Last night's viewing - William and Kate: the First Year, ITV1; The Hunt for Bin Laden, ITV1

 

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The Independent Culture

It must be a strange life being a member of the Royal Family, essentially condemned by birth to live in an open-air lunatic asylum. Every time you go anywhere, people temporarily go mad, and though their mania takes the form of uncritical adoration it must still be a little disconcerting.

How do you maintain your own sense of normality and human connection when even the most banal confirmation of ordinariness is played back to you as evidence of how special you are? "Kate takes out her own garbage," one of the commentators in William and Kate: the First Year said at one point, in the tone of voice you might employ if you'd just explained that she could walk from Anglesey to north Wales without using a bridge.

We were promised "the inside story of how William and Kate have stolen the nation's heart". We got a cheap-and-cheerful clip collage glued together with the spurious authority of "royal experts", a branch of scholarship that can get very gluey indeed. I think the high point (by which I mean the low point) was body-language expert Elizabeth Kuhnke, adeptly glossing the tradition-breaking second balcony kiss: "It was not rehearsed. It was spontaneous," she told us, deploying a lifetime's knowledge of royal osculation. "And it showed the passion. Those two are not afraid to touch each other." But Elizabeth had some pretty stiff competition in the field of royal drivel.

Runner-up was Victoria Arbiter (an unimprovable name for a royal expert, surely), who gushed obligingly about Kate's dress choices – the fact that she'd chosen to wear a high-street brand for a meeting with Barack Obama and his wife apparently having far-reaching implications for our constitutional settlement. In a brilliant display of unintentional irony, Victoria, who can produce monarchical gibberish with the best of them, later got on her high horse about the brief pregnancy hysteria that was triggered when Kate passed on the opportunity to eat a high-protein peanut bar while packing relief supplies for Unicef. "It's nonsense," said Victoria sternly, who knows whereof she speaks.

You won't be surprised to learn that Kate and William both got good reports, though it was Kate – as a novice and an incomer – on whom the burden of analysis fell. Fortunately, she didn't bite any of the patients during early hospital visits and proved capable of climbing stairs without falling over her own feet – both, in this field, taken as evidence of stellar quality. "It went flawlessly," Tim Ewart said of her first solo royal engagement, in which she demonstrated that she could visit an art gallery and say hello to some people she hadn't met before. You can just imagine how excited these people were to find out whether she could read aloud: "The world was waiting with bated breath," the voiceover said about her first public speech. I found myself in agreement with only one assessment – the often repeated assertion that all of this was best described as a "fairytale". They're right there. Complete fairytale.

It wasn't the only souvenir programme ITV was offering us last night, since they were also celebrating, if that's the word, the conclusion of the world's biggest ever game of hide-and-seek with The Hunt for Bin Laden. This was a sober and detailed account of the attempts to find and kill America's public enemy number one and it was – if truth be told – just a little dull, a chronological recap of fairly well-known material that necessarily pushed the consummating moment of success into the last few minutes. I was struck though by CIA agent Gary Schroen's understated response to an order to find Bin Laden and his lieutenants in Afghanistan and decapitate them, remitting Osama's head to Washington, while displaying the others: "Pikes we can probably improvise," he replied, "but I don't know what we're going to do about dry ice."

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