For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace - a meeting like no other in British public life – it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.
The Audience breaks this contract of silence - and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional - sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. In turn, the Queen can’t help but reveal her own self as she advises, consoles and, on occasion, teases.
From young mother to grandmother these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.
Haydn Gwynne is reunited with Stephen Daldry having played Mrs Wilkinson in the world premiere of Billy Elliot The Musical, a role she later recreated on Broadway where she won the Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. She can currently be seen on tour playing Stephanie Abrahams opposite William Gaunt in Duet for One. Her other recent theatre credits include Queen Elizabeth I in Richard III in Sam Mendes’ The Bridge Project, Susan in Becky Shaw at the Almeida Theatre and Mrs Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor in Greg Doran’s Royal Shakespeare Company production. On television her credits include Midsomer Murders, The Great Game, New Tricks, Dalziel & Pascoe, Consenting Adults and Drop the Dead Donkey. Her film credits include Hunky Dory, These Foolish Things, Remember Me and The Pleasure Principle.
Paul Ritter has recently been seen at the National Theatre in Marianne Elliot’s sell-out production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. His other National Theatre credits include The Hothouse, The Reporter, The Coast of Utopia, Howard Katz and Coram Boy and for the Royal Shakespeare Company his credits include Troilus and Cressida and The White Devil. His other theatre credits include The Norman Conquests and The Birthday Party in the West End and Accidental Death of An Anarchist for the Donmar Warehouse. On television he can currently be seen in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner. His other television credits include The Function Room, Vera, Great Expectations, Land Girls, The Night Watch and Lark Rise to Candleford. His film credits include Complicit, The Eagle, Nowhere Boy, Quantum of Solace, On a Clear Day, The Libertine and The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz.
Theatre, film and television actor Robert Hardy has previously played Churchill seven times including Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years and most recently in Celui qui a dit Non in Paris in French. His extensive theatre career includes four seasons in Stratford for the Royal Shakespeare Company and two seasons at the Old Vic. In the UK and US his theatre credits include Hamlet, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear and in the West End his credits include Rosmersholm, The Rehearsal, A Severed Head, The Constant Couple, Habeas Corpus and Dear Liar. His film credits include The Shooting Party, The Far Pavilions, Paris by Night, War and Remembrance, Sense and Sensibility, Mrs Dalloway, The Titchborne Claimant ,The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and four Harry Potter films as Cornelius Fudge. He played Siegfried Farnon in the television adaptation of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small and was made a CBE in the 1981 Queen’s Birthday honours.