On August 12, 1915, a company of volunteers from the Royal Family's Norfolk estate advanced into withering gunfire during the Gallipoli campaign and were never seen again. Eyewitnesses spoke of a strange mist that embraced the men and carried them heavenward to safety. For over eighty years, the true fate of this doomed battalion has been the subject of speculation and mystery.
All the King's Men extends from the idyllic country estate they left behind at Sandringham to the horrific battlefield at Gallipoli in Turkey, where British, Australian, and New Zealand troops met disaster in an ill-conceived invasion during World War I.
David Jason (A Touch of Frost) stars as Captain Frank Beck, the King's manager at Sandringham and commanding officer of the home guard of servants, grooms, and gardeners, who saw their first -- and last -- action at Gallipoli.
Maggie Smith (David Copperfield, Room With a View) plays Queen Alexandra, mother to the reigning monarch George V, matriarch of the tight-knit Sandringham community and the driving force behind the investigation into the real fate of the battalion.
Also starring are David Troughton (Cider With Rosie) as King George V; Patrick Malahide (Middlemarch) as battalion doctor Captain Claude Howlett; and Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Great Expectations) as the Reverend Pierrepont Edwards, the royal envoy who stumbles onto the truth about the lost men -- and keeps it secret.
All the King's Men is based on a book by the film's co-producer, Nigel McCrery. A former police officer, McCrery investigated royal records to solve what Winston Churchill called in 1919 "without doubt the greatest unsolved mystery of this century."
"Their story is a microcosm for the whole of the first World War," McCrery says. "Like so many who fought in the war, they left this peaceful community to fight for God, King, Country and the freedom of the world. What was particularly poignant about them was that they knew the King and he in turn regarded them as part of his family."
Of his role as Captain Beck, David Jason notes: "Frank Beck had a great sense of honor, loyalty, and duty. Even though the King had ordered him to stay at home, on the grounds that he was too old to fight, Beck would not allow his young soldiers to go to war without him."
All the King's Men was filmed at Sandringham, on the same grounds where the men of the Sandringham Company lived and worked. The extensive battle scenes were shot in Andalucia in southern Spain.
All the King's Men originally aired on February 20, 2000
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