Thursday, 23 June 2016
425 Death Of A Princess
First watched : 9 April 1980
This ultra-controversial docudrama made the cover of TV Times that week and certainly made a few headlines in the days immediately afterwards.
Death of A Princess was a dramatisation of the enquiries made by journalist Anthony Thomas into the public execution of a 19-year old Saudi princess and her alleged lover in 1977. Because the subject matter was so sensitive, Thomas decided to go down the docudrama route to help obscure the identity of witnesses. His conclusion was that the princess was killed for defying her grandfather, a brother of King Khalid, and the pair were never tried in court, the execution being entirely extra-judicial.
The Saudis were , as expected , apoplectic both about the intrusion into the private lives of the royal family and the harsh glare of the light shone on law and practices in the strictly Muslim kingdom. They claimed the whole thing was based on gossip and fabrication but Thomas himself said that he had received conflicting information from different sources and never claimed the drama was 100 % accurate. Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary crawled to them saying he found it "deeply offensive" and that seemed to be enough to stop them breaking off diplomatic relations with the UK . In any case they had bigger fish to fry as it was going to be shown in America - the film was part-funded by a US network - the following month and their efforts switched to trying to prevent that ,unsuccessfully as it turned out.
Thomas himself was played by Paul Freeman who reportedly got the part of the main villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark on the strength of it.
I thought it was interesting but there wasn't quite enough substance to the material to justify its two hour ( with commercial breaks ) length. You certainly didn't get much insight into the personality of the poor girl at the centre of it .