Kingdom (TV series)

Kingdom (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Kingdom

genre = Drama
camera = Single-camera
picture_format = PAL (576i)
audio_format =
runtime = 46 minutes
creator = Simon Wheeler
Alan Whiting (co-creator)
producer = Georgina Lowe
executive_producer = Simon Wheeler
Stephen Fry
Alan Moloney
Gina Carter
starring = Stephen Fry
Hermione Norris
Celia Imrie
Karl Davies
Tony Slattery
Phyllida Law
John Thomson
theme_music_composer = Mark Russell
country = United Kingdom
network = ITV
first_aired = 22 April 2007
last_aired = present
status = Third series in post-production
num_series = 2
num_episodes = 12
list_episodes = List of Kingdom episodes
website =

"Kingdom" is a British television series produced by Parallel Film and Television Productions and Sprout for ITV. It was created by Simon Wheeler and stars Stephen Fry as Peter Kingdom, a Norfolk-based solicitor who is coping with family, colleagues, and the strange locals who come to him for legal assistance. The series also stars Hermione Norris, Celia Imrie, Karl Davies, Phyllida Law and Tony Slattery.

The first series, of six one-hour episodes, aired in 2007, averaging six million viewers per week. Despite a mid-series ratings dip, the executive chairman of ITV praised the programme, and the second series was filmed from later that year, airing in January and February 2008. Filming on the third series ran from July to September 2008 for broadcast in 2009.



Wheeler spent two years developing the idea for the series before filming began in 2006 and proposed the Peter character as "helping people more than doing the law".cite video |people= Hopewell, Tim (director)|year= 2007|title= Kingdom: Behind the Scenes|medium= Documentary|publisher= ITV3] The series was originally to be based around a probate solicitor, with the title "Where There's a Will". Stephen Fry disapproved of the title and raised the point that it would be difficult to produce six scripts featuring his character dealing with probate issues.cite news |last= Wilson|first= Benji |title= Home and Fry|work= Radio Times|date= 21–27 April 2007|pages= 14–16 ] A series of six episodes was announced in June 2006.cite news |first= James|last= Welsh|title= Stephen Fry to star in new ITV drama|url=|work= Digital Spy|date= 2006-07-01|accessdate= 2007-03-18]


The series was primarily a vehicle for Fry, and was his first television drama series for ITV since the conclusion of "Jeeves and Wooster" in 1993. Most of the main cast had worked with Fry before; Slattery had been in Footlights with Fry, Law appeared with him in "Peter's Friends" and Imrie also appeared in "Gormenghast" (though the two did not share any scenes). Already being acquainted allowed the cast to appear more relaxed in front of the camera. Norris had not made any appearances with the rest of the cast beyond a credit with Imrie in "Hospital!", a one-off Channel 5 comedy. However she is married to Wheeler, and he had previously written for "Wire in the Blood", which she formerly starred in. She took the role as a change of pace from the "ice maiden" characters she often portrays.cite news |first= Ian|last= Wylie|title= Why star still gets Cold Feet over bedroom scenes|url=|date= 2007-05-02|accessdate= 2007-06-19 ]

Cameo appearances in the first series were made by Richard Wilson (as Peter's old university tutor in episode four), Robert Bathurst (as a cross-dressing husband in episode five), Joss Ackland (as an Auschwitz survivor in episode six), and Rory Bremner (as a vicar, also in episode six). Bremner, known more for satire than acting, has joked that he played the vicar "as" Michael Howard and Rowan Williams and that his character's name was "Jane", due to an error in the script.

Wilson returned for the second series, which also includes roles by Lucy Benjamin and Richard Briers, John Thomson and Diana Quick. Local residents appear as background extras and in crowd scenes.cite news|first= Mike|last= Last|title= Kingdom come back for Swaffham|url=|work= Lynn News|date= 2008-01-11|accessdate= 2008-01-17] Guest stars confirmed for the third series include Pippa Haywood, James and Oliver Phelps and Sophie Winkleman.


Location filming was primarily based in Swaffham. Filming began on 10 July 2006 and was scheduled for 12 weeks, with shooting also taking place in nearby Hunstanton, Holkham, Thetfordcite news |last=Staff writer |title=Filming to start soon on Fry's TV series |url= |work= EDP24|publisher= |date= 2006-07-01|accessdate= 2007-04-20 ] and Dereham.cite news |last=Staff writer |title=Fry film crew gets stuck on sandbank |url= |work= EDP24|publisher= |date=2006-09-02 |accessdate=2007-04-20 ] Beach and harbour scenes were shot at Wells, as well as the Lifeboat station being used for that of Market Shipborough's. These places formed the fictional town of Market Shipborough. Fry recommended Swaffham to the producers, citing market towns as "more revealing of what Britain is like than a city is". Locations used within Swaffham include Oakleigh House (as the offices of Kingdom and Kingdom) and the Greyhound pub (renamed "The Startled Duck"), amongst others.cite news |last= Staff writer|title= Welcome to make-believe world of television|url=|work= Lynn News |date= 2006-07-23|accessdate=2007-03-18 ] The producers noted that Oakleigh House was ideal for the offices as there was an "authenticity" of opening the door straight onto the market square, instead of a transition from studio to location footage.

Scenes featuring Fry driving an Alvis TE 21 [The Alvis used in the series had previously appeared on several "Autocar" covers and was auctioned following completion of the second series. The car was sold for £52100. cite web|title=Lot 308: 1965 Alvis TE21 Drophead Coupe - From the TV series, 'Kingdom' starring Stephen Fry|url=|work= Motorbase|accessdate= 2008-07-16] were placed in jeopardy when the actor was caught speeding in May 2006. His counsel successfully postponed the hearing until December, allowing filming to resume unaffected (Fry would be banned from driving for six months).cite news |last= Staff writer |title= Stephen Fry banned from driving|url= |work= EDP24|date= 2007-12-16|accessdate=2007-04-22 ] The first two episodes were directed by Robin Sheppard, the third and fourth by Metin Hüseyin and the final two by Sandy Johnson. A making-of special was filmed for the ITV3 "Behind the Scenes" strand and was broadcast on 27 May 2007, immediately following the end of episode six on ITV. [cite news |first= Rob|last= Shepherd|title= ITV3 orders doc on Kingdom drama|url=|work= Broadcast|date= 2007-03-20|accessdate= 2008-08-24 ]

Filming of the second series was scheduled in two blocks; the first—directed by Andrew Grieve—ran from 2 July to 11 August and the second—directed by Edward Hall—from 20 August to 29 September. Shooting was once again based in Swaffham. [cite news|last= Staff writer|title= Swaffham braced for second TV series|url=|work= EDP24|date= 2007-06-20|accessdate= 2007-06-24 ] Norris took a break from filming in August to give birth to her daughter, returning to the set to complete her scenes in September. [cite news|last=Staff writer|title=Cold Feet actress has baby girl|url=|work=BBC News Online|date=2007-08-31|accessdate=2007-09-01]

Series 3 commenced filming in July 2008. Scenes have been filmed on Holkham beach featuring the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, who have been based in nearby Watton.cite news|author= Staff writer|title= Actress films with household cavalry on Norfolk beach|url=|work= Norwich Evening News|date= 2008-07-17|accessdate= 2008-07-18] During September, scenes set in Stockport, Greater Manchester were filmed in Kings Lynn. Shooting concluded at the end of the month.cite news|author= Last, Mike|title= Kingdom comes to South Lynn|url=|work= Lynn News|date= 2008-09-12|accessdate= 2008-09-15]

Plot summary

The series follows Peter Kingdom, a small-town solicitor whose work revolves around cases brought by the eclectic and eccentric populace of Market Shipborough. The series retains a largely episodic format, where self-contained plots play out before the hour concludes, though a continuing storyline concerns the mysterious disappearance of Simon Kingdom, Peter's brother. The first episode reveals that he vanished at sea six months previously and that everybody who knew him (including Peter) assumed that he committed suicide. Each week there are further indications that he did not die, culminating in episode six when it is revealed that he had a relationship with a woman, and that she had become pregnant with his child after he had supposedly died.


The characters are described by Wheeler as "three families"; Peter's relations, his colleagues, and the populace of Market Shipborough.
*Peter Kingdom (played by Stephen Fry) is one half of Kingdom & Kingdom, a practice he ran with his brother Simon, who disappeared six months before the series began. Peter is respected and regarded as compassionate by the local community. Fry describes him as "kind and empathetic", "on the side of the ordinary people" and as being "lonely and isolated" and not revealing his true emotions. Phyllida Law describes Peter as "into the community like one of those old French village priests". [cite news |first= Tony|last= Padman|title= Phyllida enjoys home comforts in her West Hampstead kingdom|url=| work= Ham and High: Wood and Vale edition|date= 2007-05-30|accessdate= 2007-06-16 ]
*Beatrice Kingdom (played by Hermione Norris) is Peter's sister, who arrives in the first episode after leaving rehabilitation. She is described by Wheeler as intended to be the "ultimate annoying little sister". By series two, she is successfully controlling her mental illness with medication and has become more responsible and reliable. Norris's second pregnancy was worked into the series storyline; Beatrice is portrayed as promiscuous in the first series, and takes several pregnancy tests in the second series, which all come up positive. Beatrice goes into labour in episode five of the second series, and asks Simon to be present at the birth. The father's identity is not yet known, and Simon tells Peter he "will totally flip" when he finds out.
*Lyle Anderson (played by Karl Davies) is a trainee solicitor at Kingdom & Kingdom during the first series. At the end of the second series, he qualifies, and is offered and accepts a partnership in the practice.
*Gloria Millington (played by Celia Imrie) is a legal secretary who is recovering from the death of her husband a year previously.cite news |last= McClure|first= Richard|title= Local hero|work= What's on TV|date= 21–27 April 2007|page= 13 ] She has a young son (played by Angus Imrie, the actress's son) and is "the sister he (Peter) deserved" but never had. Gloria is antagonised by Beatrice during the first series, but the two become friends after a day out together.
*Sidney Snell (played by Tony Slattery) is a smelly local and a frequent client of Peter who often finds ways to sue the local council. Slattery described Snell as an "everyman anti-hero", with Wheeler calling him an "unlikely guardian of Market Shipborough" on account of his numerous attempts to stop building work. Snell develops a close friendship with the recently-widowed Gloria in the first series. To emphasise his unwashed state, the wardrobe department rotated Snell's costume only once in the first series.
*Aunt Auriel (played by Phyllida Law) is Peter's aunt and confidante. She lives in a retirement home on a large country estate.
*Simon Kingdom (played by Dominic Mafham) was an unseen character (with the exception of some photographs) over the course of the first series, with the final episode revealing that he had fled to Dublin, apparently to escape large debts. In the second series he returns to Market Shipborough and is charged with faking his own death. At the end of the second series he disappears after fleeing from a mafia-type gang during a storm.
*Nigel Pearson (played by John Thomson) is introduced in the second series as the captain of Market Shipborough's cricket team. Peter investigates Nigel after discovering he has not honoured sponsorship contracts made with several local businesses. Nigel confides in Peter that his marriage is breaking down (unknown to him his wife (played by Rachel Fielding) is having an affair with Simon, and he returns the money owed. Nigel returns as a regular cast member in the third series, now working as a relationship counsellor.cite news|title= Stephen Fry returns to his Kingdom|url=|work= What's on TV|date= 2008-07-01|accessdate= 2008-07-04]

Thomas Fisher plays Ted, a local yokel who is the landlord of the local pub and a friend of Sidney Snell. Gerard Horan plays DC Yelland, who is in charge of prosecuting the Simon Kingdom case but also sometimes appears on other matters. Both Ted and Yelland's roles are expanded in the second series. In the first series, Maryann Turner plays a recurring minor character referred to only as "Mrs. Thing", whom Peter is constantly trying to avoid.

Simon's pregnant partner, Honor (played by Kelly Campbell), is introduced in the final episode of the first series. By the second series she has given birth to baby Daniel and is working at Kingdom & Kingdom, where she develops an attraction to Lyle. She leaves after Simon returns.


In a preview, "Radio Times" described it as "Sunday night television at its cosiest", though called the plot of episode one "feeble". [cite news |last= Butcher|first= David |title= Today's Choices|work= Radio Times|date= 21–27 April 2007|page= 68] Comments by "The Stage" echoed this, calling the storyline a "run of the mill affair", but praised the locations and referred to the series as a whole as "nice". [cite news |first= Mark|last= Wright|title= First Look: Kingdom|url=|work= The Stage|date= 2007-04-17|accessdate=2007-04-22 ] Following the broadcast of the first episode "The Guardian" wrote that the series "slips down as smoothly as a pint of Adnams" and (with tongue in cheek) welcomed it as a change from "loutish" Michael Kitchen in "relentlessly vulgar" fellow Sunday-night drama "Foyle's War". [cite news |first= Lucy|last= Mangan|title= The weekend's TV|url=|work= The Guardian|date= 2007-04-23|accessdate=2007-04-23 ] "The Times" had a negative view, awarding the episode one star out of five and criticising Stephen Fry for "playing Stephen Fry". The casting of the other characters was also criticised, though the costuming was wryly praised. [cite news |first= Andrew|last= Billen|title= The weekend's TV|url=|work= The Times|date= 2007-04-23|accessdate=2007-04-23 ]

The programme received some criticism in Norfolk for its inaccurate depiction of local accents. Local journalist and broadcaster Keith Skipper told the "Eastern Daily Press": "If they are going to set these dramas in a specific location with locals and extras surely they should get the accent right otherwise it is self defeating."cite news |last= Staff writer|title= TV show accents anger aficionados|url=|work= EDP24 |date= 2007-04-24| accessdate=2007-05-07 ] An ITV spokesman told the paper: "We hired a professional dialect coach to help the actors achieve their Norfolk accent. The Norfolk accent is different in one area of Norfolk to another. What we are trying to achieve is something that resembles a Norfolk accent that cannot be pinned down." However, he failed to identify any area of Norfolk in which the accent contains a Mummerset "r".

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade was pleased with the series, describing it at a conference in June 2007 as having "done well for [ITV] " in the prestigious 9 p.m. slot. [cite news |first= Jon|last= Rogers|title= Grade facing challenge at 9pm|url=|work= Broadcast|date= 2007-06-15|accessdate= 2008-08-24]

Following Simon's reappearance in the second series, a writer on "The Herald" expressed disappointment that the air of mystery had gone from the programme; "As the sage and saintly Peter, Stephen Fry no longer has any great detective-style fraternal conundrum to unravel, or agonise over." [cite news|author= Belcher, David|title= This Kingdom’s capital is Woolly Piffle|url=|work= The Herald|publisher= Newsquest (Herald and Times)|date= 2008-01-28|accessdate= 2008-10-02] The fifth episode of Series 2 won the 9 p.m. slot with 5.4 million viewers and a 22% audience share, beating the BAFTA coverage on BBC One. [cite news|first= Jason|last= Deans|title= Bafta fails to win over viewers|url=|work=|date= 2008-02-10|accessdate= 2008-02-11]

"The "Kingdom" effect"

Filming of the series in Swaffham and surrounding areas has given a boost to the local economy. Dubbed "the "Kingdom" effect" by producer Georgina Lowe, businesses have capitalised on the popularity of the series by offering guided tours of featured locations, as well as tourist merchandise such as "Kingdom" rock" and postcards. [cite news|first= Benji|last= Wilson|title= Kingdom country|work= Radio Times|date= 12–18 January 2008|page= 22] Lowe gave a lecture to Swaffham's Iceni Partnership in 2007, in which she explained that the production team used local businesses "for everything from equipment and scaffold rental to buying props, costumes, food and drink". By the end of the filming the second series, Parallel Productions had invested approximately £2.5 million into the local economy. [cite news|first= Nick|last= Heath|title= Kingdom is a money-spinner|url=|work= EDP24|date= 2007-07-19|accessdate= 2008-01-17]

eries information

Broadcast history

The first series aired on the ITV network in the UK at 9 p.m. on Sunday nights from 22 April to 27 May 2007. A second series was commissioned before the first episode was broadcast and was filmed from July to September 2007 for broadcast in 2008.cite news |first= Joanne|last= Oatts|title= Fry's 'Kingdom' gets second series|url=|work= Digital Spy|publisher= |date= 2007-03-15|accessdate=2007-03-18 ] A third series was commissioned in March 2008 for 2009 broadcast.cite news|first=Dave|last=West|title= 'Kingdom', 'Wild at Heart' to return|url=|work=Digital Spy|date=2008-03-26|accessdate=2008-03-26]

International distribution rights were bought by Portman Film and Television, which sold the series to 14 international networks by February 2007. Seven regional European Hallmark Channels broadcast it, with other showings on NRK in Norway, RÚV in Iceland, YLE in Finland and één in Flanders. The Australian rights were picked up by the Seven Network, with TVNZ buying it for New Zealand.cite news |first= Jessica|last= Rogers|title= Portman sells Fry drama to 14 territories|url=|work= Broadcast|date= 2007-02-01 |accessdate= 2008-08-24] The programme has aired in the United States on some PBS affiliates since January 2008.fact|date=February 2008

DVD release

The first series was released by 2 Entertain Video on 28 May 2007 and includes the ITV3 "Behind the Scenes" special. [cite web |first= Robert John|last= Shepherd|title= Region 2 Out This Week|url=|work= DVD Reviewer|date= 2007-05-29|accessdate= 2007-06-12 ] 2 Entertain holds the worldwide rights to the DVD release. The complete second series was released on six DVDs in "The Daily Telegraph" and "The Sunday Telegraph" between 1 and 7 March 2008. [cite web|title= Kingdom Series 2 DVDs |url=|work=|date= 2008-02-21|accessdate= 2008-07-16] The second series will also have a general release. [Redemption coupons in "The Telegraph" invited readers to send off for the DVDs "before they're available in the shops".]


External links

* [ "Kingdom"] at Parallel Films
* [ "Kingdom"] at Portman Film and Television
* [ "Kingdom"] at the British Film Institute
*imdb title|id=0841961|title=Kingdom

Related websites
* [ "Visit Norfolk"'s "Kingdom" website]
* [ "Kingdom" Film Locations in Norfolk]
* [ Swaffham Online's "Kingdom" webpage]

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