Welcome To The Anglophile Channel

Welcome To The Anglophile Channel


If you love Britain then you’ll love The Anglophile Channel, an award-winning new-media entertainment network dedicated exclusively to celebrating and promoting British entertainment, arts & culture!  Producing exciting original content, celebrity interviews, cultural pieces and entertainment coverage streamed to MILLIONS of Anglophile fans in 45+ countries worldwide! 

Anglophiles around the world have discovered a place where they can share in their passion and love for all things Britannia. Join the Anglophile party! 

We have been featured on the following networks:


Join us as we travel to Windsor, England for the Anglophile event of the year: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding! 

BBC joined us at Rose Tree Cottage to talk all things Tea & Royal Wedding! Stay tuned for the coverage!



(Whoever THEY are….)


Thank You To Our Featured Sponsors:

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The Bee’s Knees British Imports is so excited about The Royal Wedding and are thrilled to have several commemorative items for sale on their website!

TAC Fans receive 15% off! Use Code: ROYALWEDDING15


The Bee’s Knees is a small online company run by Lucinda Sears and Donna Biscotti. Driven by their shared English background they love bringing a taste of Britain across the pond to their British and Anglophile customers in the US and beyond. British made items not readily available in the US include Emma Bridgewater, Burleigh and Dunoon, Victoria Eggs and more!

From collectible mugs, commemorative tea towels to English Bone China mugs…Bee’s Knees has all your Royal Wedding collectibles in one place! Did you start your collection of Royal memorabilia yet? Take a look at all they have to offer at: The Bees Knees British Imports    15% DISCOUNT! Use Code: ROYALWEDDING15


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Follow The Bee’s Knees on Twitter @TheBeesKnees11 Facebook @TheBeesKneesBritishImports and Instagram beesknees_british_imports

British-owned The Whale and Ale English Restaurant and Pub is fashioned in the classic English Victorian Style. The oak panels, brass fittings and overall ambiance make you feel like you’ve crossed the pond. Located in the heart of Los Angeles Harbor, Whale and Ale is a vibrant & exciting place that serves award-winning pub fare including their famous Fish n Chips (Awarded Best in LA!), Shepherd’s Pie, and more!


Located at: 327 West 7th Street  San Pedro, CA (310) 832-0362  | Visit The Whale and Ale at: https://www.whaleandale.com for more information.

TAC Audience receive 15% off Mon-Thurs by mentioning The Anglophile Channel!

For reservations visit: Whale and Ale Reservations  | Upcoming Events: MOTHER’S DAY (MAY 13) and ROYAL WEDDING VIEWING PARTY! (MAY 19TH!)


Follow Whale and Ale on Twitter @whaleandale  and Facebook @TheWhaleandAle


Royal Wedding fever is catching on and Quaintly & Co has the most exciting offerings yet to fill our Anglophile needs! Orders are NOW opened for they Royal Wedding themed box! What fabulous British-made items might we find to help us celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding! Also offered: A Royal Wedding Tea Party kit and Royal Baby box. Subscribe to their monthly boxes or order a single box! Ships worldwide! These will sell out fast! To order visit: Quaintly & Co.’s Royal Wedding Boxes

USE CODE: TACAPRIL to receive a FREE gift with your Quaintly & Co order!



Follow Quaintly & Co on TWITTER @QuaintlyUK FACEBOOK @LoveBritishLifeStyle  and Instagram LoveBritishLifestyle


Proud Partner of The Anglophile Channel


Voted #1 Tea House in America! Best Afternoon Tea in Los Angeles!

Authentic British Afternoon Tea served in a timeless setting.

For an unforgettable tea experience visit:  Rose Tree Cottage



The Anglophile Channel CONGRATULATES
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Their Engagement!

Join The Anglophile Channel as we cover all the exciting festivities leading up to the Royal Wedding, LIVE from Windsor! We’ll be perched in a great spot at The Harte & Garter Hotel situated perfectly across from Windsor Castle and all the royal wedding fun! Don’t miss our coverage on The Anglophile Channel on YouTube, LIKE us on Facebook @TheAnglophileChannel and on Twitter @AnglophileTV!  


What is the COOLEST Royal Wedding Merchandise? We’ll be sharing our TOP FAVORITE Royal Wedding collectibles and goodies on TAC! PLUS an exclusive Royal Wedding FAN GIVEAWAY! Stay tuned!


Marlise’s Sense and SensibiliTeas

Afternoon Tea Catering | NOW Accepting Bookings!

Visit Our Page: Sense and SensibiliTeas Afternoon Tea Catering


Do you LOVE The Anglophile Channel? Become A TAC Supporter Here: 


The Anglophile Channel Awards Return in 2018! Who will be our next honorees?



Award-Winning Anglophile Channel Team





*2016 Los Angeles Press Club – National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award, 2016 SoCal Journalism Award and 2015 NAEJ Award*


2016 BEST BROADCAST CRITICS : Marlise Boland & Elyse Ashton – “OutlandDish”

2016 BEST POP FEATURE: Juliette Boland – “Timey Wimey Fandom Show”

2016 BEST ANCHOR- TELEVISION: Paul Boland and Kelly Monteith – “BRIT FLIX: Kelly, Paul and [Two Buck] Chuck”

2015 BEST ENTERTAINMENT REPORTING: Juliette Boland – “The Timey Wimey Show”


The Anglophile Channel team honored at 2016 LA Press Club SoCal Journalism Awards

Best Entertainment Reporting – Juliette Boland/”The Timey Wimey Show”


2015 NAEJ Awards – Best Entertainment Reporting, Juliette Boland’s Timey Wimey Show (Pictured with NBC News Anchor, Robert Kovacik)

Nominations and Awards

2017 LA Press Club Southern California Journalism Awards

Best Anchor/Hosts: The Dish Shows with Marlise & Elyse (3rd Place), “Brit Flix with Kelly, Paul and (Two Buck) Chuck” (Nominated)


2016 National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards: Best Broadcast Critics (WINNER: Marlise Boland & Elyse Ashton – “OutlandDish”), Best Pop Culture Feature (WINNER: Juliette Boland, “The Timey Wimey Fandom Show”), Best Entertainment Feature – Over 5min (3rd Place: Marlise Boland, Paul Boland and Elyse Ashton – “The Downton Dish: A Farewell to Downton Abbey”)


2016 LA Press Club SoCal Journalism Awards: Best Anchor -Television: (WINNER: Paul Boland and Kelly Monteith –  Brit Flix with Kelly, Paul and [Two Buck] Chuck) Best Anchor-Television: (3rd Place: Marlise Boland & Elyse Ashton – “The Dish Shows”), Best Entertainment Commentary – (Finalist: Brit Flix with Kelly, Paul and (Two Buck) Chuck),  Best Entertainment Reporting (Youth Journalism) – (3rd Place: Juliette Boland, The Timey Wimey Show – The Doctor Who Interviews)


2015 National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards: Best Arts & Entertainment Feature (WINNER: Juliette Boland, The Timey Wimey Show), Journalist of the Year (Finalist: Marlise Boland), Best Broadcast Critics (Finalist: Paul Boland & Kelly Monteith – BritFlix with Kelly, Paul and [Two Buck] Chuck), Best Documentary Short (Finalist: Marlise Boland and Paul Boland – “Andrea Galer: Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre and Beyond”), Best Entertainment Feature-Over 5mins (Finalist: Marlise Boland and Paul Boland – “Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday Tribute”)





Posted in Home Page Posts

It’s A Boy For William and Kate!

April 23rd is no longer just the day we celebrate St. George’s Day or William Shakespeare – it is now also the birthdate of the new Prince of Cambridge! 


Kensington Palace made the proclamation that HerRoyal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 1101hrs. The baby weighs 8lbs 7oz. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well. The notice went on to say that The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Camilla and Harry were all informed of the birth.  


Hours later Prince William had collected the new baby’s big brother and sister to come to the hospital to welcome their new sibling. Prince George and Princess Charlotte naturally charmed the world press waiting outside the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital. 


Adorable Prince George, still in his school uniform, and Princess Charlotte arrive St. Mary’s Hospital to welcome their new baby brother! (Photo: DASA)

Prince William then took the kids back to KP and returned to introduce the new Baby Cambridge to the world. Catherine emerged from the Lindo Wing looking beautiful and quite rested for a woman who had just give birth. Clearly glowing, the royal couple held Baby Cambridge – as the world witnessed their beautiful and intimate moment. We love sharing these moment’s in William and Kate’s life. 


And of course, the shot we were all waiting for – a close-up of the new Prince!


The Cambridges are happily back at Kensington Palace.  No word on what the new baby’s name will be but Royal Watchers are already making guesses. Punters are giving the name Arthur the odds on favorite although we think Philip might be a nice way to honor the Duke of Edinburgh.The baby is fifth in line to the throne and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s sixth great-grandchild.

Whatever the little prince’s name, we wish the Cambridge family all the best with much congratulations on the new addition! 

Lady Anglophile, knitting baby booties in blue!




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Royally Fabulous Subscription Boxes by Quaintly & Co.

When I was a young girl I used to go down to a local seaport tourist site which featured a permanently docked old-fashioned paddle river boat that held all sorts of amusement for young visitors. The most alluring deck on the river boat contained a trinket shop which had a huge ‘grab bag’ barrel overflowing with little brown paper-wrapped packages, filled with surprises you’d only get to unveil if you purchased one for fifty cents. The best part was deciding which bag to select and then running outside with your friends to unwrap and compare your swag. The bags usually held small toys, candies and other assorted gems which, to a young kid, seemed like a treasure. The grab bag never disappointed. 


The grab bags of “yon” held such excitement and anticipation.

Today shopping has become less impulsive, with buyers wanting guarantees with their purchases. They want to know what they’re getting ahead of time. Is it worth their hard earned money? None of this grab-bag mentality for today’s consumers. Today we have to try it on, sample it, and take it for a test drive. Gone is the mystery and allurement that the river boat trinket shop held. We’re all responsible adults after all, no longer gambling on the surprises that lie within a grab-bag. However, a fun new shopping trend has recently surfaced – for the adventurous, for those of us who still like living life on the edge. The monthly “subscription” box! (Cue the heavens opening up and angel choir singing.)

The idea behind the subscription box is that each month, for a membership fee, you receive a different “themed” box filled with fun SURPRISE gifts and food items targeted at your interests. I’ve seen ‘subscription boxes’ for every conceivable interest from bath and beauty to fashion, food, candy, gardening, baking, lingerie (yes, lingerie) and more. In the beginning subscription boxes encompassed a rather small market, however now it seems every brand and company has hopped on the subscription box band wagon. 


A subscription box for every taste and interest!

Although the choices seem endless, nothing has caught the eye of this Anglophile more than the British-themed subscription box offerings cleverly brought to you by UK-based Quaintly & Co, which boasts of “Delivering British lifestyle” to your door each month. Quaintly & Co’s gift boxes feature quintessentially British products designed by skilled artisans from all over the Isles. This is not your trinket shop fare that will end up in a tag sale, these are gifts of the highest quality. 


A plethora of British themes sure to please any Anglophile!

Each month the Quaintly & Co. team creates a fun theme, usually coinciding with some exciting event in British pop culture such as The Queen’s birthday, a royal birth, or nods to popular television shows such as Downton Abbey, Outlander and Poldark. 


The Downton Abbey box provides jewelry and tea fit for Lady Mary

Like with my grab bags of yon – the contents are a surprise! The only thing the subscriber knows is what each month’s “theme” is – until it reaches your doorstep and you find yourself tearing open the box like a kid on Christmas morning. And I’m not kidding when I say it feels like a special occasion, because each box is lovingly packed and wrapped to perfection, making you feel like every “Quaintly & Co. Delivery Day” is  your birthday.

The Bard would approveth! (Photo by Rachel Wheeler)

Quaintly offers a couple of different ‘levels’ of membership. A “Classic” box containing at least 3-6 full sized products, and a “The Quintessential Box” which has up to 8 fantastic Brit-centric gifts to share at your next Anglophile show and tell. There is also the option to purchase one box at a time. You can subscribe month-to-month or commit to a 12-month subscription guaranteeing you one full year of Brit-tastic deliveries!

Here is a peek at some of the items Quaintly has offered in the past: 

Nary does a special occasion go by on the British calendar that Quaintly & Co. doesn’t honor it with a unique gift box. The much anticipated Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is no different.


The Royal Wedding Box! We don’t know what’s going to be IN it, but we know it’s going to be royally fabulous!

But Quaintly doesn’t stop at merely one theme for the month, for it has expanded April’s offerings to also include a Royal Wedding Tea Kit – for anyone hosting a Royal Wedding viewing party – and a Royal Baby Set in honor of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s upcoming royal birth.

Quaintly and Co. was founded in the summer of 2016 as a small family run business. Owner, Louise, used to live abroad for work in the Middle East and her sister lived in Japan for 7 years. During their time away, they both missed home terribly and often received little care packages from family and friends. That experience bought about the idea of Quaintly & Co. Today they cater almost exclusively to international customers and British expats who look forward to their gift boxes of British lifestyle items every month. To date, they have sent over 10,000 boxes to customers all around the world. That’s a lot of happy people unwrapping the 21st century version of grab-bags. 

The subscription boxes are suitable for both women and men, and they have become a GREAT gift idea for birthday’s and special occasions! 

The Anglophile Channel will be in in Windsor covering all the excitement leading up to The Royal Wedding, and we are happy to announce that Quaintly & Co. will be supplying the winners of our “Royal Wedding Experience” auction with some exciting Quaintly swag of their own to take home.  In the meantime, orders for the Royal Wedding/Royal Baby boxes close soon. Get yours in before you miss out!  Orders for the Royal Baby box close by April 10th and the Royal Wedding box by April 13th. http://www.quaintly-uk.com

Here are some fun upcoming themes to add to your wishlist: 1940’s Keep Calm and Carry On, The Queen’s Coronation Anniversary Tribute, Harry Potter, British Murder Mystery, The Tudors, and Doctor Who – which I truly hope includes a life-size David Tennant tea towel. 

I don’t know where they find the time but Quaintly & Co have expanded their offerings to also include theme boxes centered around our love for London (London Pop Box) and afternoon tea (The TeaTime Box).

I’d really like to thank whoever thought up the idea of the subscription box. It has brought back fond memories of purchasing exciting little grab-bags on the river boat oh so many years ago. On a much royally grander, Brit-tastic scale, of course. 

For more information on Quaintly & Co visit: http://www.quaintly-uk.com

Marlise Boland, Lady Anglophile ~ Always looking for the next Quaintly & Co box in the post! 








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Why An Anglophile Should See “The Death Of Stalin”.

DOS1I see your quizzical brow. But, please, hear me out. This Anglophile was over the moon to attend a special premiere screening of “The Death Of Stalin” at the gloriously ornate Theatre at Ace Hotel last night where a live orchestra performed the Christopher Willis film score.

armando iannucci

Writer and Director Armando Iannucci

Writer and director Armando Iannucci, a native of Glasgow, whose name you may recognize from Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge, The Thick Of It, In The Loop and Veep,  introduced the film, reminding us more than once that although the subject matter is bleak, the film’s title contained both the words “death” and “Stalin” and was set in 1953 Moscow, it was, indeed, a comedy. Iannucci based the script on the graphic novel of the same name. British stars Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs and Andrea Riseborough also attended along with American actor Steve Buscemi. They didn’t look entirely comfortable and, I’m guessing, were waiting to see how the film was received by the crowd.

DOS5They needn’t have worried. This film is dry, dark, intelligently twisted British humour at it’s finest. Rapid, clever zingers are both fired off and thrown away so steadily that I missed quite a few to the laughter.  While I was watching, I knew I’d have to see this film again not only to hear the dialogue which had gotten drowned out, but also after I’d looking up some of these historical characters up because I’m sure to have missed some comic subtleties which might be better appreciated after a little reading. DOS6The politics and plotting sweep one along and, though complex at times, the story is never confusing. The film takes us behind the scenes as Soviet committee members wrangle for power after the sudden demise of Josef Stalin. Drop the notion right now that this is one of those movies where you easily identify and root for the good guys. There aren’t any. But the film entices you to follow the story down a dark, tyrannical tunnel, laughing —almost– all the way. Every character is singularly well defined. Nothing is sacred, particularly not the power over life and death.Image result for the death of stalin jason isaacs

The acting is just plain brilliant. I cannot heap enough praise on this cast. Anglophiles will see many familiar faces. Adrian McLaughlin as Stalin switches from jovial to terrifying in a nanosecond. We cheer when he keels over. Simon Russell Beale plays Lavrenti Beria, a name not nearly as familiar as fellow committee members, yet his will be the character you remember as the credits roll. DOS3 Beale’s portrayal fills every evil, sadistic, absurd corner of Beria’s being and still makes us laugh. Michael Palin plays Molotov (yes, THAT Molotov) as a bumbling man you nearly pity. Pity! Molotov! Americans Jeffrey Tambour as Malenkov and Steve Buscemi as Khruschev blend hilariously and seamlessly with the British cast.  Jason Isaacs and Rupert Friend, both in military regalia, send the comedy way over the top just when we need it. Andrea Riseborough is frentic and fragile as neurotic Svetlana Stalin, daughter of the departed. Early scenes with Paddy Considine and Tom Brooke at a concert hall set the tone and take the fear of life and the threat of death under Stalin to panicked comedic heights. DOS7Near the end of the film there is an abrupt shift in tone and we follow these political consequences to their natural conclusion. We end the film back in the concert hall with a bit of smirk and historical wrap up. What a ride! This film leaves one not just remembering the comedy, but makes one think, without pointing fingers at any particular regime, as it draws parallels to our twenty first century reality and leaves one wondering if, as the saying goes, the inmates really might be in charge of the asylum.

DOS2It was a particular treat to see this film in a classic “movie palace” and the perfectly synced live orchestra was transcendent. Live music brought an immediacy to the events of the film. The standing ovation at the end was for the whole experience and was —unanimous. You’ll get that reference after you see the film! Even without the live orchestra, this score will take you places…murky, disquieting and hysterically funny places. Go!DOS10









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The Importance Of Being Earnest At Madeline Garden

20180211_210957The Importance of Being Earnest has long been my favourite comedy. The clever 413 Project Theater has found a way to make Oscar Wilde’s most enchanting play even more tempting. They combine the show with a formal tea in a gorgeous space, and make the whole experience a splendid evening out.20180211_175943

Pasadena’s Madeline Garden has a fairy lighted courtyard where we were greeted and led inside to our table. It was hard not to get sidetracked peering into the other rooms along the way, and we confess to snooping around during intermission. Madeline Garden is located in the 1927 Cheesewright Studios Building which is the cornerstone of Pasadena’s historic Green Street Village.  The building has a fascinating history. We always manage to find the Anglophile connection! Edgar Cheesewright, an Englishman, was a fashionable designer of the period whose work can be found in the White House, Hearst Castle and Greystone Manor. The Great Depression saw the building go into disrepair and disrepute, but it was brought back to use just before WWII by the U.S. Naval Research Bureau for military intelligence projects. 20180211_175937A tunnel was built to connect the Cheesewright Studio building to CalTech, and it is said that Albert Einstein had a secret laboratory in the basement and the tunnel allowed him to travel back and forth unnoticed. Ern1No wonder there is an aura of drama in the air well before the first act! The building was sold in 1983 and now has residences on the upper floors and a stunning bistro and tea room at ground level. It is truly lovely.




The atmosphere is set, lively upbeat 1920’s music is helping the audience get in the mood for the show and first two courses and tea are served well before the performance begins. That was nice planning as we had some time to get settled in, chat and admire the room. The playing space is in front of an impressive fireplace. When the lights dim we are transported to Algernon Moncrieff’s morning room in Half-Moon Street and are introduced to our two protagonists. It wouldn’t be Oscar Wilde if fates and circumstances didn’t become increasingly complicated, but it is clear to the audience where the action is headed and that, and along with the brilliantly witty script, is where most of the comedy lies. Noah Khyle is stellar in his portrayal of  charming, decadent Algernon, and Kyle Decamp, as his more grounded counterpart John Worthing, plays the part quite earnestly. (Sorry!) It is amusing to see their interplay as the exposition unfolds in the first act. I eagerly awaited the tea scene between Gwendolyn and Cecily.  It was fabulously fun and all the more engaging as we were all seated at this inharmoniously hilarious tea table watching the sugar get dumped into dismayed Gwendolyn’s teacup and seeing the huge slice of cake being passed by jealously arch Cecily, knowing full well she was asked for bread and butter.   Earnest ouplesern2Caroline Pitts as lovely, determined Gwendolyn Fairfax and Annabelle Borke (who also directed) as beautiful, imaginative Cecily Cardew bring a champagne sparkle to their roles and we cheer their most civilized of skirmishes as they go from fast friends, to rivals, to sisters-in-arms. Comic musical touches underline the monologues, a quick wink to the 2002 film with a chorus of “Lady Come Down” and the couple’s adorable chase through the room brought smiles all around. Tamarah Ashton (no relation) was, indeed, “a gorgon” as stentorian Lady Bracknell. Dr. James Borke is the stolid, dependable manservant Merriman. Eric Ryan jumps into two roles, both butler Lane and Reverend Chasuble. He has a slight Rowan Atkinson vibe, with a smirk to the crowd that invited us all in on the jokes, particularly when he played Reverend Chasuble. When he and proper, uptight woman-with-a-secret Miss Prism, played with aplomb by Angela Beyer (who we must say, rose triumphantly over her wig) announce “at last”, you think, wow, THAT would be a sequel! ern7The comic timing is excellent. The staging and set changes are simple, which is all one needs in these plush surroundings. The period costumes are lovely. There is a lightness and ease to the production, which makes for an enjoyable show. The entire cast cast is energetic, focused, superbly entertaining and, the play is, overall, an absolute delight.20180211_180155

The tea, however, had it’s problems. Before any liquids were served, little warm scones, a tiny dish of jam and lightly sweetened cream cheese blend standing in for clotted cream were on the table.

20180211_181309We couldn’t begin to nibble the scones before we had a steaming cup in our hands! Madeline Garden serves one pot for two people, which is fine if you both want the same kind of tea. There is a surcharge if you and your tea buddy want different teas which seems a strange rule as you pay an individual ticket price. You are offered am uninspired choice of black, green, or herbal tea. The black tea, which was our choice, had a bit of a lemon flavour. Our pot was refreshed later in the evening. You are also able to purchase alcohol as an addition to your meal. Tepid but tasty tomato soup arrived next and was popped onto our sticky scone plates which we were expected to keep for the whole meal. The lights went down and the tiered trays were brought out later during the action of the play. 20180211_190304Could they not have waited for a scene break? Bless the actors, none of them missed a beat with all the distraction, but it isn’t fair to the audience. We couldn’t ask questions about what was served and tried to figure out what were eating and what I, as a vegetarian, had to avoid. There were many savouries as this is an evening tea, and though the—and please understand, these are just guesses– sausage balls, chicken concoction, sun dried tomato basil quiche, potato veggie combo, and “curried matter” on toast were, for the most part, very good tasting if not terribly hot, the guesswork took one out of the action of the play.ern3 The sweets on the top tier were a scrumptious pair of macarons and a red velvet-ish bit of cake topped with a minty cream which didn’t really work together. We missed the sandwich course and wished for more of the tiny, buttery scones with a touch of coconut that were served first. Our waiter was very nice and took time after the show to tell us about the history of the building.20180211_180219

Even with the tea niggles, it was a wonderfully entertaining evening and a fine night out. The concept of this play and tea combination coaxes one into transcending out of the mundane into the stylized, mannered ideal of the past. The 413 Project Theater brings their productions to both Pasadena and San Diego There is a rotating cast. The Importance Of Being Earnest at Madeline Garden runs though March 3rd.  Go!couples 2

For more information and tickets https://www.the413project.org/la-earnest

For more information on Padadena’s  Madeline Garden

For more information on The Cheesewright Building and Green Street Village Green Street Village

Posted in Bats In My Bonnet By Lady Elyse Ashton, Home Page Posts, SensibiliTeas Afternoon Tea Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: Victoria & Abdul

VA poster“Victoria & Abdul” is a tricky film. It’s excellent, no doubt, but is also thought provoking in ways which one might find unexpected. Once the credits rolled I heard members of the audience asking each other how they liked it. Most everyone did, but it brought up many questions and an animated discussion. There is more “there there” than a simple episode of the life of an historical character. Based on “true events-mostly” as claimed in the beginning titles, and directed by the incomparable Stephen Frears, “Victoria & Abdul” brings us to a lesser known story in the life of Queen Victoria. She’s shown in a declining state, being rolled out of bed, dressed, led around, frail and infirm despite her robust size, sleeping at the banquet table, and missing her mouth occasionally as she speeds through her meals. QAwindowHer eyes are dull and her zest for life has long fled. We follow her blossoming under a new friendship with Abdul Karim, regain her feisty sparkle, and then the inevitable discontent this friendship causes within her family and household.

This is ground we’ve visited before in the film “Mrs. Brown”. This friendship, however, is very different. Although there is a question of the nature of the relationship, it is not skirting on the romantic in the same way we witnessed with Queen Victoria’s Scottish servant, John Brown. Indeed, Abdul Karim, for the Queen, embodies the romance of India, the most exotic jewel in her empire. Her hunger for knowledge of India and Abdul’s eagerness to build on his favor with the Queen brings him into a newly invented position, that of “the munshi” or teacher. He gives the Queen lessons in Urdu, culture, and questionable history. Queen Victoria thrives under her new passion for India. Her Munshi and beloved companion, Abdul, is lavished with attention, honors and an exalted, secure position of intimacy and trust at court… so long as Queen Victoria is in a position to protect him and his family.VA walkies

You know where the story is headed, yet it is compelling enough to keep the audience rapt. The acting is perfection. We’ve seen Judi Dench as Queen Victoria before, and from the moment she is shown as a rag doll being pulled from the bed, we understand precisely what stage of her life we have come to witness. She brings a sweetness, loneliness, sympathy and naivete to the elderly queen which makes her treatment of those around her as pets, puppets, necessary evils, or simple nuisances not at all something to simply judge, but something to ponder. Ali Fazal plays Abdul with the wide eyed enthusiasm for adventure, a strong sense of ‘carpe diem” and a touch of the philosopher-poet. His handsome charm wins over both Victoria and the audience even when the character’s choices make one pause. Eddie Izzard is Bertie, the Prince Of Wales and plays the subtleties, adding to the broad, villainous strokes with which his character is written. Tim Pigott-Smith as Ponsonby, Michael Gambon as Lord Salisbury, are standouts. Fenella Woolgar and Olivia Williams as the Queen’s ladies and the actors who make up the rest of the household are all stellar. Simon Callow blows up the screen as Puccini in a comic turn to remember. Adeel Akhtar as Mohammed has incredible chemistry with Azi Fazal’s Abdul. Akhtar deftly brings comedy, pain, and an intense truth to his embodiment of Mohammed, the character which inspires some of the film’s most thought provoking questions.QA boat

The questions “Victoria & Abdul” poses are legion. Even as I laughed there are uncomfortable moments when I wondered if it was appropriate. Within the comedy we see cruelty. There are heartbreaking examples of racism, ignorance and exclusion. Abdul and Mohammed, brought to England for the same purpose, have opposing views on empire yet their fates are as intertwined as they are different. This film made me think about race, religion, empirical politics, the ideals of friendship, love, hatred, home, ambition and the sorrows of aging and the end of life. Very few moments don’t ring true.VA Throne The costumes are exquisite, scenery astonishing and the details and glimpses of life within the royal palace invite you into a world where nothing jars you back into the twenty first century except the notion of how much has changed and how much has remained the same. You could watch it simply for the story and the absolute beauty, but like all good films, it makes one think about what one has just seen, want to see it again and long to know more. What does that “mostly” in the opening titles mean? Was Queen Victoria truly as open and inclusive as she is portrayed in the film? Do friendship and love really conquer all? I’d absolutely encourage you to see “Victoria & Abdul” and tell us what YOU think!


The real Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim.

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