Last Night's TV: God save the Queen, she's a human being

Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work, BBC1; Help Me Love My Baby, Channel 4

Two iconic women dominated the schedules again last night, one being honoured by a state banquet in Estonia, the other talking lasciviously of "lashings of eggnog cream". One was the Queen, the other Nigella Lawson, and you've probably guessed which was which, although I couldn't help wishing it had been the other way round: a little stiff protocol might stop Nigella flirting with the camera in such an unseemly fashion, while I have no doubt that lashings of eggnog cream would do Her Majesty a power of good.

A further power of good is being done to her by Monarchy: the Royal Family at Work, a kind of update in five parts of the 1969 documentary Royal Family, which, impeccably reverential though it was, some hoary royalists hold responsible even now for diminishing the mystique that surrounded the Windsors, and encouraging the media intrusion that would ultimately let the nation into the secret that Charles wished to be reincarnated as Camilla's tampon.

Monarchy, though, is licensed media intrusion, entirely tampon-free, and none the worse for it. The Queen comes across not only as irreproachably industrious, which even the most fervent republican would acknowledge her to be, but also admirably sound. Last night we saw both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown nervously kowtowing in her presence, very much in the manner of head boys summoned to the study of a benign but firm headmistress, and looking a little ill-at-ease to find themselves no longer cocks of the walk.

The cameras followed Blair's final visit to Balmoral as Prime Minister. Doing a truly uncanny Dame Helen Mirren impression, the Queen made effortless small talk to which Tony didn't seem quite equal. "The garden's looking very nice, isn't it?" she said. "Have you seen the new gazebo?" Blair either hadn't or wasn't at all sure what to say about it. Maybe he was too preoccupied with his legacy and didn't want to risk going off on an inappropriate tangent, saying that yes, he'd admired the new gazebo, and frankly the world was very much better off without the old gazebo, a monster of a gazebo, and, y'know, he made no apologies for his part in getting rid of it. Instead, he just muttered something in the affirmative and smiled like a Cheshire cat.

The Queen does have a strange effect on people. The wife of Britain's ambassador to Estonia twittered like an anxious budgie before, during and after the royal visit to Tallinn, pronouncing herself and her husband lucky, very, very lucky, that such a thing was happening on their humble watch. Estonia, I can tell you, was the 132nd country that the Queen had visited during her reign. That was my second-favourite fact from this programme. My first was that ermine is made from the winter coat of a stoat.

Anyway, back to Tallinn, where the maitre d' of the establishment hosting the state banquet vos vorried about table number three, vich had von chair zat vos completely vobbly. His accent was infectious. I prayed that ze ambassador's vife vouldn't get ze vobbly chair, since she vos vobbly enough already. The maitre d' also confided that he had hidden a box of tissues behind the flowers in case Her Majesty felt the urge to sneeze. And people say we should get rid of the monarchy. What other head of state would inspire such tender solicitude from an Estonian waiter? President Kinnock?

Whether or not the royal nostrils were tickled and the tissues deployed we did not discover. But we were allowed in on a briefing with the lucky, very, very lucky British Airways crew given the job of getting the royal party safely to the Baltic. Gin and Dubonnet in a 70:30 ratio for the Queen, bitter for the Duke of Edinburgh, and a selection of newspapers with the Racing Post uppermost, or next week you'll be cleaning the Terminal Four lavs at Heathrow, was more or less the message.

The message of the documentary Help Me Love My Baby was altogether more upbeat: no matter how despairing a new mother gripped by a form of post-natal depression might be, parent-infant therapy can show her a way through.

The therapist was Dr Amanda Jones from the Anna Freud Centre in London, an extremely pretty woman in the hallowed tradition of media psychoanalysis. Generally speaking, psychoanalysis is not synonymous with pulchritude. The hairier the chin the better the shrink, is a reliable rule of thumb, and that goes for the men as well. But television changes the rules and Dr Amanda Jones is a find. She'll be back on the box; I'll stake my couch on it.

Last night she helped a 21-year-old woman called Sophie, who loved Mia, one of her twins, but felt hostile towards the other one, Gracie. Sophie's feelings were predictably entangled with memories of her own mother, who behaved monstrously towards her, and whose eyes she thought she saw in Gracie. Dr Jones helped her sort out the tangle. By the end, Sophie and Gracie were smiling at each other, and I was cheering.

Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work BBC1

Help Me Love My Baby. Channel 4

b.viner@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

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

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past