Kingdom Series Premiere

Sunday, 7 June 2009, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

The six-part drama, filmed on locations in Norfolk, follows the fortunes of Stephen Fry’s character, Peter Kingdom, an affable country solicitor in the picturesque Norfolk town of Market Shipborough.

Stephen Fry says he loves getting away from it all and travelling the world, but he’s always happy to return to “Kingdom country”.

His home county of Norfolk has become a star of the series, and Stephen is more than happy to share its delights with fellow actors, and tourists who have flocked to the area to see where the filming takes place.

“I like being away from the noise and the news and gossip of Britain. I like not knowing what is going on. I like being with a small group of people all fond of each other and getting on with it and not worrying about what is in the newspapers and who is saying what and what’s on television , and knowing who’s died.

“I like being completely disconnected. Although I also love gadgets and being connected in the other sense. I love it when people email me and phone me asking me to do something and I can say no I’m away for three months.

“But there are things I miss when I’m away like porridge, cricket, good tea, good cheese. I’m annoyed if I’ve missed a new television event that’s exciting, or movies, but you can always catch up with them if they are available online.

“I grew up in Norfolk and I absolutely adore being back there. It is a beautiful place. It has a strange and mysterious beauty and one that is not similar to the beauty of any other county.

“Norfolk has become a real star since we started the series. That is one of the most pleasurable sides of what is known as the Kingdom effect on tourism in the county.

“Swaffham, which is where we are mainly based for filming Kingdom, has produced Market Shipborough rock. The local cabs have ‘Welcome to Kingdom Country’ written on them, the local hotel has a big display about Kingdom country.

“It is very touching that people do come to join the cast. They come to lovely Norfolk and enjoy themselves.

“There are some excellent actors in the new series. Sandi Toksvig, Jack Dee, Anna Massey, June Whitfield, Peter Sallis. Talk about champagne casting you don’t get much better than that. It was marvellous to have old friends, and new friends, on set.”

Episode One

Peter Kingdom has found a new lease of life for himself, free from the shackles of his wayward brother who now rests in peace. Beatrice is settling into motherhood in her own unique way. Lyle is now a fully qualified solicitor and keen to prove himself. The flood has long retreated and everybody is getting on with their lives.

Lyle is out jogging on the Norfolk sands when he’s nearly trampled by the mounted regiment of the Blues and Royals who are on the beach with their horses for a fortnight’s summer training – so he’s in exactly the right frame of mind when Kate (Sophie Winkleman), an attractive young woman in tight riding gear, walks through the Kingdom door with a gender discrimination claim, against none other than the Blues and Royals.

Peter’s extremely frustrated. A local soldier called Tony has returned from Iraq having lost a leg, and the MOD’s compensation offer is derisory. Not only that, but Beatrice is making mountains of cabbage soup and doing a superb job of getting in the way at Kingdom – her body clock has gone awry and poor Peter is kept awake at all hours. That’s not to mention the drilling she does as she explores the house’s structure for the hidden cash Simon mentioned. To cap it all, his beloved vintage Alvis goes missing and the insurance company replace it with an ordinary saloon car.

Poor Gloria is having a terrible time. Her demanding, elderly father (Peter Sallis) is an expert in emotional blackmail and attention seeking – he’s also a local lock keeper. He’s feeling lonely underneath it all, that’s for sure, but when he holds a canal boat hostage for not paying some archaic tolls that only he seems to know about, chaos descends. Peter’s woken up in the middle of the night breaking up punch ups and desperately trying to help Gloria through a myriad of conflicting emotions – we all know how it is with parents, love, frustration, anger, despair…all the complicated stuff…

Lyle is chuffed to be dealing with such a gorgeous client, but confused as to her motives. This turns out to be a story about much more than sexual discrimination, for the young woman in question is nursing a well concealed secret – her fiancé was killed in Iraq six months ago – in the same roadside bomb that maimed Peter’s client Tony. It opens up the difficult issue of young men returning from war with severe disabilities and nobody to relate to.

Lyle faces up to modern concepts of duty and honour and starts to questions his own prejudices about army stereotypes. He tries his hand at horse riding, with disastrous results, and helps Kate work out her own deeper feelings.

The series is written by Alan Whiting (Wire in the Blood, Down to Earth, The Scarlet Pimpernel) Jeff Povey (EastEnders, Blue Murder, Wire in the Blood) and Guy Burt (Wire in the Blood, Diamond Geezer, Ghostboat).

Executive producer Simon Wheeler says: “We’re really pleased to be back in Norfolk this summer. There are so many stories for the Kingdom family and beyond that we can’t wait to tell.“

Kingdom is created by Simon Wheeler and made for ITV1 by Parallel UK in association with Stephen Fry’s production company, Sprout.

The producer is Georgina Lowe (Happy Go Lucky, Fingersmith, Tipping the Velvet) and the directors are Metin Huseyin (The Invisibles, The Palace, Rose and Maloney) and Edward Hall (Spooks,Trial and Retribution, Marple), and the executive producer is Simon Wheeler.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1