Cannadine's interpretation of the most honoured Englishman of his generation is based on the idea that Mountbatten ironically presided over British decline.
While he looked like he was deeply rooted in imperial tradition, he in fact spent his long public life playing the losing hand of national retreat from power.
He did this with great finesse and was personally rewarded for it.
In his relationship with the monarchy he was a close confidante and witness to the abdication of one sovereign and the decline of those that followed.
He was a playboy who was reconciled to the disappearance of the international society of jet-setting minor royals.Part one deals with Mountbatten's life and career up to his appointment as Viceroy of India, and is richly illustrated with archive including some material never before broadcast.