TV review, The Windsors Royal Wedding Special (Channel 4): The perfect vaccine to Harry and Meghan fever

Only a few more days now, but I’m already fully inoculated against “royal wedding fever”. You see, I willingly submitted myself to a one-hour long ocular administration of The Windsors Royal Wedding Special, a powerful booster dose for us monarcho-sceptics. I am now confident that I shall able to ignore the fact of two wealthy and, for all I know, perfectly pleasant people I’ve never met getting married – either the couple doing so for the telly at Windsor Castle, or the countless others doing so across the land.

I mean ask yourself this: would you actually want to spend today trying to gate-crash a wedding you’ve not been invited to – even if you knew the happy couple? Exactly. 

Like the regular Windsors series the Royal Wedding Special was devastatingly well-scripted and acted, and it was great to see all the old cast lined up again – the “Fab Four” (Wills, Kate, Meghan, Harry), the bitter old Camilla, the bitter old Princess Royal and the bitter young Pippa Middleton. The richly crafted attention to verbal and visual detail is so compelling it demands a second viewing, the comedy as coruscating as any dowager duchess’ tiara.

I especially, for example, admired the climactically constructed list of Prince Harry’s proposed stag do mates “Rupes, Johnny, Grunter, Spunky, Nobbles, Shagmonster, Vomalot, Lord Piss Bucket and Mr Dirt Chute” – all excluded from Meghan’s sanitised alternative by yoga and wheat grass smoothies (“but, Meghan,if you could just meet Lord Piss Bucket”).

Sadly Harry gets quite the wrong idea of what to expect from a special performance of The Vagina Monologues and, naturally, ends up in a police cell dressed up as Adolf Hitler. Near the bone, that, but, well, not so very far from reality. They also dared to put Harry in a pair of plastic comedy boobs (like Paul Gascoigne used to clown about in), something I never thought I would see again in this country. So thanks for that, Channel 4, and writers George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler-Moore.  

The Windsors performs the invaluable public duty of reminding us at times such as this that the royals really do not matter, and haven’t since the Bill of Rights was passed in 1689.  And the sixth in line to the throne matters even less than most of the rest of them don’t matter.

As Prince Charles, once again rendered with a magnificent display of double-breasted gurning by Harry Enfield, gently vouchsafes to his younger son, the increasingly redundant, albeit lovable, “spare”: “It would take quite the plane crash to see you on the throne.”   

As usual,  the grotesque uber-sloanes Beatrice and Eugenie, plus mum Fergie, (Ellie White, Celeste Dring, Katy Wix) steal the show, and the introduction of a dishy version of Jeremy Corbyn as a bit of love interest for one of either Bea or Eugenie (as in real life, I can never remember which is which) was inspired. Hearing Beatrice/Eugenie drawl that the wedding is “just a vulgar display of money by the ruling elite… the puppets of the bourgeois oppressors” was exactly the right vaccination for me.

Laughter, they say is the best medicine, and in this case it acts as a kind of penicillin (and is also handily easier to spell/pronounce than flucloxacillin).  

 “The wedding is really the whole point of having a royal family”, Eugenie/Beatrice/can’t-remember-which-is-which-declares, shrewdly enough. The institution is indeed just a branch of showbiz, a sort of never-ending Gilbert and Sullivan inspired “scripted reality” soap opera, and there purely to entertain us with gossip, trivia and the poignant pleasures of class envy and resentment towards entrenched privilege and unearned wealth.

There’s the repeat of Prime Minister’s Questions on the BBC Parliament channel scheduled for the same time as the royal wedding, and I’d rather watch that. 

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A Cape pangolin from Namibia: cute, but doomed (BBC)

I’m not sure how many more wildlife documentaries along the lines of Pangolins: the World’s Most Wanted Animal I can cope with. Too many deaths at once, I feel. This subgenre conforms to a template roughly as follows; Sir David Attenborough narrates; attention is focused on en endearing critically endangered creature; but also on some plucky humans trying to save them from extinction; heart-rending scenes of the human conservationist encountering the bagged-up corpses of their smuggled favourite creature at some airport terminal, usually in East Asia; plus, at the end, some scant hope represented by the work of the hopelessly underfunded endangered species reserve.

So I was sort of ready for the Pangolin to get the usual moving treatment, and sympathetically so, but, as I say, it’s just so overwhelmingly depressing and the battle to save these creatures so plainly unwinnable I feel like just letting the poachers get on with it and save us all more upset. Sorry, pangolins, elephants, rhinos, orang-utans, gorillas, pandas, sea cows, snow leopards, sea cows, butterflies and bees, but I reckon you’ve all had it. We’ll miss you, though, if only for all the nice footage.  

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