The Royals review: Liz Hurley is more Queen MILF than Queen Mum in this appalling drama

*No stars* Surprisingly, the real British monarchy is far more entertaining than this lot

I can’t describe how bad this is, but I must try. Liz Hurley plays Queen Helena, consort to King Simon (!), a haughty, ageing potty-mouthed vixen moving uncomfortably into middle age: Not so much a Queen Mum as Queen MILF, you might say.

She is, of course, about as far away from the present or any other Queen in the known universe as it is possible to imagine. As you can tell from one of the opening exchanges:

“Are you ready, your majesty?

“Of course I’m ready. When am I not ready? I’m the Queen of England. I’m always ready”.

I doubt Liz was ready for the script, though, and her solemn duty to utter lines such as “The footman nearly saw my snatch”; “You’re the King of England, goddammit”; and, of her wayward daughter, Princess Eleanor, “She’s stoned and eating the prime minister’s pie”.

Liz Hurley does her best with all this nonsense, and I actually admired her ability to keep a straight face while holding up a mock British tabloid with the banner headline “ROYAL BEAVER”, but I have to say she’s no Joan Collins, who remains reigning b***** queen of all time. (Joan turns up later in the series as the "Grand Duchess of Oxford". Naturally Britain doesn't have the title "Grand Duchess")

 

The plot, if such it is, concerns the King’s desire to abolish the monarchy because “the people need jobs”, a right royal non-sequitor if ever I heard one. The rest is pure pastiche; tragic death of young royal in Diana-style mysterious accident; drunken but sweet Prince Harry-type; slightly common unsuitable Chelsy-esque girlfriend (who is also American, so handily doubling up as a latter day Mrs Simpson); a saturnine Evil Uncle/Richard III type; silly Sloaney sisters based on Beatrice and Eugenie (one of whom declares that she’s “only a vaggie virgin. Not a blowie or a handie”).  You can see where all of it is going, too, as if you care. Imagine the very worst of Hollyoaks, Crossroads and Dynasty, and you’re getting closer to this regal televisual apocalypse.

The problem with this sort of stuff is that you need to be able to come up with something of subtlety and wit to compete with the real thing, like, say Michael Dobbs’ To Play the King, sequel to House of Cards, with the much-missed Ian Richardson; or Alan Bennett’s A Question of Attribution, with Pru Scales as HM (much overshadowed, unfairly, by Helen Mirren’s later effort).

The reality and history of the British monarchy is far more scurrilously entertaining: The current accusations about the Duke of York; the Queen counting the Twiglets; Princess Margaret’s raucous parties and 10am gin habit; Charles’ “tampon” conversation with Camilla; Diana’s “squidgy” tapes; the specially reinforced seat Edward VII had built for his favourite Paris brothel; Prince Albert’s unusual male jewellery; George III holding a conversation with a tree; Piers Gaveston and the red hot poker. We have centuries worth of majestic story-lines. Our monarchy is Britain’s gift to the world, the longest running, most compelling soap opera ever. By contrast “The Royals”, as our own dear Prince of Wales might conclude, really is appalling.

The Royals airs on E! at 15 March

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