The BBC and Buckingham Palace are unveiling a new documentary special revealing the previously unseen private home movies of Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen, which is set to premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on May 29.
The 75-minute documentary features footage and photos of the queen as a young girl, telling the story of her life as a princess through her own eyes and in her own words from across her reign.
Members of the British royal family have been filming each other since the 1920s, but for decades these hundreds of reels of homemade recordings have been held privately by the Royal Collection in the vaults of the British Film Institute (BFI). For this documentary, Queen Elizabeth has granted the BBC unprecedented access to the footage, including home movies shot by her, her parents, her late husband Prince Philip and others, which shed light on her journey from childhood to her coronation at the age of 27 in 1953 following the death of her father, King George VI.
BBC Studios viewed more than 400 reels of film during production, discovering lost newsreel footage given to the queen as well as behind-the-scenes recordings of state events that are believed to have been privately commissioned by the royals. The filmmakers also listened to over 300 of the queen’s speeches across eight decades. The resulting documentary will rely primarily on her own voice and words, accompanied by newsreel audio.
Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen is a BBC Studios production for BBC One and iPlayer commissioned by Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion. It’s directed by Simon Finch, with Julia Harrington and Harvey Lilley executive producing and Claire Popplewell serving as creative director. The commissioning editor is Simon Young.
Also bound for BBC One and BBC iPlayer is a new hour-long documentary telling the stories of British women who reassessed their sexuality and changed their lives after seeing the 2019 TV drama Gentleman Jack.
Narrated by award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes, Gentleman Jack Changed My Life follows British women ranging in age from their twenties to their eighties who, after finding inspiration in the series’ depiction of real-life 19th-century lesbian Anne Lister, have subsequently come out to themselves, their children, and/or their parents and grandparents.
Alongside the stories of the women profiled are insights from the stars of Gentleman Jack, Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, as well as writer Sally Wainwright.
Also commissioned by Clare Sillery, Gentleman Jack Changed My Life was produced by Leeds-based Screenhouse Productions. It was directed by Sara Hardy and produced by Al Johnstone. Executive producers are Screenhouse CEO Barbara Govan and Emma Hindley, and the commissioning editor is Emma Loach.