The Duchess

The Duchess

Saul Dibb (2008)

12 Certificate
Wed 25 Dec 10:10pm - 11:55pm BBC Four


Our Score
Much has been made of the parallels between the lives of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), and her descendant Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. Both were young newlyweds when they entered high society, and both were required to please a devoted public and a cheating husband. Thankfully, this historical drama is not a frivolous adaptation of the bestselling biography by Amanda Foreman, and Keira Knightley - as well as having the air of an English rose - displays great dignity in portraying Georgiana's frustration with her lot. Still, it's disappointing that Saul Dibb (who directed Bullet Boy) only skims the surface of the lady's political life. This movie is a study of a conventional romantic heroine and the intrigues that compromised her marriage, rather than an examination of a woman whose radical views encouraged her to actively campaign for the government opposition (and led to an affair with future Prime Minister Charles Grey). Unfortunately, this approach also results in Ralph Fiennes, as her philandering husband, coming across as something of a pantomime villain.


Fact-based period drama, chronicling the life of Georgiana Spencer who became Duchess of Devonshire in 1774 at the age of 17. Adored by the public for her extravagant lifestyle, Spencer endured a troubled marriage and was eventually driven into the arms of Charles Grey, a senior Whig politician. Starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper and Charlotte Rampling.

Cast & Crew

Georgiana Keira Knightley
The Duke Ralph Fiennes
Charles Grey Dominic Cooper
Lady Spencer Charlotte Rampling
Bess Foster Hayley Atwell
Charles Fox Simon McBurney
Richard Sheridan Aidan McArdle
General Grey John Shrapnel
Heaton Alistair Petrie
Director Saul Dibb
Executive Producer Amanda Foreman
Executive Producer Carolyn Marks-Blackwood
Executive Producer Francois Ivernel
Executive Producer Christine Langan
Executive Producer Cameron McCracken
Executive Producer David M Thompson
Producer Michael Kuhn
Producer Gabrielle Tana
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: PathéGuidance: Sex scenes, brief nudityAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 5 Sep 2008