When Channel 4 first announced that it was making a sitcom about The Royal Family from the writers of Star Stories and My Family (among many other shows, admittedly) I didn’t think it would ever be of interest, presuming it would end up being a tepid affair which was far too respectful of it’s characters. Indeed I didn’t even bother watching it initially until I heard on the grapevine that it was really funny, and though still sceptical I watched it and discovered that was indeed the case.
The main reason it works is that it’s not afraid to tear in to all of the characters and mock them relentlessly, William and Kate perhaps get the easiest ride but the others are portrayed as either fucking idiots, downright evil (in the case of Camilla, at least), or conniving scumbags (Andrew, then), with the masterstroke being that they completely ignore the Queen and Prince Phillip so that tabloid journalists and tedious cunts like that don’t have a reason to try and get the show cancelled.
Now on it’s third series after what was initially a worryingly long break since the Royal Wedding special, the gang are all back apart from the original actor who played Prince Harry (Richard Goulding) as he’s been replaced by Tom Durant-Pritchard due to a scheduling conflict. I was initially a bit concerned he wouldn’t be as good as Goulding was so superb in the role, but Durant-Pritchard manages to recreate the stupidity of the character without making it feel like a caricature, so I’ve no complaints on that front.
It was one of the weaker episodes however, still great in places but not quite as sharp as it usually is. Which could be down to the fact that while it’s normally far crazier than the real life antics of the Royal Family, since the show’s been away reality has become all kinds of insane, what with Prince Andrew definitely being a (lovely man – legal editor) and Harry and Megan buggering off to America and leaving the rest of them behind much to the horror of a surprisingly large amount of people.
Due to the show tackling these plotlines it felt less absurd than usual, the show’s always been packed with minor satire of their real lives but in general the sillier the plot the better the series was. The way they reflected the break up between the “Fab Four” younger royals was fine, with the odd amusing line or moment (some daftness with bananas being the funniest element) but it didn’t captivate in the way it usually manages too. Meanwhile Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was disappointingly only mentioned the once when he commented “Hey I just used to go to his parties, fly on his jet and stay in his house, I was never his friend” and I was hoping they’d be even more vicious to him, though it does seem from the series trailer that will be an element they return to.
Away from those aspects the rest of the episode was on much firmer ground thankfully, Beatrice and Eugenie’s latest plan to become self sufficient contained some lovely idiocy (the portrayal of Beatrice’s husband Jack as being pretty useless if he’s not promoting alcohol being particularly delectable), and Charles, Andrew, Edward and Anne had the best gags as they went on strike until they got paid even more, with Charles briefly persuading Will to join them by explaining how his kids might have to car pool in the future being a very funny moment, as was Kate’s panicked reaction to the idea she might have to watch the Chelsea Flower Show on tv.
Hopefully over the rest of the run they’ll capture the mixture of satirising reality and creating gloriously daft adventures for the characters in a more effective manner then, as it’s something they’ve done well in the past I’m optimistic they will. And despite my minor issues with this episode it’s still extremely endearing stuff, beautifully acted (with Hadyn Gwynn’s evil Camilla especially impressing) and packed with plenty of great gags, and so a series that’s still definitely worth checking out.