Kingdom (TV series)

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Kingdom
Kingdom title card.png
Kingdom intertitle
GenreComedy drama
Created bySimon Wheeler
Alan Whiting (co-creator)
Starring
Composer(s)Mark Russell
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series3
No. of episodes18 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Simon Wheeler
Stephen Fry
Alan Moloney
Gina Carter
Producer(s)Georgina Lowe
Running time46 minutes
Production company(s)Parallel Film and Television
Sprout Productions
Ingenious Broadcasting
Broadcast
Original channelITV
First shown inPan-Europe (Series 1)
Belgium (Series 3)
Original run22 April 2007 (2007-04-22) – 12 July 2009 (2009-07-12)
External links
Website
 
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This article is about the 2007 British television series. For the 2014 U.S. television series, see Kingdom (2014 TV series).
Kingdom
Kingdom title card.png
Kingdom intertitle
GenreComedy drama
Created bySimon Wheeler
Alan Whiting (co-creator)
Starring
Composer(s)Mark Russell
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series3
No. of episodes18 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Simon Wheeler
Stephen Fry
Alan Moloney
Gina Carter
Producer(s)Georgina Lowe
Running time46 minutes
Production company(s)Parallel Film and Television
Sprout Productions
Ingenious Broadcasting
Broadcast
Original channelITV
First shown inPan-Europe (Series 1)
Belgium (Series 3)
Original run22 April 2007 (2007-04-22) – 12 July 2009 (2009-07-12)
External links
Website

Kingdom is a British television series produced by Parallel Film and Television Productions for the ITV network. It was created by Simon Wheeler and stars Stephen Fry as Peter Kingdom, a Norfolk solicitor who is coping with family, colleagues, and the strange locals who come to him for legal assistance. The series also starred Hermione Norris, Celia Imrie, Karl Davies, Phyllida Law and Tony Slattery.

The first series of six one-hour episodes was aired in 2007 and averaged six million viewers per week. Despite a mid-series ratings dip, the executive chairman of ITV praised the programme and ordered a second series, which was filmed in 2007 and broadcast in January and February 2008. Filming on the third series ran from July to September 2008 for broadcast from 7 June 2009.

Stephen Fry announced in October 2009 that ITV was cancelling the series, a fact later confirmed by the channel, which said that given tighter budgets, more expensive productions were being cut.[1]

Series synopses[edit]

The series follows Peter Kingdom, a small-town solicitor whose work revolves around cases brought by the eclectic and eccentric populace of Market Shipborough. The series retains a largely episodic format, where self-contained plots play out before the hour concludes, though a continuing storyline concerns the mysterious disappearance of Simon Kingdom, Peter's half-brother. The first episode reveals that he vanished at sea six months previously and that everybody who knew him (including Peter) assumed that he committed suicide. Each week there are further indications that he did not die, culminating in episode six when it is revealed that he had a relationship with a woman, and that she had become pregnant with his child after he had supposedly died. In the first series we are also introduced to Peter's half-sister, Beatrice, who slowly becomes an integral character in the series.

Simon returns in the second series and is charged with faking his own death. He is released from custody after Lyle uses Simon's own money to bail him, and when Simon reveals he was actually attempting suicide. Beatrice learns that she is pregnant, so she leaves Market Shipborough until the baby is born in the last episode of the series. Lyle threatens to leave Kingdom & Kingdom when his mentor Peter begins to neglect him, but he changes his mind when Peter makes him a partner. In the final episode, a torrential storm hits Market Shipborough, flooding much of the town. While searching for his brother, who drove off the previous night, Peter encounters something unseen by the audience, which is revealed to be Simon's dead body in Series 3.

Series 3 largely steps away from Simon as we are now aware that he has died. Instead, this series focuses more on Peter's life, Beatrice and her new baby (Petra), Lyle, and Gloria, the receptionist. Toward the end of the series Peter begins to suffer from small blackouts. He has some minor tests done to find out the cause of the problem. It is revealed in the last episode that Peter has Type 2 diabetes. When Peter asks the doctor whether he should tell Beatrice and Petra to get checked out, the doctor revealed that diabetes isn't the only thing they discovered. In the final scenes Peter reveals that he has found out that he has no blood relation to Beatrice or Simon, and that therefore "their" father was not in fact his father.

Characters[edit]

Tony Slattery (right) as Sidney Snell during filming of the second series in 2007. To emphasise the character's unkempt nature, his costume is rarely changed.

The characters are described by Wheeler as "three families"; Peter's relations, his colleagues, and the populace of Market Shipborough.[2]

Thomas Fisher plays Ted, a local yokel who is the landlord of the local pub and a friend of Sidney Snell. Gerard Horan plays DC Yelland, who is in charge of prosecuting the Simon Kingdom case but also sometimes appears on other matters. Both Ted and Yelland's roles are expanded in the second series. In the first series, Maryann Turner plays a recurring minor character referred to only as "Mrs Thing", whom Peter is constantly trying to avoid. Simon's pregnant partner, Honor O'Sullivan (played by Kelly Campbell), is introduced in the final episode of the first series. By the second series she has given birth to baby Daniel and is living with Beatrice and Peter, where she develops an attraction to Lyle. She leaves after Simon returns.

Guest appearances in the first series are made by Richard Wilson (as Peter's old university tutor in episode four), Robert Bathurst (as a cross-dressing husband in episode five), Lynsey De Paul as Sheila Larsen, who drowns in her own swimming pool, Joss Ackland (as an Auschwitz survivor in episode six), and Rory Bremner (as a vicar, also in episode six).[9] Bremner, known more for satire than acting, has joked that he played the vicar "as" Michael Howard and Rowan Williams and that his character's name was "Jane", due to an error in the script.[4] Wilson returned for the second series, which also includes roles by Lucy Benjamin and Richard Briers, and Diana Quick. Local residents appear as background extras and in crowd scenes.[10] Guest stars confirmed for the third series include Pippa Haywood, James and Oliver Phelps,[11] June Whitfield, Peter Sallis, Colin Baker, Sandi Toksvig, Jack Dee, Miriam Margolyes, Adrian Scarborough, Sophie Winkleman, Anna Massey and Jaye Griffiths.[12]

Production[edit]

Filming of the second series outside Oakleigh House in 2007

Wheeler spent two years developing the idea for the series before filming began in 2006 and proposed the Peter character as "helping people more than doing the law".[4] The series was originally to be based around a probate solicitor, with the title Where There's a Will. Stephen Fry disapproved of the title and raised the point that it would be difficult to produce six scripts featuring his character dealing with probate issues.[3] A series of six episodes was announced in June 2006.[2]

The series is primarily a vehicle for Fry, and was his first television drama series for ITV since the conclusion of Jeeves and Wooster in 1993.[3] Most of the main cast had worked with Fry before: Slattery had been in Footlights with Fry, and he and Law appeared with him in Peter's Friends; Imrie appeared in Gormenghast though the two did not share any scenes. Already being acquainted allowed the cast to appear more relaxed in front of the camera.[3] Norris had not made any appearances with the rest of the cast beyond a credit with Imrie in Hospital!, a one-off Channel 5 comedy. However she is married to Wheeler, and he had previously written for Wire in the Blood, in which she formerly starred. She took the role as a change of pace from the "ice maiden" characters she often portrays.[13]

Hermione Norris on location during filming of series three

Location filming is primarily based in Swaffham. Filming of the first series began on 10 July 2006 and was scheduled for 12 weeks. Shooting also took place in nearby Hunstanton, Holkham, Thetford[14] and Dereham.[15] Beach and harbour scenes were shot at Wells, as well as the Lifeboat station being used for that of Market Shipborough.[4] Fry recommended Swaffham to the producers, citing market towns as "more revealing of what Britain is like than a city is."[3] Locations used within Swaffham include Oakleigh House (as the offices of Kingdom and Kingdom) and the Greyhound pub (renamed "The Startled Duck"), among others.[16] The producers noted that Oakleigh House was ideal for the offices as there was an "authenticity" of opening the door straight onto the market square, instead of a transition from studio to location footage.[4]

First-series scenes featuring Fry driving an Alvis TE 21[17] were placed in jeopardy when the actor was caught speeding in May 2006. His counsel successfully postponed the hearing until December, allowing filming to resume unaffected (Fry was eventually banned from driving for six months).[18] The first two episodes were directed by Robin Sheppard, the third and fourth by Metin Hüseyin and the final two by Sandy Johnson. A making-of special was filmed for the ITV3 Behind the Scenes strand and was broadcast on 27 May 2007, immediately following the end of episode six on ITV.[19]

Filming of the second series was scheduled in two blocks: the first—directed by Andrew Grieve—ran from 2 July to 11 August and the second—directed by Edward Hall—from 20 August to 29 September. Shooting was again based in Swaffham.[20] Norris took a break from filming in August to give birth to her daughter, returning to the set to complete her scenes in September.[21]

Series 3 commenced filming in July 2008.[8] Scenes were filmed on Holkham beach featuring the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, who have been based in nearby Watton.[22] During September, scenes set in Stockport, Greater Manchester were filmed in Kings Lynn and Halifax. Shooting concluded at the end of the month.[11] Edward Hall returned to direct three episodes.[23]

Reception[edit]

The Swaffham town sign, depicting the Pedlar of Swaffham, is altered to show "the Tinker of Market Shipborough". The filming of Kingdom in Swaffham has had a positive effect on the local economy.

In a preview, Radio Times described it as "Sunday night television at its cosiest", though called the plot of episode one "feeble".[24] Comments by The Stage echoed this, calling the storyline a "run of the mill affair", but praised the locations and referred to the series as a whole as "nice".[25] Following the broadcast of the first episode The Guardian wrote that the series "slips down as smoothly as a pint of Adnams" and (with tongue in cheek) welcomed it as a change from "loutish" Michael Kitchen in "relentlessly vulgar" fellow Sunday-night drama Foyle's War.[26] The Times had a negative view, awarding the episode one star out of five and criticising Stephen Fry for "playing Stephen Fry". The casting of the other characters was also criticised, though the costuming was wryly praised.[27]

The programme received some criticism in Norfolk for its inaccurate depiction of local accents. Local journalist and broadcaster Keith Skipper told the Eastern Daily Press: "If they are going to set these dramas in a specific location with locals and extras surely they should get the accent right otherwise it is self defeating."[28] An ITV spokesman told the paper: "We hired a professional dialect coach to help the actors achieve their Norfolk accent. The Norfolk accent is different in one area of Norfolk to another. What we are trying to achieve is something that resembles a Norfolk accent that cannot be pinned down."[28] However, he failed to identify any area of Norfolk in which the accent contains a Mummerset "r".

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade was pleased with the series, describing it at a conference in June 2007 as having "done well for [ITV]" in the prestigious 9 p.m. slot.[29]

Following Simon's reappearance in the second series, a writer on The Herald expressed disappointment that the air of mystery had gone from the programme; "As the sage and saintly Peter, Stephen Fry no longer has any great detective-style fraternal conundrum to unravel, or agonise over."[30] The fifth episode of Series 2 won the 9 p.m. slot with 5.4 million viewers and a 22% audience share, beating the BAFTA coverage on BBC One.[31] The series has been compared to Doc Martin, another ITV series featuring a professional working in a rural town.[32]

The ratings for the first episode of Series 3 were affected by a scheduling clash with the finale of The Apprentice on BBC One; the episode had 4.95 million viewers and a 19.1% audience share.[33]

"The Kingdom effect"[edit]

Filming of the series in Swaffham and surrounding areas has given a boost to the local economy, dubbed "the Kingdom effect" by producer Georgina Lowe. Businesses have capitalised on the popularity of the series by offering guided tours of featured locations, as well as tourist merchandise such as "Kingdom rock" and postcards.[34] Lowe gave a lecture to Swaffham's Iceni Partnership in 2007, in which she explained that the production team used local businesses "for everything from equipment and scaffold rental to buying props, costumes, food and drink". By the end of the filming the second series, Parallel Productions had invested approximately £2.5 million into the local economy.[35]

Ratings[edit]

Series 1[edit]

DateEpisodeViewers
(millions)[36]
22 April 200718.55
29 April 200727.05
6 May 200735.44
13 May 200745.89
20 May 200756.31
27 May 200766.28

Series 2[edit]

DateEpisodeViewers
(millions)
13 January 200815.80
20 January 200826.16
27 January 200835.41
3 February 200845.23
10 February 200855.65
17 February 200865.69

Series 3[edit]

DateEpisodeViewers
(millions)
7 June 200915.32
14 June 200924.70
21 June 200934.76
28 June 200945.10
5 July 200954.94
12 July 200965.14

Series information[edit]

Broadcast history[edit]

The first series aired on the ITV network in the UK at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights from 22 April to 27 May 2007. The second series was commissioned before the first episode was broadcast. It was filmed from July to September 2007 and broadcast from January to February 2008.[9] The third series was commissioned in March 2008[37] and began broadcast on 7 June 2009.[38] STV decided not to broadcast series 3.

International distribution rights were bought by Portman Film and Television, which sold the series to 14 international networks by February 2007. Seven regional European Hallmark Channels broadcast it, with other showings on NRK in Norway, RÚV in Iceland, YLE in Finland, Rai Tre in Italy[39] and één in Flanders. The Australian rights were picked up by the Seven Network, although the ABC aired seasons 1 and 2 in 2011 and season 3 late in 2012, with TVNZ buying it for New Zealand.[40] The programme aired in the United States on some PBS affiliates in early 2008. A wider syndication deal was struck with American Public Television later that year for the first two series to be available to all affiliates, and other public stations; the third season begins distribution on 1 December 2009.[41] In Canada, the first and second series are being broadcast this year, (April–June, 2010), on the Vision TV network. The third series premièred on the Flemish channel één on 10 April 2009.[42]

DVD releases[edit]

The first series was released by 2 Entertain Video on 28 May 2007 and includes the ITV3 Behind the Scenes special.[43] 2 Entertain holds the worldwide rights to the DVD release in 2007.[40] The complete second series was released on six DVDs in The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph between 1 and 7 March 2008 and was also generally released from the 15th of June 2009.

Digital release[edit]

In August 2009, the six episodes of the first season were released in the United States on Hulu,[44] as part of Hulu's partnership with ITV.[45] All series of Kingdom are also available in the UK on the internet TV service SeeSaw [46] which launched on 17 February 2010[47] As of 2011, it is available on Netflix streaming video. From June 2012, it is also available on lovefilm.

Music[edit]

A soundtrack album featuring the original music from the series, composed and conducted by Mark Russell was released on the 15th of June 2009 and is only available through the iTunes Store at the moment. The album mainly contains music from the third series although some of it has been used earlier in the series.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steve Busfield (2009-10-09). "ITV axes Stephen Fry's Kingdom". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  2. ^ a b Welsh, James (2006-07-01). "Stephen Fry to star in new ITV drama". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Benji (21–27 April 2007). "Home and Fry". Radio Times. pp. 14–16. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hopewell, Tim (director) (2007). Kingdom: Behind the Scenes (Documentary). ITV3. 
  5. ^ Padman, Tony (2007-05-30). "Phyllida enjoys home comforts in her West Hampstead kingdom". Ham and High: Wood and Vale edition. Retrieved 2007-06-16. [dead link]
  6. ^ Staff (2008-09-19). "Norfolk twins star in Kingdom TV show". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  7. ^ McClure, Richard (21–27 April 2007). "Local hero". What's on TV. p. 13. 
  8. ^ a b "Stephen Fry returns to his Kingdom". What's on TV. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  9. ^ a b Oatts, Joanne (2007-03-15). "Fry's 'Kingdom' gets second series". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  10. ^ Last, Mike (2008-01-11). "Kingdom come back for Swaffham". Lynn News. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  11. ^ a b Last, Mike (2008-09-12). "Kingdom comes to South Lynn". Lynn News. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  12. ^ Sheperd, James (15 May 2009). "Stephen Fry Back For A New Series Of Kingdom". Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  13. ^ Wylie, Ian (2007-05-02). "Why star still gets Cold Feet over bedroom scenes". Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  14. ^ Staff writer (2006-07-01). "Filming to start soon on Fry's TV series". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  15. ^ Staff writer (2006-09-02). "Fry film crew gets stuck on sandbank". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  16. ^ Staff (2006-07-23). "Welcome to make-believe world of television". Lynn News. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  17. ^ The Alvis used in the first two series had previously appeared on several Autocar covers and was auctioned following completion of the second series. The car was sold for £52,100. "Lot 308: 1965 Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupe - From the TV series, 'Kingdom' starring Stephen Fry". Motorbase. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  18. ^ Staff writer (2007-12-16). "Stephen Fry banned from driving". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  19. ^ Shepherd, Rob (2007-03-20). "ITV3 orders doc on Kingdom drama". Broadcastnow. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  20. ^ Staff writer (2007-06-20). "Swaffham braced for second TV series". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  21. ^ Staff (2007-08-31). "Cold Feet actress has baby girl". BBC News Online. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  22. ^ Staff (2008-07-17). "Actress films with household cavalry on Norfolk beach". Norwich Evening News. 
  23. ^ Green, Michael (21 January 2009). "All-male Propeller bring two Shakespeare classics to Liverpool Playhouse". Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  24. ^ Butcher, David (21–27 April 2007). "Today's Choices". Radio Times. p. 68. 
  25. ^ Wright, Mark (2007-04-17). "First Look: Kingdom". The Stage. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  26. ^ Mangan, Lucy (2007-04-23). "The weekend's TV". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  27. ^ Billen, Andrew (2007-04-23). "The weekend's TV". The Times (London). Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  28. ^ a b Staff (2007-04-24). "TV show accents anger aficionados". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  29. ^ Rogers, Jon (2007-06-15). "Grade facing challenge at 9pm". Broadcastnow. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  30. ^ Belcher, David (2008-01-28). "This Kingdom’s capital is Woolly Piffle". The Herald (Newsquest (Herald and Times)). Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  31. ^ Deans, Jason (2008-02-10). "Bafta fails to win over viewers". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  32. ^ Brown, David (2008-09-04). "Kingdom v Doc Martin". Radio Times blogs. Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  33. ^ French, Dan (8 June 2009). "'Apprentice' finale peaks with 10.6m". Digital Spy. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  34. ^ Wilson, Benji (12–18 January 2008). "Kingdom country". Radio Times. p. 22. 
  35. ^ Heath, Nick (2007-07-19). "Kingdom is a money-spinner for Swaffham". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  36. ^ http://www.barb.co.uk/
  37. ^ West, Dave (2008-03-26). "'Kingdom', 'Wild at Heart' to return". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  38. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2009-04-23). "EXCLUSIVE: Fry talks 'Alice In Wonderland'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  39. ^ http://www.telefilmraitre.rai.it/dl/portali/site/articolo/ContentItem-e1307768-bdf4-4fd7-b899-699934996c49.html
  40. ^ a b Rogers, Jessica (2007-02-01). "Portman sells Fry drama to 14 territories". Broadcastnow. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  41. ^ Staff (2008-10-08). "Hi y'awl, the name's Kingdom!". Watton and Swaffham Times. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  42. ^ "Kingdom: Deze week". een. 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  43. ^ Shepherd, Robert John (2007-05-29). "Region 2 Out This Week". DVD Reviewer. Retrieved 2007-06-12. 
  44. ^ "Kingdom". Hulu.com. 
  45. ^ Andrews, Amanda (2009-07-25). "Hulu in talks with ITV for UK start". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  46. ^ "Kingdom". seesaw.com. 
  47. ^ Barnett, Emma (2010-02-14). "SeeSaw chief executive looks forward to launch". London: telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 

External links[edit]

Related websites