Margot

9:30pm – Friday, December 31 on ABC1

Beautiful and heartbreaking, Margot brings to the screen with breathtaking vividness the glamorous and turbulent life of Britain’s first international ballet superstar.

Inspired by Meredith Daneman’s riveting biography, this film focuses on Dame Margot Fonteyn’s relationship with Rudolf Nureyev. A relationship which electrified Fonteyn’s career when she was already past the age most dancers retire, and a relationship that intrigued the world. Was the ardour that Fonteyn and Nureyev expressed for each other while dancing also consummated in bed.

At the age of 40, Dame Margot Fonteyn (Anne Marie Duff – TheVirgin Queen; Shameless) was already one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, but beneath her elegantly poised facade was a woman painfully aware of the future. Torn between her loyalties to The Royal Ballet and her marriage to the notorious and unfaithful Panamanian diplomat, Roberto ‘Tito’ de Arias (Con O’Neill – Criminal Justice), Fonteyn sensed mounting pressure to consider retirement.

But as Fonteyn’s stardom was beginning to wane, her unexpected pairing with the young Russian �migr� Rudolph Nureyev (Michiel Huisman – The Young Victoria) caused a global sensation. And while her private life collapsed, Fonteyn’s passionate and vibrant relationship with Nureyev transformed her into a worldwide celebrity and created one of the most enduring and celebrated ballet partnerships of all time.

10pm Sunday, 27 April 2008

When partnered with Russian dance sensation Rudolph Nureyev, Margot’s own career looked like it would never end. Even though she was a great deal older than Rudolph, they became ballet’s glamour couple and created some of the best ballets ever seen. When Margot and Rudolph performed together, they guaranteed sell-out audiences. As a result, the ballet executives exploited Margot, insisting she continue to dance.
As she was still caring for her wheelchair-bound husband, who had no income, Margot continued to work, dancing well into her sixties. With arthritis in her feet causing her immense pain, she relied on regular injections to ease her discomfort.
When she wasn’t dancing, she lived with Tito on a farm in Panama where not only did she look after him emotionally and physically but she financially took care of his family. Right up until her death, it seems the Arias took advantage of Margot – even on her deathbed insisting on changes to her Will, leaving the world’s greatest ballerina penniless.

10pm Sunday, 20 April 2008

As a principal dancer with the Sadler’s Wells dance company, Margot Fonteyn’s career was flourishing, but it wasn’t until the company toured across America that Margot became an international star. With her grace and impeccable style, Margot became a sweetheart for designers and the paparazzi, gracing the covers of Newsweek and Time Magazine.
Outside of ballet, it was her marriage to Roberto (Tito) Arias in 1955 that kept Margot in the international spotlight – some say for all the wrong reasons. Originally from Panama, Tito had three children from a previous marriage and was a known womaniser who kept up his ways even after marrying Margot.
He was also from a political family with revolutionary ideas of his own. Unfortunately, they involved Margot – her money and position, which he used to his advantage. In 1959, Margot was imprisoned in Panama, charged with gun smuggling.
When Tito was shot and left paralysed, Margot took charge of the situation and supported him, his rehabilitation and even his wayward son. All the while she continued to dance, never missing a practice and with all the dedication and focus she displayed throughout her career. Just when she was contemplating retirement, a young Russian dancer joined the company – the brilliant Rudolph Nureyev.

Part One

9.55pm Sunday, 13 April 2008

Margot Fonteyn was the greatest dancer England ever produced. Over the three episodes of Margot, learn how she was deceived and betrayed by those closest to her. Of how a little girl called Peggy Hookham, brought up in Shanghai, told her mother she would one day become the greatest dancer in the world. And how, in spite of being almost unable to walk, she was still performing when she was 67.
It’s the story of courage and tenacity, of unbelievable devotion to her art and to those whom she loved, who, in the end left her penniless and alone. Even to the extent that she was buried at first in a pauper’s grave. It’s the stuff of fiction, except that it’s true.
Featuring archival material and interviews with people who worked alongside her at different times in her life, the series attempts to understand the real woman and the terrible sacrifices she made to achieve what she did – her ‘duty’ as she called it.