The White Queen (2013 - )
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Never mind Elizabeth I and her enigmatic love life, or Henry VIII and his wife-related woes. The White Queen goes back beyond the oft-told tales of the Tudors, to an even more shocking and dangerous time in our nation's history. We're in the age of the Wars of the Roses, but this is more than a mere re-telling of bloody skirmishes and political intrigue.
Adapted from Philippa Gregory's bestselling novels, The White Queen is that rare thing: a saga of real history told largely from the point of view of women. No longer relegated to the shadows of regal bedchambers, these women take centre stage and make the behind-the-scenes decisions that alter the course of the country. This is a story of love, lies, deception and death: a game of thrones that really was played and, indeed, determined the fate of Britain.
The White Queen is set right in the middle of the Wars of the Roses, a series of brutal conflicts between two rival royal houses: the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The bitterness between them is heightened by their very closeness - both houses are off-shoots from the greater House of Plantagenet. As the saga opens, the House of York is basking in its own sense of triumph. A few years before, their leader - Edward IV - took the throne from the House of Lancaster's Henry VI in the brutal Battle of Towton.
The Lancastrians may be down, but they're certainly not out. Young Henry Tudor is waiting in the wings and being groomed for potential power. Meanwhile, the triumphant king, Edward IV, is about to play with fire when he falls in love with the most beautiful woman in the land... who also happens to be a "commoner" and a Lancastrian. The stage is set for an almighty power struggle, with women pulling most of the strings.
This may, on the surface, be a story of powerful men trying to snatch the crown from each other. But don't be fooled. The real story goes on well behind the throne, with three women locked in psychological and political warfare. The first is Elizabeth Woodville, whose ravishing, delicate beauty makes King Edward IV weak at the knees as soon as he sees her - even if she does happen to hail from the hated House of Lancaster. It's a pivotal moment that makes the monarch throw caution to the wind, and changes the course of British history.
Then, there's Margaret Beaufort, the so-called Red Queen (the Lancastrians being represented by a red rose, and the Yorkists by a white). She is the fierce matriarch who is determined to do whatever it takes to steer her son, Henry Tudor, to his rightful place in history. The third member of our tempestuous trio is Anne Neville, the daughter of one of the most cunning and influential of the king's advisors, who is destined to play a key role at the side of a future king.
As you'd expect from a big, juicy historical saga, The White Queen is a rich tapestry of sub-plots, each influencing the other. At its heart, at least to start with, is the passionate courtship of Edward and Elizabeth, who - like Romeo and Juliet - are star-crossed lovers from rival factions. This, in turn, kicks off the sinister machinations of the Earl of Warwick, the king's advisor who doesn't take kindly to Edward falling in love with the wrong woman.
Over on the Lancastrian side of things, we'll see the parallel saga of Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry, who are poised to throw Yorkist rule into disarray. Among this power-hungry clan there's a young, raven-locked man called Richard, who will go down in history as the tyrant king Richard III, although The White Queen gives us a very different take on a man often portrayed as a cackling villain. And, just to excite all the history buffs, the infamous story of the Princes in the Tower plays a part in things as well. Let the games begin!
The White Queen
I really loved this series. From the script, to the excellent performances, to the lavish sets, it's full of period detail and technical merit. As an amateur medievalist, I was very familiar with the story, and the series sticks very close to fact as we know it, while giving a nod to the book on which this is based. Elizabeth was a fascinating, smart, engaging woman in real life (and reportedly quite a beauty) who well understood what she had to do in order for she and her family to survive in a tough society and era. The ad sells this as a story about "scheming" women - I find that really cheap and insulting, and frankly that isn't what the story is about. These women had enormous heart, did have morals, and also had the brains to play the games they were forced to play from birth. That isn't "scheming and manipulation", it's survival. I want to mention especially the beautiful performance of Rebecca Ferguson in the lead role - this series garnered her some well-deserved and overdue professional attention and led to other roles. The viewer will recognize the actress playing Warwick's older daughter as the woman playing a lead role in Poldark. And Max Irons is really fine - and great to look at - as the tempestuous, strong-willed warrior king Edward IV - the real man was as tall, as handsome, as stubborn, as impetuous, and Max nails it. Edward is remembered as one of England's most successful kings. Anyone who loves history, wants to understand the Wars of the Roses, and great historical drama, will like this one.
A Guide to the World of the Spanish Princess
In recent years, STARZ has produced three shows that take place during the height of England's Wars of the Roses and that continue into the Tudor period. The series started with "The White Queen," followed by "The White Princess," and the first season of "The Spanish Princess."
The shows are full of royal intrigue, coups, backstabbing, affairs, and ruthless machinations, and the best part is, it's all based on real history, which makes the narratives that much more entertaining. There's a reason TV and filmmakers keep coming back to this time period for shows and movies — the real-life events are more fantastical than anything a fiction writer could invent, and the plot points get juicier with every passing series.
If you've always wanted to jump in on these STARZ period pieces, here is a guide to the world of the Tudors and don't forget to tune into "The Spanish Princess" Sundays @ 8 PM ET.
***Spoilers for The White Queen, The White Princess, and season one of The Spanish Princess follow***
Begin with "The White Queen"
"The White Queen" follows three women—Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale), and Anne Neville (Faye Marsay)—as they battle for power behind the scenes in Britain's royal family.
Elizabeth Woodville, known as the titular "White Queen," was married to King Edward IV (Max Irons) from 1464 to 1483. When he died suddenly in 1483, his young son, Edward V (Sonny Asbourne Serkis), becomes king, with the late Edward's brother Richard (Aneurin Barnard) installed as Lord Protector due to Edward V's young age.
However, the Lord Protector seizes the throne for himself just a few months later, crowning himself King Richard III. Helping orchestrate all of this is Richard's wife, Anne Neville, who becomes queen when he takes the throne. Other villains include Henry Tudor, who eventually became King Henry VII. and his mother, Margaret Beaufort, also known as the "Red Queen," pulling strings behind the scenes to get her son on the throne.
"The White Queen" was an incredible start to the series about Tudor England and sets the stage for the series to follow. Richard III was a famously villainous figure, and he and Anne Neville make quite the pair of foils for the "White Queen," especially when they conspire to have her two young sons murdered. In real life, young Edward V and his younger brother (also named Richard) were imprisoned in the Tower of London — earning the nickname of the "Princes in the Tower" — and were never seen again. Historians generally believe that Richard III had them killed, though "The White Princess" posits another theory that is quite juicy.
Anyway, the young King Henry VII (Michael Marcus) earns his place as a hero by taking Richard out at the Battle of Bosworth Field. The next entry in the Tudor series, "The White Princess", is set up nicely when Henry VII marries King Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York (Freya Mavor), uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York and ending the Wars of the Roses.
Continue the Story with "The White Princess"
The next entry in the series follows Elizabeth "Lizzie" of York (Jodie Comer) and Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy) as they navigate an arranged, loveless marriage while being forced to present a united front to fend off threats from all sides. Two of the biggest hurdles to their happiness are their own mothers — Lizzie's mother Elizabeth Woodville (Essie Davis) and Henry's mother Margaret Beaufort (Michelle Fairley) are constantly at odds, with Woodville plotting against the Tudor family to return British control to the House of York.
However, as time goes on, Lizzie and Henry grow fond of one another, and they begin to work together to form an alliance with Spain. The one sticking point is that Lizzie's aunt, Margaret of Burgundy (Joanne Whalley), is rallying support for a man saying he is King Edward IV's youngest son, a long-disappeared heir apparent. Lizzie and Elizabeth Woodville are convinced he is their long-lost brother and son, but Lizzie realizes that in order to protect her sons, she must have him executed, after which she and Henry VII are able to betroth their eldest son to the "Spanish Princess."
At its heart, "The White Princess" is a love story — albeit an unusual one. The contempt between Lizzie and Henry is front and center at the onset of the series, and it's fascinating to watch how they come to care for one another. Comer, a future Emmy winner for "Killing Eve," is particularly strong in this piece as a woman torn between family, duty, and love.
Catch Up with "The Spanish Princess"
The third series might be the most exciting yet, as it starts at the beginning of a very famous period in British history — that of King VIII and his six wives. In this series, Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope) is the titular "Spanish Princess" and Henry's first wife. The daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (Alicia Borrachero) of Spain has been betrothed to the eldest son of King Henry VII (Elliot Cowan) and Elizabeth of York (Alexandra Moen), but Catherine finds out on her wedding day that the man she has been in a romantic correspondence with is, in fact, Arthur's younger brother, Harry (Ruairi O'Connor), pretending to be her betrothed.
When Arthur suddenly falls ill and dies, followed shortly by the death of his mother, Catherine finds herself stuck between wanting to marry the Harry she knows and the machinations of his father, King Henry VII, who announces that he will wed Catherine himself. However, when Henry VII dies, Harry assumes the throne and becomes known as King Henry VIII, while Catherine of Aragon becomes the ill-fated queen.
Stories about Henry VIII and his wives are often told from the King's point of view, and it's a refreshing change of pace for the narrative of "The Spanish Princess" to center the perspective of one of the only women who survived being married to him. The second season promises to get into some of the dangerous intrigue that led to Catherine and Henry's famous divorce. Look out for Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn (the subject of many other fictionalized Tudor accounts) to make an appearance.
The Novels That Started It All
The reign of the Tudors had a lot going on that made it a fascinating time in history — coups, executions, affairs, and intrigue. STARZ does an excellent job bringing this time period to life, but if you want even more medieval dirty laundry, you're best served by going right to the (fictional) source on which the shows are based.
British historical fiction writer Philippa Gregory wrote the basis for much of the Tudor-centric media viewers have come to love, compiling her many works into an extensive series called "The Plantagenet and Tudor novels". While there has been some criticism of Gregory's use of creative license, the gist of the stories are accurate and the novels serve as supplemental reading for fan of the STARZ series.
Critical Acclaim for the Tudors
The San Francisco Chronicle called "The White Queen" an "entertaining romp through a complicated and fascinating period of English history," while Entertainment Weekly said "The White Princess" "grounds itself in the journey of its titular heroine with a sharp understanding of a new queen's difficult, often precarious position."
As for "The Spanish Princess," the Los Angeles Times praised the first season as "an elegant and powerful tribute to a queen who's all too often been defined by the gluttony of her husband but whose influence changed the very fabric of England."
Season two of "The Spanish Princess" airs Sundays, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on STARZ.
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Series white queen
The White Queen (TV series)
British historical drama television series
The White Queen is a British historical drama television drama serial developed for BBC One. It is based on Philippa Gregory's historical novel series The Cousins' War (The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Kingmaker's Daughter). The first episode premiered on BBC One on 16 June 2013 in the United Kingdom. It was first broadcast in the United States on Starz on 9 August 2013.
The drama is set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses and presents the story of the women involved in the long conflict for the throne of England. It starts in 1464; the nation has been at war for nine years fighting over who is the rightful king as two sides of the same family, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, contest the throne. The story follows three women, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville, who manipulate events behind the scenes of history to gain power. Elizabeth Woodville is the protagonist in the novel The White Queen, and Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville are the focus of the novels The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter; the three characters appear in the three novels that make up the television drama.
The final episode of The White Queen aired on 18 August 2013 and the drama was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc the following day. Two days later, it was confirmed that The White Queen would not be returning for a second series. In a statement to Broadcast, the BBC stated that the show was always planned as a one-series serial miniseries. In October 2013, The Telegraph reported that Starz planned to develop a sequel called The White Princess, based on Gregory's 2013 novel of the same name. Gregory confirmed that the project was underway in August 2015. On 7 February 2016, Gregory announced on Facebook that the sequel was officially confirmed to be in production, with the scripts being written. On 15 March 2018, Starz announced that it would create a continuation of The White Queen and The White Princess to be titled The Spanish Princess, which would be based on Gregory's novels The Constant Princess and The King's Curse and centre on Catherine of Aragon.
The White Queen was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards and a People's Choice Award.
- Juliet Aubrey as Lady Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, wife of Warwick and mother to Lady Isabel and Lady Anne
- Veerle Baetens as Margaret of Anjou, queen consort to Henry VI of England
- Aneurin Barnard as Richard III of England
- Leo Bill as Sir Reginald Bray
- Emily Berrington as Jane Shore, Edward IV's mistress
- Ashley Charles as Thomas Grey, the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville and Sir John Grey of Groby
- Dean-Charles Chapman as Richard Grey, son of Elizabeth Woodville and Sir John Grey of Groby
- Arthur Darvill as Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
- Shaun Dooley as Sir Robert Brackenbury
- Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville, the "White Queen" and consort to Edward IV
- James Frain as Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, "the Kingmaker"
- Caroline Goodall as Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, mother of Edward, George, and Richard
- Andrew Gower as Lord Strange, son of Lord Stanley
- Rupert Graves as Lord Stanley, the fourth husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort
- Amanda Hale as Lady Margaret Beaufort, "the Red Queen", mother of Henry Tudor, a great-granddaughter of John, Duke of Lancaster
- Max Irons as Edward IV of England
- Michael Jenn as Dr Lewis
- Ben Lamb as Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers
- Michael Maloney as Sir Henry Stafford, third husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort
- Michael Marcus as Henry Tudor, later Henry VII of England; son and heir of Lady Margaret Beaufort by Sir Edmund Tudor
- Faye Marsay as Lady Anne Neville, "the Kingmaker's Daughter" and queen consort to Richard III
- Freya Mavor as Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter and child to Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
- Lizzy McInnerny as Lady Sutcliffe
- Tom McKay as Jasper Tudor, half-brother of Henry VI, brother-in-law to Lady Margaret Beaufort and uncle to Henry Tudor
- Janet McTeer as Jacquetta, Lady Rivers, Elizabeth Woodville's mother
- David Oakes as George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV
- Eve Ponsonby as Mary Woodville
- Robert Pugh as Baron Rivers (later Earl Rivers), father of Elizabeth Woodville
- Frances Tomelty as Lady Beauchamp, mother of Lady Margaret Beaufort
- Eleanor Tomlinson as Lady Isabel Neville, Duchess of Clarence, wife of George, Duke of Clarence and elder sister of Lady Anne Neville
- Rupert Young as Sir William Herbert, Lord Pembroke
The large majority of the cast is British, but since the drama was shot in Belgium, several local actors are featured: Veerle Baetens, Jurgen Delnaet, Joren Seldeslachts, Elsa Houben, Ben Forceville and Ben Van den Heuvel all appear in the serial. Rebecca Ferguson who portrays Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen, is from Sweden (her mother is originally from England).
The budget was £25 million and took 120 days to shoot, consisting of 250 sets including: dungeons, palaces, castles, 12 state banquets and at least two coronations.
Filming began in September 2012 and lasted until March 2013.
Two versions were made, one for the BBC and a more sexually explicit version for the US.
A companion two-part documentary series, The Real White Queen and Her Rivals, presented by Philippa Gregory, was made to accompany the series. It was broadcast on BBC Two on 17 and 24 July 2013.
The White Queen was filmed on location in Belgium, where several landmarks in Bruges and Ghent represent locations in London and elsewhere:
The Starz episode title is shown below the original BBC title if different. Final UK episode ratings from Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
A number of anachronisms and historical inaccuracies received attention, especially in the costumes and locations used. Pat Stacey of the Irish Evening Herald, said that "the historical howlers are piling up like bodies on a battlefield, week after week", comparing it to the "flaws" spotted by "nitpickers" in Downton Abbey and Foyle's War.
Bernadette McNulty, of The Daily Telegraph, commented that in the final episode, the Battle of Bosworth Field appears to take place in a forest rather than a field. Mary McNamara, of the LA Times, states that in order to fit thirty years of history into ten episodes, "years collapse into minutes, intricate policy is condensed into cardboard personalities, and the characters are swiftly categorized as good or evil".
Others questioned the depiction of the major characters. Amy Licence, Cecily's biographer, states that Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, is portrayed in the first episode as "straight from the pages of a novel rather than the actual proud aristocrat who asserted her own right to rule". Historian Michael Hicks commented, "They've fiddled with the chronology" but added, "I can see why they decided to restrict the cast of characters, and play up the rivalry between Elizabeth and the Earl of Warwick", and also said "As with Philippa Gregory's source novels, they've done their research".
In response to criticisms of the series being "ahistorical", Gregory stated that
"What [BBC One and Starz] wanted was not a historical series based on the documents from the War of the Roses. They wanted my take on it, so that's what they got."
Aneurin Barnard (who played Richard) stated, with regard to inaccuracies,
"...the truth can be pretty boring. You have to up the stakes and make something up or twist it to make it a little bit more exciting".
On Metacritic the show has a score of 70 based on reviews from 14 critics.
Reception in the UK
In the UK the critical reception was described as “mixed at best” and 'mostly scathing'. Sam Wollaston of The Guardian praised the characters, suggesting Janet McTeer (Jacquetta) stole the show. He also praised the romantic elements, commenting "Mmmm, steamy". Gerard O'Donovan of The Daily Telegraph praised the casting of the supporting characters and the exciting "lust and vengeance" fuelling the drama, but objected to the prettified portrayal of 15th century England.The Independent's Tom Sutcliffe found it "less historically plausible than Game of Thrones", but concluded that "I’m sure it will give innocent pleasure to many". Barbara Ellen in The Observer, compared the show to "a strange Timotei advert, featuring fornication, shouting, horses, armour", whilst commenting that the sex scenes, toned down in the British version, "were so vanilla, I ended up fancying an ice cream".
Reviewing the final episode for The Daily Telegraph, Bernadette McNulty stated that the series, "fell between two stools—not serious enough for the scholars nor glitzy enough for the Game of Thrones fans". The ratings were however good. The first episode received 6 million viewers, stabilising at around the 4–4.5 million mark from the second episode, although occasionally it dipped below this on first broadcast figures.
Reception in the US
The White Queen received generally mixed reviews after airing on the Starz network on 10 August 2013. Joanne Ostrow of The Denver Post described the drama as "Sexy, empowering and violent". Linda Stasi of the New York Post agreed that the programme was a hit, saying "The White Queen [is] a royal winner". It was again unfavourably compared to HBO's high budget and fast-paced Game of Thrones. In comparison to Game of Thrones Neil Genzlinger speculated that "even if dragons were allowed, they’d mostly be lounging around and, between bouts of relatively tame dragon sex, talking about eating people rather than actually eating them". The performances of Janet McTeer and James Frain were praised by several American reviewers. Amanda Hale, despite receiving praise for her performance by British reviewers, was unfavourably reviewed by US critic Matthew Gilbert. He said "There were moments when I rolled my eyes—Amanda Hale, as the mother of young Henry Tudor, looks as if she is going to explode with ill intent. Really, her performance could be transposed into a Mel Brooks spoof". Louise Mellor of Den of Geek added "Why does Lady Margaret Beaufort constantly look like she is sucking on a Murray Mint?"TV Guide writer Matt Roush praised Hale's performance as "intense", and favoured the drama, labelling it as "fun", and on a one to ten scale, ranking it at seven.
The White Queen was nominated three times at the 71st Golden Globe Awards, with acting nominations for Ferguson and McTeer and an overall nomination for the miniseries in the Best Miniseries or Television Film category.
The White Queen was nominated for several awards including three Golden Globe Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards and a People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Movie/Miniseries.
71st Golden Globe Awards (2014)
- Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television – (Rebecca Ferguson)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television – (Janet McTeer)
66th Primetime Emmy Awards (2014)
66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (2014)
- Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score) – For episode: " The Final Battle"
- Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special – For episode: "The Price of Power"
- Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie
40th People's Choice Awards (2014)
- Favorite TV Movie/Miniseries
2014 Saturn Awards – Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
- SBest Television Release on DVD/Blu-ray
2014 ASC Award – American Society of Cinematographers
- Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Television Movie/Mini-Series – David Luther for Episode: "War at First Hand" (nomination)
OFTA Television Awards 2014 – Online Film & Television Association
Satellite Awards 2013
- Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Home media releases
|DVD title||Discs||Year||Episodes||DVD release||Notes|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|The complete series||4||2013||10||4 February 2014||19 August 2013||n/a||BBC version in region 2|
|Blu-ray title||Discs||Year||Episodes||Blu-ray Disc release||Notes|
|Region A||Region B||Region C|
|The complete series||3||2013||10||4 February 2014||19 August 2013||n/a||BBC version in region B|
The White Princess
Main article: The White Princess (miniseries)
Despite initial plans for a follow-up series, on 20 August 2013 the BBC announced they were not commissioning one, possibly due to the lukewarm reception the series received. However, in October 2013,The Telegraph reported that Starz was planning to develop a sequel miniseries called The White Princess, based on Gregory's 2013 novel of the same name.
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht announced in January 2014 that the network was working with White Queen screenwriter Emma Frost on the project. Starz would produce the White Princess miniseries without involvement from the BBC. Gregory confirmed that the project was underway in August 2015. On 7 February 2016, Gregory announced on Facebook that the sequel was officially confirmed to be in production, with the scripts being written. Production on the eight-episode miniseries began in June 2016. It aired weekly on Starz from 6 April to 4 June 2017.
The Spanish Princess
Main article: The Spanish Princess
On 15 March 2018, Starz announced that it would create a continuation of The White Queen and The White Princess to be titled The Spanish Princess, which would be based on Gregory's novels The Constant Princess and The King's Curse and centre on Catherine of Aragon. It premiered on 5 May 2019.
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The White Queen
Brother turns on brother. The throne of England is at stake. The deadly Wars of the Roses have begun. . . ."They ruled England before the Tudors, and now internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings the Plantagenets to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women."Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beaBrother turns on brother. The throne of England is at stake. The deadly Wars of the Roses have begun. . . ."They ruled England before the Tudors, and now internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings the Plantagenets to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women."Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, secretly marries the newly crowned boy king. While she rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become the central figures in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London. Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series....more
Hardcover, 415 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Atria Books
The White Queen
1416563687 (ISBN13: 9781416563686)
Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville, Richard III of England, Edward IV of England, Edward V of England...more, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, Cecily Neville, Perkin Warbeck, Jacquetta Woodville, Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers...less
England, 1464 (United Kingdom)
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We exchanged numbers. Outside the gate came the sound of a motor, a limousine waiting for the boy. Volodya jumped into the car, slammed the door and leaned out of the window.