Stretching from 1848, the "year of revolutions", to the end of the First World War seventy years later, this extremely ambitious series showed the BBC Drama Department at its finest. The once-secure monarchies of central and eastern Europe slowly disintegrate in front of us, and it's hard, if not impossible, to feel that they didn't deserve it; but if there's no sentimentality about royalty, there's also a pretty hard-eyed look at what was to follow these pompous anachronisms. In an all-star cast, there are stand-out performances from Patrick Stewart as Lenin, Curt Jurgens as Bismarck and Freddie Jones as Count Witte, as well as several future stars in smaller roles - Michael Kitchen, Tom Conti, John Rhys-Davies and Miriam Margolyes amongst them.
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