The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty
72 Films have done it again. Following the extraordinary House of Assad and The Mighty Redcar, the production company has delivered another tremendously gripping documentary miniseries, this time focusing on the Murdoch family.
This incredible three-part series chronicles the rise, fall and rise of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. The young magnate’s journey is somewhat expedited, as episode one quickly depicts his takeover of major tabloid newspapers in Australia and the UK, including News of the World and The Sun. The focus then shifts to how he was able to use his influence to help elect Britain’s next prime minister in the late 90s. The alliance between Murdoch’s media holdings and any politician wanting to cosy up to him is a big theme of this series. Frankly, it’s terrifying to see how key political positions of our country, from the premierships of Blair and Cameron to the Brexit vote, have essentially been decided by Murdoch and his friends over some champagne in one of his private garden parties. In between these activities, there’s lots of soap opera material in the form of the mogul’s failed marriages.
The second episode chronicles the downfall of News of the World after the phone-hacking scandal, a saga that will never not be enraging no matter how many times we hear about it, but the paper’s editor Rebekah Brooks continues to remain an enigma. Episode three sees Murdoch return to power when Trump and Farage seek to be in business with him, but the looming question is about succession. Series director Jamie Roberts is shrewd enough to provide answers on what to expect when Rupert is out of the picture.
The genius of this show is in the striking graphic of an ever-expanding family tree. It begins with Rupert and his children, and as we’re presented with more and more compelling information, it grows to include newspaper editors, TV network owners and American presidents.
Whilst none of the titular family members opt to speak for this series, there’s an excellent set of talking heads here. Key participants come from both the press, such as Andrew Neil and Piers Morgan, and the political sphere, including John Prescott, Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon. Rupert Murdoch may be a figure we can learn a lot about by simply reading his Wikipedia page, but the incisive filmmaking here searingly delves into the heart and mind of this infamous man.
The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty is released on BBC iPlayer on 14th July 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty here: