The incredible story of Rupert Murdoch’s influence on world events and the dramatic personal battle for power is being explored in new BBC documentary The Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty.
The first episode aired, titled “Kingmaker”, aired on July 14th, and looked at the media mogul’s life in 1995 – a pivotal year which saw him presiding over two important dilemmas – who he wanted to be Britain’s next prime minister and which of his children he wanted to take over his business.
Over he next two episodes, viewers will be introduced to various figures from Rupert’s multiple ex-wives, children and people he has been linked to over the years.
Here’s everything you need to know about the media tycoon’s life and all the people who feature heavily in the three-part show.
Who is Rupert Murdoch?
Rupert Murdoch is a media mogul, who is best known for being the chairman and CEO of News Corporation from 1980 t0 2013.
Described as an “enigma” by the BBC, Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times, Fox News and numerous other media outlets across the world and yet his story is rarely told.
On 21 July 2012, Rupert – who has an estimated net worth of $16.3bn (£12bn) – resigned as a director of News International, and in 2015, he left his post as CEO of 21st Century Fox.
However, Rupert and his family would continue to own both 21st Century Fox until 2019 and News Corp through the Murdoch Family Trust until 20th Century Fox itself was purchased by Disney.
The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty is a story of “family, money and power”.
Who is Rupert Murdoch married to?
The 89-year-old has been married four times, and has six children and 13 grandchildren in total.
His first marriage was to flight attendant Patricia Brooker in 1956. The couple had one child, Prudence, in 1958 and divorced in 1967.
Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch, Anna Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch in the 1980s (BBC) BBC/72 Films/Shutterstock
Anna Maria Mann
The same year he divorced Patricia, Murdoch married journalist and novelist Anna Torv (now Mann). Patricia was born in Scotland and is 13 years Murdoch’s junior.
Mann and Murdoch had three children together while they were married: Elisabeth Murdoch (born 1968), Lachlan Murdoch (born 1971), and James Murdoch, (born 1972).
The couple divorced in 1999, and six months later, Mann married financier William Mann – who she’s still in a relationship with.
Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng wedding in 1999 (BBC) BBC
Following his divorce from Mann, Murdoch married Chinese-born American entrepreneur and media mogul Wendi Deng 17 days later.
Deng is 37 years his junior and their marriage lasted until 2013.
During their relationship, they had two children together: Grace (born 2001) and Chloe (born 2003).
Actor Jerry Hall, 67, is Murdoch’s current wife. Their engagement was announced four months after their relationship was made public. They got married in 2016. The pair don’t share any children.
Rupert and Jerry Hall in 2015 (BBC) BBC
Rupert Murdoch’s children
The media executive, 62, is Rupert Murdoch’s first child. She has held several directorial roles in her father’s News Corporation, and is currently a board member of Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News Corporation.
She was previously described by Vanity Fair as “the the only one of [Murdoch’s] children not directly competing for his business affections”.
She is said to have an estimated fortune of $3.1bn. (£2.4bn).
The second daughter of Rupert Murdoch, Elisabeth, 51, was a non-executive chairperson of Shine Group, the UK-based TV programme production company she founded in 2001.
In 2015, however, the company’s parent, her father’s 21st Century Fox, merged its Shine division with ApolloGlobal Management’s Endemol and Core Media production houses, specialising in reality TV.
Rupert and his daughter Elisabeth in 2005 (BBC) BBC pictures
Lachlan, 48, is the oldest son of Rupert Murdoch. In 1989, Rupert Murdoch brought Lachlan then 18 years old, to Australia while on business, to have Lachlan trained for three months at the Daily Mirror. At the age of 22, Lachlan was appointed general manager of Queensland Newspapers, the publisher of Brisbane’s Courier-Mail.
One year later, he became publisher of Australia’s first national paper, The Australian. In 1995 he was appointed Deputy CEO of News Limited, Executive Director of News Corporation in 1996, Deputy Chief Operating Officer in 2000; he was made Senior Executive Vice President from 1999 to 2000, and has been Chairman of STAR since 1995.
Lachlan appeared the most likely contender to run his father’s empire, before he resigned from his executive posts in 2005.
James, 47, is he younger son of Rupert Murdoch, and was the chief executive officer (CEO) of 21st Century Fox from 2015 to 2019.
Lachlan Murdoch, James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch, Anna Murdoch 1980s
(Getty Images) Getty Images
The 19-year-old is Rupert’s fourth child from his marriage to Wendi Deng. In 2017, it was reported that Grace and her younger sister Chloe were to become the youngest billionaires in the world after the Fox-Disney deal.
Each of Rupert’s children were set to receive at least $2bn from the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney, making two of them the new world’s youngest billionaires.
Chloe, 17, is the youngest of Rupert’s children. Last year, she was pictured with her father, sister and mother at a New York charity event. She was also seen with her step-sister, model Georgia May Jagger, for the first time since her dad married Georgia’s mother Jerry Hall.
Rupert with daughters Chloe and Grace, and ex wife Wendi (Getty Images) Getty Images
Who features in The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty?
Throughout the episodes, audiences will be taken through the relationship between Rupert and other leaders in the political sphere. For over 40 years, no British Prime Minister has won an election without enjoying the support of Rupert Murdoch.
His business empire is global, so huge that he is credited with revolutionising journalism, technology and news, and even helping Donald Trump become US President.
Kicking off in 1995, the documentary sees a young Tony Blair jetting halfway around the world to visit Murdoch.
Blair goes in search of Murdoch’s support to become Britain’s next prime minister.
After this, the pair’s relationship takes various turns and this story sheds light on how Murdoch uses his powerful connections.
News UK CEO Rebekah Brooks and Tony Blair at the Newspaper Press Fund 40th Anniversary, 2004. BBC
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon explains how Ivanka Trump set up lunch for Donald Trump to seek Rupert Murdoch’s support in his bid for the US presidency, but Murdoch was discouraging.
Episode two of the series, titled The Rebel Alliance, focuses on the phone-hacking scandal which rocked the mogul’s News International empire between 2009 and 2011.
The ex-Formula 1 boss successfully sued the News of the World after it published a false story about his private life.
In 2008, a judge ruled there was no substance to the report which, Mr Mosley tells the programme was “completely invented” by the publication.
Former News Corporation employee Piers features as a talking head in the three-part series.
In January 1994, he became editor of the News of the World after being appointed to the job by Rupert Murdoch. Initially an acting editor, he was confirmed in the summer, becoming at 29 the youngest national newspaper editor in more than half a century.
Another one of the talking heads in the series is Brexit party leader Nigel Farage who speaks about his relationship with Murdoch.
He says: “To be honest, I did ask him [Rupert Murdoch] if whether I should do this and he said, ‘Yes, do it,’ and if he’d have said ‘no’ I wouldn’t have done it and I think historically some of this stuff is really important…’”
Among the high-profile names who appear on the show is business mogul, Lord Alan Sugar, who backs Murdoch to the highest decree.
“Who do I admire?” he asks in the opening moments of the first episode. “Who would I look up to? Certainly, Rupert Murdoch comes top of the tree. Simply because of his swashbuckling ways of doing things – just get on with it.”
The former Labour deputy leader also features in the series, and claims Murdoch’s business held more power than many will have been aware of.
The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty continues on BBC Two on July 21st at 9pm. To see what else is on, have a look at our TV Guide.