Lillie (TV series)

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Lillie is a British television serial made by London Weekend Television for ITV and broadcast in 1978.

This period serial starred Francesca Annis in the title role of Lillie Langtry. She had played the same character in the 1975 serial Edward the Seventh and many of the same writers and directors that were responsible for that series helped to create this one.

Other actors featured include Anton Rodgers as Edward Langtry, Peter Egan as Oscar Wilde, Brian Deacon as Frank Miles, Jennie Linden as Patsy Cornwallis-West, Don Fellows as James Whistler, David Gwillim as Arthur Jones and Annette Crosbie as Henrietta Labouchere. Denis Lill played Bertie the Prince of Wales, later Edward the VII. He had played Frederick Ponsonby to Timothy West's Edward in the aforementioned Edward the Seventh whereas Crosbie played Queen Victoria in that production.

The series had a total of 13 episodes. It is available on DVD in both the UK and North American markets, and has also been repeated on UKTV Drama.

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Emillie" John Gorrie David Butler 24 September 1978 (1978-09-24)
On the island of Jersey, Emillie Charlotte Le Breton grows up as one of the boys with her brothers (including their education), unconsciously breaking hearts as early as 1863, when she is only 15. Her happy childhood ends when her mother takes her to London for a week to show her what is expected of her as a woman. Her father, the dean of the local church, forbids her to go on seeing a local boy. The wealthy ship owner and widower Edward Langtry seems her best option for escape from the island.
2 2 "Mrs Langtry" John Gorrie David Butler 1 October 1978 (1978-10-01)
Lillie quickly discovers that her new husband expects her to be quiet, pretty, complaisant, and very much a lady. Terrified of being left isolated and lonely in their large Southampton house, she convinces him to take her with him in competition, ending with a visit to Jersey. There, she discovers that Langtry's apparent wealth has been overwhelmed by debt and all he has left is a small allowance. After surviving a bout of typhoid, she gets her doctor to convince Langtry that full recovery requires a move to London. The death by riding accident of her brother Reggie provides an excuse to stick to a single black dress for public appearances. An invitation from an old Jersey acquaintance leads to her first dinner party, where she meets the writer Oscar Wilde and the artists John Millais, Frank Miles, and James Whistler, all of whom want to take her likeness.
3 3 "The Jersey Lily" John Gorrie David Butler 8 October 1978 (1978-10-08)
The appearance of copies of Frank Miles' sketch in shops announce Lillie's arrival as a professional beauty and she is much in demand at social occasions, accompanied by her increasingly irrelevant husband.
4 4 "The New Helen" Christopher Hodson David Butler 15 October 1978 (1978-10-15)
King Leopold of Belgium, whom Lillie has met at a reception, begins to pay her personal attention. Despite the possible social consequences for herself and the increasingly often inebriated Edward, she declines to continue the relationship. While she enjoys the company of other conquests, Oscar Wilde lets her in on what everyone else knows: she's under consideration for a much better offer.
5 5 "Bertie" John Gorrie David Butler 22 October 1978 (1978-10-22)
Lillie begins planning for the end of the season, when she imagines she will be left alone with Edward for the rest of her life. While the thought of a life in Jersey with the enamored Arthur Jones has its appeal, the Prince of Wales has other ideas, which require her to remain married to Edward.
6 6 "Let Them Say" Christopher Hodson David Butler 29 October 1978 (1978-10-29)
Prince Leopold of Germany visits London and is much taken with Lillie, suggesting that with the Prince of Wales out of town it's expected that she is available for loan-out. Furious, the Prince takes her publicly under his protection and determines that she shall be presented at court. Lillie befriends the actress Sarah Bernhardt when Bertie's attentions begin to shift in that direction. James Whistler leaves town after being bankrupted by winning a libel suit. Reckless after losing her relationship with former neighbor Arthur Jones, Lillie publicly oversteps the bounds of her relationship with the Prince.
7 7 "The Sailor Prince" Christopher Hodson John Gorrie 5 November 1978 (1978-11-05)
The doors closing to Lillie reopen when the Prince publicly appreciates her appearance in a tableau vivant for John Millais. Trouble awaits, in the form of newspaper stories that Edward Langtry has filed for divorce and has named the Prince as a co-respondent. Meanwhile, they are nearly out of money because Edward's Irish tenants are refusing to pay up. When Lillie thinks of marrying Prince Louis of Battenberg, Bertie forbids it. Lillie encounters a problem in her new plan to become an actress.
8 8 "Going on the Stage" Tony Wharmby John Gorrie 12 November 1978 (1978-11-12)
Lillie, out of money, closes up her London house and with the help of Arthur Jones moves back to Jersey, where the Prince arranges to loan her£2,000 and finish her pregnancy in Paris, where she gives birth to a daughter, Jeanne Marie, whom she tells the world is her niece. With permanently drunk Edward resisting giving her a divorce, she returns to London to become an actress, aided by actress and teacher Henrietta Labouchere. Early successes lead to an American tour.
9 9 "America!" John Gorrie John Gorrie 19 November 1978 (1978-11-19)
Lillie's American tour is a popular success but a critical failure, which doesn't surprise the increasingly resentful and frustrated Henrietta. More successful is her new relationship with the wealthy New Yorker Freddy Gebhard, who tells her she can get a divorce by becoming an American citizen.
10 10 "Home on the Range" Tony Wharmby David Butler 17 November 1978 (1978-11-17)
The Prince's latest passion, for gambling, becomes a London society craze. On her latest American tour, Lillie finds herself in competition, then cahoots, with the American actress Lilian Russell. After her father's death, Lillie brings Jeanne Marie and her mother to join her in the US. Freddy issues an ultimatum. Delayed by a bout of measles followed by pneumonia, Lillie tries to recoup her losses on a ranch venture by returning to the stage, but falls out with Oscar Wilde when he writes Lady Windermere's Fan for her and inserts too much truth. She falls in with the wealthy racehorse owner and amateur jockey George Baird, Squire of Abingdon.
11 11 "Mr Jersey" John Gorrie David Butler 24 November 1978 (1978-11-24)
Lillie's relationship with the abusive and bullying Squire costs her friends, career, and many of her long-time servants though it's financially lucrative. After two years' silence, she reconciles with Oscar Wilde. At the Prince's behest, she does not press charges when one of Squire's beatings nearly kills her. When his death leaves her without the inheritance she expected, she races the horses he chose for her under the name Mr Jersey. Riding high on the success of The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde is arrested on charges of sodomy and gross indecency. Jeanne Marie discovers Lillie's identity as her mother, and Lillie finally secures a divorce.
12 12 "Sunset and Evening Star" Tony Wharmby David Butler 1 December 1978 (1978-12-01)
Edward Langtry's death has Lillie branded a heartless adverturess in the newspapers. Jeanne Marie is introduced to royalty. Lillie goes back on the stage, auctions her yacht, and opens her own theater to recoup losses after half her fortune disappears when the safe deposit box containing her jewelry is stolen from the bank. She and her new husband Hugo de Bathe spend an increasing amount of time apart. Jeanne gets married and finally learns the whole truth about herself.
13 13 "Fifty Cents a Dance" John Gorrie John Gorrie 8 December 1978 (1978-12-08)
Bertie bequeaths Lillie his dog. While World War I breaks out, Lillie tours America, makes a short silent film, and gets into a fight in a dance hall. Lillie's brother Clem and Louis Battenberg try to convince Jeanne Marie to forgive her mother; her son, Victor, finally succeeds. Lillie ends her days living in Monaco.

External links[edit]