The Tichborne Claimant (film)

The Tichborne Claimant is a 1998 British dramatic film directed by David Yates and starring Robert Pugh, Stephen Fry, and Robert Hardy. The film is based on the Tichborne case, a historical case of identity theft. In 1854, Roger Tichborne, then-heir to the Tichborne Baronetcy disappeared while traveling in South America. He was thought likely to have set sail with the ship Bella, which was shipwrecked off the coast of the Empire of Brazil, with no known survivors. In 1865, Thomas Castro (an Australian butcher), started claiming to be the missing heir. The dispute over his identity lasted to his death in 1898, and he is mostly known as "the Claimant". While Castro is currently considered an impostor, doubts considering his real identity have persisted to the present.

The Tichborne Claimant
Directed byDavid Yates
Produced byTom McCabe
Written byJoe Fisher
StarringRobert Pugh
Stephen Fry
Robert Hardy
Music byNicholas Hooper
CinematographyPeter Thwaites
Edited byJamie Trevill
Distributed byRedbus Film Distribution
Release date
  • 12 November 1999 (1999-11-12) (UK)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Based on the Tichborne case, the film is set in the late 19th century. The film concerns a claimant to the Tichborne Baronetcy.

Lord Tichborne, the ninth-richest nobleman in England, disappears after a South American shipwreck. Some years later his erudite Afro-English valet, Bogle, is sent to investigate rumors that Tichborne survived and settled in Australia. An alcoholic ruffian answers Bogle's inquiries claiming to be the lost heir. Bogle suspects fraud, but conspires with the claimant to split the inheritance should the latter successfully pass himself off to friends, family and the courts. As the claimant returns to England to continue his charade, enough people confirm his identity to make both the claimant and Bogle believe that he just might be the rightful heir after all.


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