The Windsors, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews
The Windsors, Channel 4
The Windsors, Channel 4
Gloriously rude spoof of the royals
There’s little chance, I would guess, that the Windsors were gathered on the sofa to watch The Windsors last night. The show, thankfully, is not another attempt to oil up the collective fundament of the British royal family (and goodness knows television producers were doing enough of that in programmes about the Queen’s 90th birthday recently), more an attempt to destroy it by spoof.
Royalists needn’t worry about the imminent downfall of their favourites, though; as funny as much of The Windsors is, there’s nothing much to challenge the crown in George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler-Moore’s scripts. It's just gloriously rude about the lot of them, characterising them as lazy, stupid, money-grabbing or feckless.
Much of the show is predictable. The heavy-drinking, heavy-smoking Camilla (Haydn Gwynne) schemes against "lower orders" Kate (Louise Ford), who comes from a Gypsy family; Charles (Harry Enfield) is obsessed with taking over the throne; and Pippa (she of the “fantastic arse”, much mined for comedy here) is a golddigger trying to bag the permanently confused Harry (Richard Goulding revisiting the character he played on stage in King Charles III) – and she’s really mean to the saintly Kate.
It’s broad-brush comedy and, even allowing for the genre’s conventions, the characters are occasionally writ too large; Harry, for instance, can’t read or write. Now there’s dim, and there’s ridiculously dim, but I can’t yet see how it serves the narrative to make him that thick.
The writers have no care for political correctness and they just – only just – get away with the Gypsy jokes (and others about Ebola) because they’re funny and often throwaway. Wills (Hugh Skinner reprising posh dimmo Will from W1A with even more strangulated vowels) hilariously mispronounces it as “Gyp-sah”, while Kate says: “I promised Dad I’d help him put a curse on Rick Stein.”
There are more subtle gags, some of them visual (Charles’s biscuits are the “Dutchee” brand, for instance), and there’s some mildly subversive satire in there if you look hard enough. Adam Miller directs at a fizzing pace – even if it dips any time we leave the royals or they go out among their subjects.
Clearly every member of the cast is having a hoot doing their impersonations, and it’s a very strong ensemble that includes Ellie White and Celeste Dring as Made in Chelsea airheads Beatrice and Eugenie, completely thrown by the concept of working for a living or paying for a holiday; Katy Wix as Fergie, always excluded but trying to get back in with the family; and Morgana Robinson as the scheming Pippa, just working that ass.
The best joke, one of many in last night's double-bill opener of the six-part series, is the scabrously rude and sweary missives that Prince Philip (unseen, as is the Queen) sends to all his relatives. All in all, it’s daft but harmless fun.
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