Edward & Mrs. Simpson

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Edward & Mrs. Simpson
Edward & Mrs. Simpson.jpg
Written by
Directed by Waris Hussein
Starring
Theme music composer Ron Grainer
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) Andrew Brown
Release
Original channel ITV
Original release 6 November 1978 – 20 December 1978

Edward & Mrs. Simpson is a seven-part British television series that dramatises the events leading to the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, who gave up his throne to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.

The series, made by Thames Television for ITV, was originally broadcast in 1978. Edward Fox played Edward, and Cynthia Harris portrayed Mrs. Simpson. The series was scripted by Simon Raven, based on Fox's maternal aunt Frances Donaldson's biography of the King, Edward VIII. It was produced by Andrew Brown, overseen by Head of Drama Thames Television Verity Lambert and directed by Waris Hussein. The incidental music was by Ron Grainer.

The series won the 1980 Emmy award for Outstanding Limited Series, and BAFTA Awards in 1979 for Best Actor, Best Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Series or Serial. It has been released on DVD in Region 2 (UK) by Network, and in Region 1 (United States) by A&E.

Episodes[edit]

  1. The Little Prince: Edward's life in the 1920s as Prince of Wales, his romances with Freda Dudley Ward and Lady Furness, his introduction to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Simpson. There is a slight historical query as the first official meeting of Edward and Mrs Simpson took place at Burroughs Court near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on Saturday 10 January 1931.[1] The episode suggests a short meeting took place at the London residence of Lady Furness in the Autumn of 1930 (which is not documented and therefore cannot be proved).
  2. Venus at the Prow: The romance between Edward and Mrs. Simpson develops.
  3. The New King: Edward succeeds to the throne upon the death of his father, King George V, in January, 1936, and asks Mrs. Simpson to marry him. Mr. Simpson agrees to a divorce. The King, Mrs. Simpson, and friends cruise the Mediterranean, an event widely reported by the press outside of England.
  4. The Divorce: Edward convinces Mrs. Simpson to go forward with her divorce; she would then be free to marry him and be crowned Queen at the coronation scheduled for May, 1937. The King and the government pressure the British press to maintain silence about the King's romance, but news dribbles into Britain and gossip abounds. The New York Journal breaks the story "King will wed Wally".
  5. The Decision: Edward is warned that British press silence about his 'friendship' with Mrs. Simpson is about to be broken. The King tells the royal family and the Prime Minister that he intends to marry Wallis Simpson, and will abdicate if he cannot do so as King.
  6. Proposals: Attempts are made to resolve the problem without Edward's abdicating, including a proposal put forth by the King for a morganatic marriage with Wallis Simpson. The British and Commonwealth governments oppose the marriage in any form.
  7. The Abdication: The final days of Edward as King. The signing of the Abdication on 10 December 1936 at Fort Belvedere. The radio broadcast to the nation on 11 December 1936 from the Augusta Tower, Windsor Castle. Edward's exile sailing on HMS Fury from Portsmouth. The marriage of Edward and Mrs Simpson on 3 June 1937.[2]

Music[edit]

In 1978, RK Records released an official soundtrack album (UK cat No: RKLP 5003). It had 12 tracks, some composed or arranged by Ron Grainer and all played by his orchestra.[3] The album is considered rare by collectors; and unique in featuring so many 1930s hits in full stereo sound for the first time.[4] The track listing was as follows:

Side one
  1. "I've Danced With A Man"
  2. "The Very Thought Of You"
  3. "A Room With A View"
  4. "If I Had You"
  5. "Of Cabbages And Kings"
  6. "Bring Down The Curtain"
Side two
  1. "One More Dance"
  2. "Dance Little Lady"
  3. "Tango"
  4. "When Love Grows Cold"
  5. "Rumours In The Wind"
  6. "I've Danced With A Man" (End Titles/Reprise)

The theme music used for the opening and closing titles was a composite of Herbert Farjeon's 1927 song "I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales"[5][6] and the opening of the British national anthem "God Save the King." The Farjeon song was inspired by Edna Deane, a well known champion ballroom dancer of the time. The Theme song vocalist was Jenny Wren.[7]

Jenny Wren also appears as lead vocalist on 'Bring Down The Curtain' and 'One More Dance'.

'Dance little Lady' was a Noël Coward contemporary hit of 1928/29.[8] This soundtrack album has the instrumental version used in the first episode where Edward meets up with Freda Dudley-Ward at the famous Embassy Club in Mayfair, London, c1928/29. "The Very Thought of You" is also an instrumental version of Ray Noble's popular 1934 song.[9]

Notably, the soundtrack includes another Noel Coward 1928 song entitled 'A Room With A View'.[10] The instrumental version is excellently arranged by Ron Grainer. The song was a particular favourite of Edward VIII when Prince of Wales.[11]

Other music used during the series were original recordings by Al Bowlly including "Isn't It Heavenly" (two recordings exist from 1 August 1933 and 25 October 1933 for Decca; it is not known which recording was used in the series) and "Love Is the Sweetest Thing" (recorded 8 September 1932). Al Bowlly lived in London but was often found touring the UK. He enjoyed a succession of hits and is thought to have recorded hundreds of songs between 1927 and 1941.[12] "Isn't It Heavenly" takes centre stage in a scene in which Edward and Mrs Simpson are dancing in their private hotel suite c.1935. None of the Al Bowly recordings are included on the soundtrack album probably as a result of licensing restrictions. 'If I Had You' was recorded by Al Bowlly in 1928 but again his version is not on the soundtrack album and is replaced by Ron Grainer's instrumental arrangement.

Ron Grainer provided the incidental music used throughout the series of which 'When Love Grows Cold' is the most recognizable and included in full on the soundtrack album.

The soundtrack album was produced and engineered by Barry Kingston for Robert Kingston Productions Ltd (the album label owner); with musical direction and arrangement by Ron Grainer.

The album cover contains two photographs by Series Photographer Clive Coote. Both photographs of Edward VIII (Edward Fox) and Wallis Simpson (Cynthia Harris) were taken on location at Fort Belvedere near Sunningdale in Berkshire (the home of Edward VIII as Prince of Wales from 1929 to December 1936). The full cast are listed on the album cover.[13]

Cast[edit]

Response[edit]

The series was produced and aired during the Duchess of Windsor's lifetime and though becoming increasingly ill, it is reported she found the series to be a gross invasion of her privacy. Her requests to be sent a copy of the script were apparently ignored and she received an amount of correspondence from people who said they would not watch the series.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ziegler, P. (1990), King Edward VIII: The Official Biography, Published by Collins, London. p223
  2. ^ Ziegler, P. (1990), King Edward VIII: The Official Biography, Published by Collins, London. p311 - p365
  3. ^ Edward & Mrs Simpson, Soundtrack, RK Records, 1978
  4. ^ Edward & Mrs Simpson, Soundtrack, RK Records, 1978
  5. ^ I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales
  6. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/26/world/edna-deane-dancer-and-inspiration-90.html
  7. ^ Edward & Mrs Simpson, Soundtrack, RK Records, 1978
  8. ^ http://songwritershalloffame.org/index.php/songs/detailed/C214/
  9. ^ http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibits/C235
  10. ^ http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/songs/detailed/C214
  11. ^ Edward & Mrs Simpson, Soundtrack, RK Records, 1978
  12. ^ Al Bowlly
  13. ^ Edward & Mrs Simpson, Soundtrack, RK Records, 1978
  14. ^ Mosley, Diana (2003), The Duchess of Windsor and Other Friends, London: Gibson Square Books Ltd; New edition 

External links[edit]