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Wellington: the Iron Duke. BBC2, Fridays, May 31-June 14, 9.50pm.

Professor Richard Holmes offers an affectionate but critical biography of one of English history's most fascinating figures.

Wellington reached his apotheosis at Waterloo, before reinventing himself for a disastrous career as prime minister. Holmes, excellent on the military brilliance that ensured great victories in the Peninsular War, is equally effective on the Iron Duke's political weaknesses and peculiarities of character.

Arthur Wellesley was, in many ways, an unlovable figure, an unkind husband, a strict disciplinarian and a reactionary. He is easy to dislike, but difficult not to admire. "His virtues shine out across the years," Holmes concludes. "He was sometimes stubborn or short-sighted, but built on a grand scale."

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