|Written by||Osman Bodur|
|Directed by||Serdar Akar|
|Country of origin||Turkey|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||95|
|Running time||150 min.|
|Original network||TRT 1|
|Picture format||576i (16:9 SDTV )|
1080i ( HDTV )
Payitaht: Abdülhamid, named The Last Emperor in English, is a Turkish historical television drama series starring Bulent Inal and Özlem Conker depicting historical events during the reign of the 34th Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II.
The series follows last 10 years of the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II as he tries to protect the Empire and industrialize it.
|Character||Played by||Appearance in Episodes||Description|
|Sultan Abdul Hamid II||Bülent İnal||1-||Sultan Abdul Hamid II: Sultan Abdülhamid is the titular character, played by Bülent İnal. He is the last Sultan to hold executive powers in Ottoman Empire. Abdülhamid is a seasoned politician and statesman. He is trying to preserve the Empire from external as well as internal threats. He survives many assassination attempts. Sultan is a devout Muslim who wants to modernize and industrialize the empire while retaining Islamic and cultural values. His dream project is Hejaz railway to connect Muslim world from Sarajevo to Baghdad to the Holiest sites in Islam. He is shown to be the de facto head of the secret police and intelligence services of the Empire.|
|Tahsin Pasha||Bahadır Yenişehirlioğlu||1-||The Prime Minister and personal secretary of sultan. He is the most loyal person of the Sultan and Sultan trusts him with his life. He is always present with the Sultan.|
|Bidar Kadın||Özlem Conker||1-||Wife of Abdulhamid II, the empress and matriarch of the palace. She is the mother of Prince Abdülkadir and Naime Sultan.|
|Halil Halit||Gürkan Uygun||55-||He is the most trustworthy and efficient spy of Sultan. He is seen carrying out missions throughout the Empire as well as behind enemy lines like in Tsarist Russia. He is known as "Dayi" or Uncle, and commands a small group of men, including Söğütlü Osman and Tatar who accompany him on different missions|
|Pesend Hanım||Zeynep Özder||4-17||Sultan Abdülhamid's second wife.|
|Seniha Sultan||Selen Öztürk||1-||Sultan Abdülhamid's sister and wife of Mahmut Pasha. She loves her brother and always wants him out of the harm's way.|
|Theodor Herzl||Saygın Soysal||1-40||The main antagonist of the series. Herzl is an Austro-Hungarian Zionist. He wants to establish a Zionist state in Palestine and tries to convince the Sultan. He repeatedly publishes fake news against Abdülhamid II to defame him and the Ottoman Empire.|
|Mahmud Pasha||Hakan Boyav||1-||Brother in law of Sultan and husband of Seniha Sultan. He is one of the Pashas. He is one of the antagonist for much of the series. He is greedy and treacherous, always ready to switch sides. He is main conspirator of several assassination attempts on Sultan and tries to sabotage the Hejaz Railway project. He is also the best comic relief character. Mahmut Pasha reforms after helping the Sultan find the killer of his uncle, and becomes a trustworthy pasha.|
|Şehzade Mehmed Abdülkadir||Can Sipahi||1-||Son of Sultan Abdülhamid and Bidar Kadın. He is arrogant, pampered by his mother and spoiled by his uncle Mahmut Pasha who wants to use him as a pawn. He causes trouble for the Sultan and exhibits a lot of personal and ideological differences with his father. His best friend is his cousin Sebahattin, who repeatedly tricks him into making many mistakes.|
|Naime Sultan||Duygu Gürcan||1-||Sultan Abdul Hamid and Bidar Kadın's daughter.|
|Prince Sabahaddin||Kaan Turgut||1-||Son of Seniha Sultan and Mahmut Pasha. He is a Young Turk member. He is cunning like his father and acts as his right-hand man in manipulating Prince Abdülkadir. He is ideologically more rabid than his father. Is a traitor and flees the Empire. Collaborates with Armenian gangs and Rothschild to bring trouble to Abdülhamid.|
|Kolağası Celal||Umut Kurt||1-9||Excellent marksman and loyal soldier of the Sultan. He is an officer in sultan's secret police.|
|Melike (Ahsen)||Ezgi Eyüboğlu||1-39||A beautiful girl from Balkans who loses her memory in an accident during the chaos of an assassination attempt on the Sultan. She becomes a royal guest and becomes a love interest for Prince Abdülkadir, who run into trouble with rival Ömer.|
|Ömer||Akın Akınözü||1-17||Brave, dashing and fearless cabby, he is a commoner. He saves the Sultan during the assassination attempt and becomes a favorite young admirer of sultan. His best friends are Yusuf and Celal who works in Secret Police. He is romantically interested in Melike which causes him to get in trouble with Prince Abdülkadir.|
|Yusuf||İbrahim Kendirci||1-27||He was born and raised on the same street as Ömer. When he[who?] lost his family at 13, he moved with his[who?] family. Together with Ömer, he is sworn to fight.|
|Fehime Sultan||Elif Özkul||1-||Ottoman Sultan Murad V's second daughter. Abdülhamid treats her like his own daughter, although she is forbidden to meet her father.|
|Hatice Sultan||Gözde Kaya||1-||Sultan Murad V's eldest daughter.|
|Hiram||Berkan Şal||1-||An Armenian priest sent by Vatican but, he is more than a pastor. He in start is an atheist professional assassin. He is known to commits his first murder at the age of four. He attempted to assassinate Abdülhamid but he fails. Abdülhamid confronts him in prison with some emotional details about his past, after which he becomes a double agent for Abdülhamid.|
|Emanuel Karasu||Ali Nuri Türkoğlu||2-||He is a well-known member of Young Turks. He is a member of a well-known merchant family of zionists who plots to overthrow the Empire.|
|Aleksandr İsrail Parvus||Kevork Malikyan||18-54||A rich Zionist who funds various anti-Ottoman factions.|
|Samir||Emre Kentmenoğlu||1-9||Brother of Melike. He is a journalist by profession who believes in violent revenge for the death of his father who is believed to be killed during a rebellion against the Empire in the Balkans. He too wants to kill the Sultan.|
|Sara Hedeya||Elena Viunova||1-17||Assistant and personal secretory of Herzl. She is a hardcore Zionist herself.|
|Ahmed Celaleddin Pasha||Cem Ucan||75-||The head of spies for Abdülhamid. Was underground for several years due to his harsh tactics, but was summoned to track down the traitorous pasha who was collaborating with the Young Turks.|
According to staff members of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the series promotes an antidemocratic, antisemitic and conspiratorial worldview, mirroring that of Turkish President Erdoğan. The Washington Times noted that the series "promotes a worldview uncannily similar to that of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: A free press, secularism and democracy are the work of foreign powers, religious minorities and godless liberals, and ultimately serve to erode national identity, honor and security. Yet a deeper dive into the series shows that not all journalists are accused of slanders but a particular segment that contributes to the widespread notion of fake news. Of all the series’ villains, none are more sinister than the Zionists." However, the show also goes on to depict the Jews as people of innocence while marking a contrast between Judaism and Zionism. This is shown by the saving of Jews by Sultan AbdulHamid II that fled Russia due to discrimination and wide-spread abuse.
Ritman and Galuppo stated that the television series portrays Abdulhamid "as a noble leader forced to do what he must to protect the Ottoman Empire", at odds with the negative reputation in the west for allowing the Hamidian massacres.
Theodor Herzl, the liberal founder of modern Zionism is one of the villains of the series who is portrayed as a man so perfidious as to hold his penniless father prisoner without his mother's knowledge because of alleged ideological differences. The show depicts him at the First Zionist Congress, portrayed in such a way as to evoke the Elders of Zion, planning to create a Jewish state spanning from the Nile to Euphrates, which is a popular anti-Semitic conspiracy theory albeit it's truth arguably contested. Meanwhile, the coin-flipper for the Sultan is portrayed as a secret Vatican agent allegedly working on behalf of Herzl, even though the Vatican allegedly opposed the establishment of Israel. The Washington Times noted that this portrayal was "revisionist in the extreme" even though the show reports itself to be "inspired by real historical events".
The anti-Westernism present in the show's message has also been remarked upon, as the production portrays "Zionist conspiracies" as melding together with the nefarious plots of the Catholic Church, Freemasonry, Britain as well as other Western powers, and the Young Turks into "one overarching scheme". The Vatican emissary is named "Hiram", a name that is associated with Freemasonry.
Political endorsements in Turkey
The Washington Post noted that various actors in Turkey's political scene seemed to explicitly endorse the messages present in the show.
In Turkey, the show has met the approval of a descendant of Abdulhamid, who said "history repeats itself … these meddling foreigners now call our president a dictator, just as they used to call Abdulhamid the ‘Red Sultan’".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the show's portrayals just two days before a referendum, saying "the same schemes are carried out today in the exact same manner … What the West does to us is the same; just the era and actors are different". Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus lauded the show for "shedding light" on Sultan Abdulhamid's life in "an objective manner", and gave a personal visit to the set. Aykan Erdemir and Oren Kessler, writing for the Washington Times, noted that Sultan Abdulhamid frequently used the same Koranic-inspired catchphrases as President Erdogan, notably including "If they have a plan, God too has a plan!".
The Muslims of subcontinent have always enjoyed close ties with Turkey which date all the way back to the Mughal Emperor Babur. More prominently they were seen during the rise of the Khilafat Movement during the colonial era of the British. Today, the same sentiments are to be found once again from its constituents comprising Pakistan, Bangladesh and India where the show has received widespread support.
- "Payitaht "Abdülhamid" cuma günü başlıyor" (in Turkish). Haberturk. 18 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- "Sultan Abdülhamid's era depicted in new TV series". Daily Sabah. Anadolu Agency. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- Ritman, Alex; Mia Galuppo (2017-04-21). "'The Promise' vs. 'The Ottoman Lieutenant': Two Movies Battle Over the Armenian Genocide". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
- Aykan Erdemir and Oren Kessler (15 May 2017). "A Turkish TV blockbuster reveals Erdogan's conspiratorial, anti-semitic worldview". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
- "Şehzade Orhan Osmanoğlu: O benim dedem değil!". Turkiye Haber Merkezi. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
- "Erdogan degerlendirdi: Dirilis mi, Payitaht mi?". Yeni Akit. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
- "Numan Kurtulmuş, Payitaht Abdülhamid setinde". Sabah. February 15, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
- "Turkish Series About Sultan Causes Concern in Kosovo". Balkan Insight. March 9, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
- "The Last Great Caliph: Abdülhamid II". Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 2019-04-13.