Grace Dent on TV: These affable fops weren't nearly daft enough. Oh well, at least there was Courtney Love

The Aristocrats – Goodwood C4

Charles Gordon-Lennox is the Earl of March and Kinrara, heir to the Dukedom of Richmond, and owner of the luxury playground Goodwood. During the second part of the C4 documentary series The Aristocrats, the first having focussed on the Duke of Marlborough, it transpired that Charles Gordon-Lennnox is the most affable, considered and grounded individual.

For a whole hour, I watched Charles juggling the perilous finances of a race course, organic farm, golf course, hotel and motor circuit in a calm and empathetic manner. Not once did he karate chop an underling in fury over the temperature of his consommé, or explode in a flurry of fiddlesticks and f-words. Neither did he shoot an elephant in the skull, then have the tusks fashioned as a cigar box or so much as claim his title was bestowed unto him "by God". TV posho-wise, he was a right let-down. In fact, not bloody documentary material at all.

Last week's episode about Blenheim Palace's current custodian, the 11th Duke of Marlborough, John Spencer-Churchill was of a similar heart-warming vein. Where was my glorious, all-access car-crash of the Duke's infamous son Jamie Blandford, who for a time in the 1990s was more or less Pete Doherty in a top hat and spats. I tuned in expecting fighting, bitterness and disarray and found a harmonious family moving through their mistakes and rebuilding trust.

In fact, I was left wondering how they ever made it to screen at all. Blenheim has 187 rooms and 11,500 acres to maintain. With continuous wrangling, bean-counting and an army of staff, "Sunny" – the Duke of Marlborough's nickname – kept it profitable and in tip-top condition. Sarah Beeny or the cast of Country House Rescue didn't appear to scream at them.

I was hoping for at least one Duke in tweed with hay-bale eyebrows roaring about the neatness of their topiary peacocks, while ignoring their accountant's advice to open a tea shop, as the entire west wing crumbled. Or children cajoled via expensive boarding school into believing they're the mid point betwixt emperor and deity. From Audrey fforbes-Hamilton of To The Manor Born via C4's The Fucking Fulfords landing at those risible clots from Made In Chelsea, I know where I am with a feckless fop.

Instead these two documentaries displayed a more jarring side to inheriting a whopping architectural albatross. It's sublimely unfashionable today to have a flicker of sympathy for the British aristocracy, but I watched these quite certain that I'd never be truly content owning the 187-bedroom house. Of course, the parties could be fabulous. Of course, one could swish about the place like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey. Of course, it's better than digging a ditch or living under a bridge.

These are givens. But it would be a constant cloud, an undertaking, a labour of love. The staff cottage with a roaring fire, a pile of paperbacks and a couple of silly dogs to walk is where simple happiness lies. As Sunny's family joke went: the 1st Duke won the battle of Blenheim, the rest of the family is still fighting it. It's a lifelong, ever-depressing battle to keep the hulking great pile upright and in the family's ownership.

"Well give it to me then!" a thousand readers will roar. But it must play on one's mind, the pressure of not being The One. Him who messed things up. Him in the history books, who made a ginormous pig's ear of events and watched all the silver being sold to Dubai and the whole decaying pile turned into an Allied Carpet Warehouse with a kiddy's ballpond out the back.

With a distinct dearth of scandal or intrigue on offer, episode two focused heavily on one of Charles Gordon-Lennox's gala ball extravaganzas, which he'd made 287 times more difficult – and I can prove this with science and graphs – by inviting Courtney Love, who, we heard, is "rock 'n' roll royalty".

Courtney Love is anthropomorphised chaos at the best of times. Not particularly funny, interesting chaos, just a lot of surreal yadder and chat about legal feuds and "Here are my brand new best friends!" and "All of those people are my terrible sworn enemies," and "I don't want to talk about Kurt," and "Everyone listen while I talk about Kurt!" and "Courtney wants to play some songs," then "Courtney will be five or six hours late," and then "Courtney has left the building." I am exhausted even thinking about her. As this film was made, Charles Gordon-Lennox was in a phase of finding Love captivating and good value for money. He had asked her to "play a few numbers" for a heap of rich bankers in black tie and their fillies in large meringue gowns. Courtney arrived incredibly late, honked her way through "Sympathy for The Devil", slagged off the audience for "dancing like white people", took enormous umbrage at a request for a Nirvana track and flounced off stage after a lecture on "manners".

Love livened up the show, but it was difficult not to put on one's finest Dowager Countess expression and say, "Well my dear, this is what one gets when one invites the Americans."

ITV1's decision to show David Lynch's disturbing 197-minute surrealfest Inland Empire at 11pm last Monday to an audience more used to Cool Runnings.

This article appears in the 1 December issue of The Independent's Radar magazine

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?