month since her her parents were sworn in as the new Viceroy and Vicereine on ornate thrones – was, says Lady Pamela, enormously enjoyable. Although she admits to nit-picking all the way through the film, which stars Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow and Om Puri.

“In the film, Viceroy’s House is swarming with pretty girls but there wasn’t a woman in sight when I was there,” she says of the 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants that pandered to the lavish lifestyle of the Raj in its dying days.

There were 25 gardeners to attend to flower arrangements alone, and there was one man who did nothing but prepare chickens
“The grandeur was alarming,” she continues. “There were twenty-five gardeners to attend to flower arrangements alone, and there was one man who did nothing but prepare chickens. The house was so vast that one had to allow ten minutes to arrive at dinner on time.

“My father, of course, was quite unimpressed because he spent his youth with his Russian aunt and uncle in much grander buildings,” she adds.

Today, Lady Pamela lives in The Grove, an elegant country house in Oxfordshire, decorated by her husband, the celebrated society interior designer David Hicks who died of lung cancer in 1998. The couple have two daughters, Edwina and India, a bridesmaid at the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and a son, the architect and designer Ashley.

As probably the only living witness to events within the Viceroy’s walls during that tumultuous time, Lady Pamela proved an indispensable source of information to director Gurinder Chadha, the filmmaker behind Bend it Like Beckham.

“We spoke for hours and she even sent one of her people to check the costumes while I was at the hairdresser. There I was, an array of fantastic scarlet uniforms laid out at my feet, with ladies under dryers either side of me,” Chadha says.

Despite her protestations to the contrary, the youngest daughter of Lord Mountbatten has a sharp memory. In one of the early scenes of the film, Lady Pamela’s mother, Edwina, is seen dismissing a racist maid who had accompanied the family from England.

 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants that pandered to the lavish lifestyle of the Raj in its dying days
500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants pandered to the lavish lifestyle of the Raj in its dying days CREDIT: KERRY MONTEEN/PATHE UK
“That was Mrs Hudson,” she recalls. “My mother heard her say some unpleasant things and got rid of her. That was typical of the time. From the outset my father insisted that half the guests at garden parties and lunches should be Indian. I was staggered during one of them, when I inadvertently overheard someone say: 'What are all these filthy Indians doing here?’

“My parents were quite enlightened and brought us up so that we had no prejudice.”

The idea of [Nehru] betraying my father, who was a friend, by sleeping with his wife in his own house? No. It would have made it sordid
Lady Pamela’s mother, Edwina, is played by Gillian Anderson. “I thought she did a splendid job,” she says, “although she tried so hard to get my mother’s walk right, that she ended up giving her a little hump.”

Viceroy’s House does not touch on Lady Mountbatten’s rumoured affair with India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but Lady Pamela insists, “there was no way they could have had a sexual thing at the time because they were never alone. They were permanently surrounded by police and ADCs.

“Besides, Jawaharlal was a very honourable man. The idea of betraying my father, who was a friend, by sleeping with his wife in his own house? No. It would have made it sordid.”

Despite her mother’s tireless efforts in refugee camps in the bloody aftermath of partition – as well as her work with St John’s Ambulance until she died in Borneo in 1960 aged 58 – it is her extra-marital dalliances that are most often discussed.

“The world is only interested in sex,” says Lady Pamela. “I remember, years after her death, sitting next to her former lover Bunny Phillips, who told me: 'Your mother has this reputation of being some sort of nymphomaniac, but actually she hated sex. She just couldn’t live without admiration’.

[My] mother has this reputation of being some sort of nymphomaniac, but actually she hated sex. She just couldn’t live without admiration
“Jawaharlal and my mother undoubtedly loved one another. They were soul mates,” she continues. “But my father was never jealous. He could see that the relationship made her happier and easier to be around.”

Lord Mountbatten is portrayed in the film as a well-meaning but powerless figure, whose determination to keep India united proves futile when secret Westminster politicking is revealed and partition proves inevitable.

Partition – the dividing line drawn through the nation to create India and Pakistan – brought about the largest mass migration in human history, with 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims displaced and many lives lost in the massacres that followed.

As the split dawned, Viceroy’s House and its contents were divided up between the new states – even down to the individual library books.  Lord Mountbatten was asked by Nehru to stay on for ten months as governor-general of India, meaning his family witnessed every struggle.

“The staff were given the choice to stay or go,” Lady Pamela remembers. “And my father said there had to be a fair division of the items in Viceroy’s House. But when they were splitting up the orchestra, they didn’t know what to do with the cymbals. How do you divide cymbals? I think India got them in the end.”

When they were splitting up the orchestra, they didn’t know what to do with the cymbals. How do you divide cymbals? I think India got them in the end
Returning to England with her parents in June 1948, Lady Pamela mourned the colour and intensity of her adopted country. “My mother and I thought of ourselves as Indian,” she says. Distractions quickly presented themselves however, first as an invitation to attend the 1948 Olympics in London alongside the Royal family and later when her family moved to Malta, where her father resumed his Navy career. (He was eventually murdered by the IRA in 1979.)

Lady Pamela accompanied Princess Elizabeth on her 1952 Commonwealth Tour, as a lady-in-waiting. It was during the trip that the future Queen learned of her father, King George VI’s death. “I gave her a hug and a kiss, but suddenly thought, 'Hang on. She is the Queen now.’ So I did a deep curtsey.”

It is her memories of India however, that Lady Pamela holds most dear – and with the 70th anniversary of independence on August 15, her recollections of that day in New Delhi remain vivid.

“A tsunami of people filled every possible space as far as the eye could see, euphoria etched on their faces,” she says. Making her way through the surging crowds, she was encouraged by Nehru to remove her high-heeled shoes and quite literally walk on the laps and shoulders of the people. “Everyone laughed and cheered us on,” she says. “It was the most important day of my life. I had witnessed the birth of two new nations and been present while history was in the making.”

Daughter of Empire : Life as a Mountbatten​ by Pamela Hicks ​is ​published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson ​(£8.99). To order your copy​,  plus p&p​, call 0844 871 1514 or visit​

Pamela Hicks: 'I admired my mother, but I never liked her’
In a new memoir, Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of the last Viceroy, reflects on childhood and friendship with the Royals
Lady Pamela Hicks, 83, who was with Princess Elizabeth in 1952 when she heard she was now Queen
By Peter Stanford10:00PM GMT 16 Dec 2012

We’re trying to work out if Lady Pamela Hicks is the only living witness to the behind-the-scenes dramas of Indian Independence Day in 1948, which she observed as the 18-year-old daughter of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy. “Well, I was speaking on the telephone recently to Gandhiji’s granddaughter,” she confides. “She seems to think she saw everything, too, but she was only nine at the time. I don’t count that.”

She doesn’t pronounce her verdict in a sour or jostling-for-position way. She has simply got to an age – “Eighty-three and a half, though my daughter will insist on telling everyone I am 84” – where she tells it precisely as she sees it. Which makes her very amusing company and rather indiscreet – not quite what I was expecting of an intimate of the Royal family (The Duke of Edinburgh is her first cousin and she is a great, great granddaughter of Queen Victoria). “Oh, but the Queen has such a good sense of humour,” she protests. “And as for Prince Philip…”

That connection with the Windsors has meant that Lady Pamela – “Pammy” to friends and family – has been there, or thereabouts, at some of the key moments in 20th century history. As well as her handmaiden role at the end of empire in India, she was one of the tiny group with Princess Elizabeth in Kenya in 1952 on the morning the princess heard that her father, George VI, had died and that she was now Queen. “I’m pretty sure,” she says, running through the others in her mind, “that I’m the only one left.”

She was a bridesmaid at the royal wedding in 1947, too. There is plenty of newsreel footage and archive material to show and tell generations to come what happened in Westminster Abbey, but Lady Pamela can take us inside Buckingham Palace, too. In her new memoir, Daughter of Empire, she describes the bride remaining “wonderfully calm” as first her tiara breaks, then her pearls (a gift from her father) go missing and finally her bouquet is misplaced, eventually turning up in a cupboard. “It had been popped in to remain cool.”

There are also witty pen portraits of the assembled European royals – most of them distant relatives of Lady Pamela’s. Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands “causes a stir” by bemoaning that “everyone’s jewellery is so dirty”. “It was typical of Princess Juliana to say such a thing, for she was very down to earth.” So what does Lady Pamela think of the more relaxed style of today’s Dutch and Scandinavian royal families? “Everybody talks about how they spend their time bicycling around their capital cities,” she says, “but I can tell you that the Stockholm palace is infinitely bigger than Buckingham Palace, and they still have plenty of flunkeys.”

Lady Pamela’s own domestic set-up is more modest. She lives in a beautiful manor house in the south Oxfordshire countryside. The influence of David Hicks is all about us. A designer who made his name in the Swinging Sixties, he and Lady Pamela married at the start of that decade – “an unorthodox match”, she writes in her memoir, but a happy one right up to his death in 1998. “I came from this ordinary naval family,” she recalls, for once employing a hefty dose of poetic licence, “and as a result of my marriage I’ve now spent 50 years surrounded by dotty creative people.” Perhaps that accounts for the gentle note of irreverence in her voice – that and the slight throatiness that she says is the result of having a “permanent frog”.

As well as David’s vibrant interiors, and the avenues of trees that carry my eye out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to outdoor rooms, Lady Pamela also has work by her son, the designer Ashley Hicks, to admire and puzzle over. “Did you notice that mound of earth with hands and feet sticking out of it as you drove in?” she asks. “He tells me it is a giant trying to get out of the earth.”

She still talks about her late husband as if he is in the next room, or down the corridor lovingly restoring the dining-room panels that were originally painted in the late 1930s for her wealthy heiress mother, Edwina, by Rex Whistler. There have been biographies of David Hicks, including one, she recounts with horror, “which described me as having led a very sheltered life in the countryside before my marriage. That is why I felt obliged to mention in my book that I had 10 proposals of marriage before I met David.”

Ten sounds like an awful lot, I suggest. “It is what happens when you are young. They weren’t all serious.” She makes a proposal sound rather like asking someone out on a date. “Even when they were serious, I didn’t want to go and live in the middle of a civil war.”

She is referring to the only suitor she names in the memoir – “There were more in my first draft, but India [her daughter, the former model and now Bahamas-based businesswoman] told me it was toe-curling.” George Arida is described in the book as “a dashing young Lebanese man” who lived in Beirut – hence the not entirely historically accurate reference to civil war. But today she chooses to call him “the man in black”. As in the Milk Tray adverts, scaling castle ramparts to bring her a box of chocolates? “Oh, no,” she giggles naughtily, clearly taken by the idea. “I mean more like that American singer. You know the one.” She pauses for a moment, but her memory is crystal clear. “Johnny Cash.”

If her own marriage was blessed, Lady Pamela writes candidly about the strains on her parents’ union. “My mother had at least 18 lovers,” she says as if describing pairs of shoes, “but my father, to my knowledge, only had one other. The saving grace was that he wasn’t jealous.”

Among Edwina Mountbatten’s reported love affairs was one with “Panditji” Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister, which is said to have played out while her husband was bringing an end to British rule. While accepting that the two were very close, Lady Pamela disagrees with those biographers who claim that a physical relationship took place between the two. She does so not to protect her mother’s reputation, but because she doubts they ever had the opportunity to be alone, with so many servants and officials always in attendance.

“I never liked her,” she says unflinchingly of her mother. “She had no idea of how to play with children, unlike my father. She was a woman who could never have a personal conversation with you, and who needed constant flattery. If she didn’t have that, she became lonely and miserable.

“As a child, I admired her for her glamour. Then when we were in India, and I saw the work she did there, especially with Japanese prisoners of war, that admiration grew.”

Her mother died in 1960 at the age of 58, but Lady Pamela’s staunch loyalty belongs to her father. “He could be so naive. To her dying day, he was always worrying that Mummy would divorce him. 'I’ll have to move out to the flat above the garage,’ he’d say to us. But although she said she had no time for royalty, and that she was a true socialist, Mummy would never have left him. Try keeping her away from a party at Buckingham Palace.”

Lady Pamela and her sister [who became Countess Mountbatten after their father was murdered by the IRA in 1979] attended the wedding of William and Kate – “they were kind enough to invite us” – but her days playing any part in the royal set-up are over, she says. “There comes a moment, when you have as large a family as the Queen does, when you just have to have a cull and cut out all the people over 80.”

Which should leave her more time to write. “Oh, no. Not after the agony of this book [her second volume of memoirs]. I’ve never been a real writer. As a young woman I once submitted an article to The Times, about my pet mongoose, and got a rejection letter by return of post.”

'Daughter of Empire: Life as a Mountbatten’ by Pamela Hicks (W&N) is available from Telegraph Books at £13.99 + £1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1515 or go to