Channels
CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD
https://4id.channel4.com/login?context=press&redirectUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.channel4.com%3A80%2Finfo%2Fpress%2Fprogramme-information%2Fthe-aristocrats https://4id.channel4.com/registration?context=press&redirectUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.channel4.com%3A80%2Finfo%2Fpress%2Fprogramme-information%2Fthe-aristocrats

Press

The Aristocrats TX: 25 May 2012, Week 22

CorporatePortal

4/4: The Rothschilds, Saturday 25th May, 8pm, More 4

The Aristocrats, directed by Bafta-winning film-maker Patrick Forbes (The Force, English Heritage, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies, The National Trust), explores modern day high society through historically prominent families.

With unique access to names of note and notoriety, The Aristocrats opens a window onto a so-called privileged world, as aristocrats share their daily lives and give their own views about their place in a changing society.

Few families have been the subject of global attention, scrutiny and a Hollywood film. The Rothschilds are the most famous family in the world, known for being enormously wealthy and enormously private – fuelling endless speculation about the real extent of their power. In two centuries, they funded war and peace, financed an entire continent and founded a nation. They have given their name to a bank, a butterfly, a wine and a kangaroo, and yet for all their wealth, power and influence they do not believe they belong to the classes of the aristocracy.

Waddesdon Manor, the ultimate Rothschild house, is a huge, fantastical building that looks more like a French chateau or Disney palace than an English manor. Waddesdon is now owned by the National Trust, but the Rothschilds still control and pay for it, much as they have done for over a century. At the helm is one of the most influential men in the country, Lord Rothschild.

Billionaire, Jacob Rothschild, or ‘Lord R’, made a name for himself as the leading financier of his day in the family bank, and then through his own firm. With a huge fortune, a run of high profile achievements and a lineage stretching back two centuries, he would appear to be the quintessential aristocrat. But the notoriously discreet billionaire claims his family are not aristocrats. He even describes the Rothschilds as ‘nouveaux riches’.

Jacob’s daughter, documentary film-maker, Hannah, also gives an insight into how the Jewish Rothschilds were received by English high society in the 19th Century, as they tried to establish themselves, often through their hospitality at Waddesdon Manor and much to the disdain of many.

Having made his fortune and nearing the end of his life, Jacob Rothschild has decided to give most, rather than some of it, away. This decision takes him beyond the confines of an aristocracy often more concerned with counting the pennies than donating the pounds. The first sign of this sea change is the millions spent converting a battered estate farm, Windmill Hill, into a gleaming family archive, study centre, launch pad for a new Rothschild think tank.

Jacob’s other point of distinction is that having amassed a fortune in the way that British aristocrats have not, he is now spending it on something many can no longer afford - art. He is filling Waddesdon with great, and expensive works, and Turner Prize-winner Richard Long is filmed making an artwork for the first time, as he creates two pieces for Windmill Hill.

The Rothschild way of inheritance has always played a key part in maintaining the family’s wealth, and marks a very final point of difference from the British nobility. Whereas aristocrats hand on the entirety of their wealth to the first born son, Rothschild’s give it to the most able. Jacob was chosen by his Aunt Dorothy as the best qualified Rothschild for the job of overseeing Waddesdon. Now he has to choose between his four children, Banker Nathaniel, Garden Designer Beth, Archaeologist Emily and documentary maker Hannah.

However tricky this question, this is the way that the Rothschilds have ensured that, unlike much of the British aristocracy, they don’t crumble into obscurity and that century to century their influence, power and wealth keeps growing.

3/4: Lord Shaftesbury, Saturday 18th May, 8pm, More 4

The Aristocrats, directed by Bafta-winning film-maker Patrick Forbes (The Force, English Heritage, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies, The National Trust), explores modern day high society through four historically prominent families.

With unique access to names of note and notoriety, The Aristocrats opens a window onto a so-called privileged world, as aristocrats share their daily lives and give their own views about their place in a changing society.

This film follows Nick Ashley Cooper coming to terms with his sudden and brutal assumption of the title of the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, trying to rescue the Shaftesbury family name – famed for philanthropy and acts of charity down the centuries – from bankruptcy and ruin.

Nick thought he was going to be a DJ, and was enjoying a success in New York, when his father, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury was murdered by his Tunisian wife’s brother. Then, Nick’s brother Anthony, who had only become 11th Earl a month before when their father’s body was discovered, died tragically of a sudden heart attack aged just 28.

Despite the intense interest his father’s murder aroused worldwide, this is the first documentary made with access to Nick and the Shaftesbury family. With exclusive interviews, the film offers insight into the grim reality behind the 10th Earl’s tragic death and the years leading up to it: his slow slide into alcoholism; his flight from rural Dorset to the Cote D’Azur; his marriage to Jamila M’Barek, a St Tropez escort, 20 years his junior; and then the months of his disappearance before his body was discovered in an Alpine ravine.

The death of his father and brother left Nick facing an appalling challenge. The family seat at Wimborne St Giles has not been lived in for 50 years and is in such bad condition that English Heritage have placed it on their ‘at risk’ register. But where most people would walk away, Nick has decided that he will rescue it, borrowing millions from the banks to do so, and honouring the obligation he feels created by centuries of Shaftesburys living there.

In this film, not only does Nick face this daunting challenge, he is going through his own personal ordeal. Two years ago Nick almost died in a riding accident, breaking his spine in two places. Now he is a registered paraplegic, and for a long time, was barely able to walk. Despite this he has driven himself to compete in ultra-marathons – races lasting up to a hundred miles – in some of the world’s most inhospitable places such as the Himalayas, the Gobi Desert and Mont Blanc. Furthermore, while the mammoth and exhausting renovations take place, Nick and his wife Dinah are expecting their second child and are desperate to finish the house in time for the birth.

This film is about one man’s struggle against almost insurmountable obstacles – and the weight of tradition driving him on. The documentary follows as Nick battles builders, debts, the crippling demands of the hardest marathon on the planet, and when he least expects it, his former step mother, the accomplice to his father’s murderer, coming out of the woodwork. Can Nick pull off the impossible and how much will he sacrifice for the family name?

2/4: Goodwood, Thursday 29th November, 9pm, Channel 4

The Aristocrats, directed by Bafta-winning film-maker Patrick Forbes (The Force, English Heritage, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies, The National Trust), explores modern day high society through historically prominent families.

With unique access to names of note and notoriety, The Aristocrats opens a window onto a so-called privileged world, as aristocrats share their daily lives and give their own views about their place in a changing society.

The second film centres on Charles Gordon-Lennox, the Earl of March and Kinrara, heir to the Dukedom of Richmond, and owner of Goodwood. Good looking, charming, and with a maniacal attention to detail, Charles Gordon-Lennox has gone from being Stanley Kubrick's set photographer to hosting a playground for the world's rich and famous, drawn to his estate's famous racecourse, and high profile car events - the Festival of Speed, for the world's fastest cars, and Revival, which last year saw the most valuable collection of cars ever assembled, at $3 billion.

In the last 12 months, Goodwood has been host to everybody from Jenson Button to Courtney Love, stomping off stage at the Glorious Goodwood race ball when the crowd requested a Nirvana track by her late husband Kurt Cobain. The estate has it all - the only top class privately-owned racecourse, an aerodrome, a hotel, a golf course, an organic farm and a Grand Prix circuit.

But behind the glamour and the celebrities, there is a harsher reality. In the 21st century, the British aristocracy are no longer rich enough to simply enjoy their estates. They need their assets to make money as they cannot sustain the huge sums needed for investment and restoration.

Charles Gordon-Lennox is practically unique in having made Goodwood self-sufficient. It has been a huge struggle, which continues. In the 1930s his family had to sell off their huge Scottish estates. Charles decided that whatever happened, he would not give up on Goodwood, and so far despite a worrying million pound loss in 2010, he has succeeded by attracting hundreds of thousands of us to his events.

This success, however, has been achieved at immense personal cost. Far from feeling privileged, Charles admits to occasionally hating being there and of being driven by a fear of failure. Many aristocrats call this ‘mortmain' - the dead hand of the past: that where most people might see a life of privilege and wealth, they see obligation. The pressure of having to hand on an inheritance in as good a shape as they received it, can change their estates into gilded cages

1/4: Blenheim Palace, Thursday 22nd November, 9pm, Channel 4

The Aristocrats, directed by Bafta-winning film-maker Patrick Forbes (The Force, English Heritage, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies, The National Trust), explores modern day high society through historically prominent families.

With unique access to names of note and notoriety, The Aristocrats opens a window onto a so-called privileged world, as aristocrats share their daily lives and give their own views about their place in a changing society.

Offering exclusive insight into one of the most famous father and son relationships in Britain - and historically the bitterest - the first film, The Aristocrats: Blenheim Palace, follows a story of reconciliation and redemption. ‘Sunny', 11th Duke of Marlborough, 86 years old, is courteous, fastidious, and a former Guards Officer. His 56-year-old son is formally known as the Marquess of Blandford, and less formally as Jamie Blandford. Jamie's excessive lifestyle and battles with drug addiction have been widely covered British media for most of his life. This is the first time he has appeared in a documentary.

At stake is the inheritance of the biggest palace in Britain, Blenheim. The Duke, John ‘Sunny' Spencer-Churchill, has dedicated his life to maintaining and safeguarding it. Bigger than Buckingham and Windsor, with 187 rooms, measuring 200,000 square feet - the palace was given to the Marlboroughs as a gift from a grateful nation after the first Duke fought the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. But after falling out with Queen Anne, the Duke was saddled with paying for the rest of the construction, and the family joke that they have been fighting the ‘Battle of Blenheim' ever since.

Sunny's solution was to open it up to mass tourism, and every year Blenheim receives 500,000 visitors. Worried about the potential repercussions for Blenheim of his son's addiction, Sunny went to court in 1994 to disinherit his son - the first time an aristocrat had done so for a hundred years. Jamie contested the case and eventually the two men reached a compromise - when his father died Jamie would inherit the title and the right to live in the palace, but a group of trustees would control the place and decide how much influence any Duke has.

Now clean, and reconciled with his father, Jamie is back living on the estate, hoping to prove to Sunny and the all-powerful trustees that he is fit and able to take on the ‘Battle of Blenheim'. The cameras are there during the peak tourist season, often thwarted with bad weather, and in the run up to the completing of a £2million new block at the palace - opened by the local MP, David Cameron. Jamie speaks openly about the regrets about his past, feeling daunted but ambitious about running this incredible and grandiose estate. But will his father entrust him with his life's work and the Marlborough legacy?

Prod Co: Oxford Film and Television
Exec Prod: Nick Kent
Dir: Patrick Forbes
Comm Ed: Mark Raphael

Past TX Information

THE ARISTOCRATS 2/2: THE ROTHSCHILDS
26 May 2013, 01:05
  • R
  • S
  • HD

Related Links

Contacts

Login to view contacts

or

Register for Press Access