King George & Queen Mary: The Royals Who Rescued the Monarchy

King George V

Series 1 - Episode 1 King George V



“With the economy reeling from financial meltdown in the banking system, massive cuts in government spending seemed the only way forward,” purrs Sam West on the narration of this excellent profile of King George V. He’s talking about the National Government in 1931, but we know what he’s really talking about.

It’s not the only time George’s story carries shades of later events. Again and again it feels like a loaded back story to present dramas. It’s hard to connect this stern, stamp-collecting disciplinarian with the image of George that keeps staring at us from the screen. But the details of his life (saddled with a crown he didn’t want and with his dead brother’s fiancée; forced to re-invent his dynasty) flesh out the portrait beautifully.


The first of two documentaries providing an insight into the lives of George V and Queen Mary, revealing their lasting influence on Britain's monarchy. The opening film focuses on King George, highlighting how a Victorian-age conservative ended up becoming an unlikely moderniser. The outbreak of the First World War prompted George to reconsider the solidarity of Europe's royal families, leading him to create the House of Windsor and embrace democratic reform. The programme also explores his strained relationship with his children, and the contrasting kinship he found with his granddaughter Princess Elizabeth.

Cast & Crew

Executive Producer Denys Blakeway
Producer Robert Coldstream