The First Georgians, TV review: Another crowning moment for livewire Lucy Worsley
TV historians these days come in all shapes and sizes, some so forgettable that I am not so much struggling to fit a name to a face as to recall their names and faces in their first place. No such problem with Lucy Worsley, or Dr Lucy Worsley as a caption reminded us at the start of her latest BBC4 series, The First Georgians – a timely reminder that Worsley is so much more than just an enthusiastic television personality.
Not that her perkiness, or her habit of jumping into period costume whenever the fancy takes her (less in evidence last night than of fore) is to be sniffed at – you can't fake this stuff, and when it's backed by scholarship partly gleaned from her day job as a curator of historic buildings, then we're talking 24-carat TV gold. She seems to genuinely relish the dead people she is disinterring, along with their foibles – although the early Hanoverians, Georges one and two, were disappointingly short of these.
Worsley describes George I as "uncharismatic and not particularly impressive", unlike his mum, Sophia the Electress of Hanover, who liked nothing better than to hunker down with the philosopher Leibniz to discuss the nature of the human soul. Sophia, whom Parliament had chosen to rule over of us because she was the nearest Stuart relative not to be a Papist, was "the greatest queen we never had", according to Worsley, unfortunately kicking the royal bucket just two months before Queen Anne, the reigning British monarch whose 17 pregnancies had come to nought.
Worsley identifies with intelligent, lively women. George II's wife, Caroline, who introduced smallpox inoculation (when she wasn't ruling Britain for her often absent husband), she calls "my favourite queen". In comparison, predecessors Mary and Anne were "badly educated and dull as ditchwater." Worsely didn't wag her finger at this point – that admonishment being reserved for George II's habit of taking a siesta.
The dullness of the first two Georges proved to be to the benefit of Great Britain, which, under these German kings, became even greater – the most liberal country in Europe, brimming with satirical novels and newspapers being read by an increasingly wealthy middle-class gathered in coffee houses. Next time you visit Starbucks to read your Private Eye, you will know whom to thank.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender says showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson 'can't front ITV motoring show' due to BBC contract clause
Amy Winehouse film: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' movie as it scores highest ever UK opening for British documentary
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy