About the Show
BBC America presents ‘Burton and Taylor,’ starring Dominic West (‘The Hour,’ ‘The Wire’) and Helena Bonham Carter (‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The King’s Speech’), as Hollywood’s most famously volatile on-again, off-again lovers, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. This is the story of their ill-fated reunion, on and off stage.
The drama follows their private and public relationship played out against their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of Noel Coward’s stage play ‘Private Lives.’
Written by William Ivory (‘Made in Dagenham,’ ‘Going for Gold’), ‘Burton and Taylor’ is a BBC Drama Production for BBC Four, co-produced by BBC AMERICA. The drama is distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide. The executive producer for the BBC is Jessica Pope. The director is Richard Laxton (‘Effie,’ ‘Him And Her,’ ‘Hancock’) and the producer is Lachlan McKinnon (‘Silent Witness’).
‘Burton and Taylor’ examines one of the most fascinating, glamorous and tempestuous relationships of the 20th century – the two best-known movie stars of their day played out every high and low of their love affairs, multiple marriages and divorces right in the public eye.
The film begins in September 1982, as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton hold a press conference to announce their reunion on stage in Private Lives – the account of a divorced couple, Elyot and Amanda, who unexpectedly reunite while honeymooning with their respective spouses. The project sparks rumors about the possibility of another marriage and public speculation begins to grow. In private, however, old frictions play out once again when rehearsals are rocky at best, and Elizabeth, often late, has not learned her lines. Richard suspects Elizabeth of substance abuse and begins to consider his own issues.
Despite the odds, the play opens in New York City to eager crowds in the spring of 1983. Bad reviews prove to be no hindrance to ticket sales with the entire run of the show sold out by opening night. The scene outside the theatre is chaotic with fans lining the streets to catch a glimpse at the infamous couple. The audience responds enthusiastically as they pick up on what they imagine to be parallels with Richard and Elizabeth’s own situation. Feeling exposed, Richard realizes their onstage reunion has provided a front row seat into their personal lives. The highs and lows of their turbulent relationship are being played out in front of a live audience. As the run continues so does the tension behind the scenes. Richard and Elizabeth’s relationship, as volatile as ever, threatens to be the demise of their newest endeavor.
On playing the role of Elizabeth Taylor, Helena Bonham Carter says: “You have a responsibility, a massive responsibility I felt, if you play somebody who is real, who has been alive… you’re not only responsible to that person but to everybody who’s known her.”