Quite simply, one of the best BBC Classic TV Miniseries ever produced. Filmed in 1978 and to be released in a four-disc DVD set, the miniseries stars the brilliant Francesca Annis (Tommy and Tuppence, etc.) as Lillie Langtry, one of the most famous and infamous courtesans/ladies of the Victorian age.
In an era when women were to be seen and not heard, the unforgettable Lillie broke every taboo without a backward glance. The series chronicles her long life, and in so doing presents one of the best portraits of Victorian England ever filmed.
We watch Lillie as a young tomboy, grow to an awkward adolescent, a stunning woman, and a beautiful old woman. Each stage of her life is portrayed perfectly by Annis, the makeup transforming her body while her awesome talent transforms her character development as Lillie.
Lillie is one-of-a-kind, a calculating woman of immense presence, grace and substance. Unfortunately, she becomes trapped in a loveless marriage, but she devises her own way to cope.
Taking full advantage of her beauty, Lillie deliberately attracts as many as a dozen lovers and admirers including the married Prince of Wales and notorious Oscar Wilde.
As her husband slowly drinks himself to death, she relies on her looks, wiles and self-assurance in the London Society of the 1870s to embark upon a sensational career as a marginally talented actress.
With guile, Lillie creates a truly unique life of the courtesan, eventually gaining prestige by going on the stage and touring America many times over.
Throughout her life she endures financial ruin and scandal, yet maintains her celebrated lifestyle. Because Lillie lives to be a very old woman, viewers are given an honest glimpse of the Victoria Era through the span of her life.
As with every BBC miniseries dealing with period stories, the acting, staging, filming and music is all well above top notch.