Britain in Colour


Series 1 - Episode 1 Royalty

Sunday 7pm - 8pm Smithsonian
See Repeats
Tue 4 Feb, 9pm - 10pm Smithsonian
Wed 5 Feb, 12am - 1am Smithsonian
Wed 5 Feb, 3am - 4am Smithsonian
Wed 5 Feb, 10am - 11am Smithsonian
Wed 5 Feb, 4pm - 5pm Smithsonian


Last year, Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old proved the humanising effect of colourising old news footage. Now the same approach has been brought to a history of our shores over the past century. This first episode focuses on the royal family, beginning with a frail Queen Victoria being wheeled around Balmoral in a small carriage by John Brown, flanked by Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra, one of Victoria’s 33 surviving grandchildren.

What follows is a whistle-stop tour of royal life – we see Edward VIII cutting a dash as a prince in the States, and the Queen chewing her lip on her engagement in 1947. There’s not much new for royal-watchers, but it’s fascinating to note how the royals’ attitude to the cameras changed over the decades.


Historic film, now colourised, creates a vivid portrait of the royal family from the late 19th century. It includes the earliest film of Queen Victoria, and Edward and Wallis Simpson marrying in exile.