Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender

Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender is an Emmy/Rose d'Or award-winning 2012 feature-length documentary film about Queen singer Freddie Mercury and his attempt to forge a solo career. The film is a British venture co-produced by EMP and Mercury Songs for Eagle Rock Entertainment with Eagle Rock serving as distributor.[1]

Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender
Freddie Mercury The Great Pretender promo image.jpeg
Promotional image
Directed byRhys Thomas
StarringFreddie Mercury
(archival footage)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
ProducersRhys Thomas
Jim Beach
Joss Crowley
CinematographyRic Clark
EditorChristopher Bird
Running time65 minutes (UK TV edit)
  • 1:25:05 (standard TV version)
  • 1:47:00 (DVD director's cut version)
Production companyEagle Rock; Mercury Songs Ltd
Original networkBBC One
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Original release16 October 2012 (2012-10-16)
External links
eagle rock films

Directed by Rhys Thomas and produced by Jim (Miami) Beach, Rhys Thomas and Joss Crowley. The documentary premiered on BBC One in edited form as part of the Imagine series, and later the Director's Cut was shown on BBC Four. It gained 3.5 million viewers when aired on BBC One in October 2012 and a further 1.2 million when shown on BBC Four.



Produced and directed by Rhys Thomas, a lifelong Queen fan and expert. Thomas focused on archive material of Mercury, going back to 1976 in search of footage to show the story of Mercury's life, career and the solo projects including the Mr. Bad Guy album, he had worked on outside of Queen.[2] The producer, editor and director of photography behind the 2011 BBC documentary Queen: Days of Our Lives.


The film was exclusively broadcast on the British television channel BBC One on 16 October 2012 at 10:35pm in England and Scotland and 11:05pm in Wales and Northern Ireland with an edited version of 65 minutes.[3][4] The documentary coincided with the release of the new Barcelona Special Edition album with Mercury and Caballé's original album re-recorded with a full 80-piece orchestra (a feature on the making of this album is included on both formats) and a new book, also entitled The Great Pretender, with matching artwork.


On 6 September 2012 the official trailer was released on YouTube by Eagle Rock Entertainment.[5]

Home mediaEdit

The Great Pretender was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download through Eagle Vision Media on 24 September 2012.[6] It was released in the United States on 25 September from Eagle Rock Entertainment.[7] The length of the film on home media is approximately 1 hour 47 minutes.[8] All formats include the extended version that was not aired on BBC One. The bonus features added on DVD and Blu-ray are "Freddie Mercury Goes Solo" a seven-minute interview, an extended seven-minute interview with Montserrat Caballé and a five-minute documentary the Making Barcelona: Special Edition 2012.[9]

The film debuted at #3 on the Official UK Music Video Chart on 30 September 2012, based on sales of DVDs and other physical formats.[10]


After the original BBC One broadcast in October, an extended director's cut aired on BBC Four on 29 and 30 December 2012 and then on BBC Four HD at 11:00pm on 5 January 2013. The director's cut features 25 minutes of extra footage.[11] It was also aired in Australia on ABC2 in December 2012 with it being aired again in 2018 on SBS due to the release of the biographical film Bohemian Rhapsody.[12][13] The documentary was broadcast on British television channel Pick on 20 April 2019 to coincide with the 27th anniversary of The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.[14]


Critical responseEdit

Sarah Rainey for The Telegraph wrote "with so much of Mercury’s career already explored, and legions of Queen fans attending sell-out We Will Rock You performances in the West End (now in its 10th year), it is difficult to tread new ground. But Yentob’s affectionate tribute captured Mercury in a new light.", giving it a rating of 3/5 stars.[15] Guardian critic Caroline Sullivan said "In the BBC programme – its title taken from a 1987 solo single – Mercury emerges as anything but boring. Skittish, exasperating and endearing, yes, but never dull.[16]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
British Academy Film Awards 10 February 2013 Breakthrough Talent Rhys Thomas (Director) Nominated [17]
Rose d'Or 30 May 2013 Arts Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender Won [18][19]
International Emmy Award 25 November 2013 Arts Programming Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender Won [20]


Charts (2012) Peak
Australian Top 40 DVDs Chart (ARIA) 6 [21]
Austrian Music DVDs (Ö3 Austria) 5 [22]
Belgian (Flanders) Music DVDs (Ultratop) 3 [23]
Belgian (Wallonia) Music DVDs (Ultratop) 1 [24]
Dutch Music DVD Chart (MegaCharts) 3 [25]
Swiss Music DVD Chart (Hitparade) 7 [26]
UK Official Music Video (OCC) 3 [27]
US Music Video Sales (Billboard) 4 [28]


  1. ^ 'The Great Pretender' Was Also the Real Deal -
  2. ^ Imagine... Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, BBC One, review
  3. ^ Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender | BBC One, 16 October 2012
  4. ^ BBC Four - Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender - Director's Cut
  5. ^ Freddie Mercury - The Great Pretender [Trailer] - YouTube
  6. ^ Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender Blu-ray | United Kingdom | Eagle Vision Media | 2011 | 107 min | Rated Exempt | 24 September 2012
  7. ^ Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender Blu-ray | United States | Eagle Rock Entertainment | 2011 | 107 min | Not rated | 25 September 2012
  8. ^ Eagle Rock Entertainment Presents Freddie Mercury The Great Pretender DVD, Blu-ray, And Digital Video - 25 September 2012
  9. ^ 'The Great Pretender' Was Also the Real Deal -
  10. ^ Official Music Video Chart Top 50 - 30 September 2012 – 06 October 2012
  11. ^ BBC Four - Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender - Director's Cut
  12. ^ Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender - 3 December 2012
  13. ^ Networks serve up Queen specials - 29 October 2018
  14. ^ Pick, Saturday, 20 April 2019 | Schedules |
  15. ^ Imagine... Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, BBC One, review
  16. ^ Feddie Mercury: the great enigma | Music | The Guardian
  17. ^ Television Craft in 2013 | BAFTA – Television Craft | Breakthrough Talent in 2013
  18. ^ ROSE D'OR AWARDS 2013 - Press 2013 tab for winners list
  19. ^ 2013 ROSE D’OR WINNERS ANNOUNCED - 30 May 2013
  20. ^ November 2013 – International Academy of Television Arts ...
  21. ^ ARIA Top 40 Music DVD - Week Commencing 8th October 2012 | The ARIA Report
  22. ^ AUSTRIA TOP 40 - MUSIK-DVD | 05.10.2012
  23. ^ Muziek-Dvd - De DVD Ultratop 10 zette wekelijks - Ultratop - 06/10/2012
  24. ^ L'Ultratop 10 DVD donnait - Ultratop - 27/10/2012
  25. ^ DUTCH DVD MUSIC TOP 30 - 29/09/2012
  26. ^ SWISS CHARTS - MUSIC DVD TOP 10 Week 7/10/2012
  27. ^ Official Music Video Chart Top 50 - 30 September 2012 – 06 October 2012
  28. ^ Music Video Sales - as compiled by Nielsen... 13 October 2012