The Aristocrats

Episode 1. The Aristocrats: Blenheim Palace

The Aristocrats: Blenheim Palace
Radio Times
Review by:
Alison Graham

James Spencer-Churchill, the Marquess of Blandford, his features smudged by years of dissipation and drug abuse, earnestly tells documentary-maker Patrick Forbes: “I will try to be as good a custodian as I can be of this place.”

‘’This place” is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Jamie Blandford was once
a tabloid staple, the classic toff-gone-off-the-rails. By the mid-1990s he had
a 20-year drug habit, a jail sentence and various fines. He was such a mess that in 1994 his father, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, went to court to try to disinherit his troublesome son. It was a bitter battle, though the years have softened relations between the pair, who are now reconciled.

But this difficult piece of family history is only a backdrop to a standard, behind-the-scenes-at-a-big-house film, as we see the effects of a wash-out summer, and visits by strangely camera-shy local MP David Cameron.

About this programme

Two-part documentary exploring modern-day high society, with access to the daily lives of aristocratic families. The first edition follows 86-year-old John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough, and 56-year-old Jamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, offering an insight into one of the most famous father-and-son relationships in Britain. Having beaten his drug addiction, Jamie is back living at Blenheim, hoping to prove he is fit to take on the running of the estate, which attracts 500,000 visitors annually.

Cast and crew


Patrick Forbes
Executive Producer
Nick Kent