TV review - Royal Paintbox (ITV) was a show of painterly competence not brilliance

The Mindy Project, E4

You could have predicted quite a lot of things about Royal Paintbox, Margy Kinmonth's film about the long tradition of monarchical artistic dabbling before seeing it, but I'm willing to bet that nobody would have guessed that it would contain an allusion to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Visits to royal archives, yes. Prince Charles chuckling self-deprecatingly about the quality of his watercolours, that too. Even, perhaps, the light wash of polemic about art education, given that the Prince isn't loath to mount that particular hobby horse when the opportunity presents. But a child's tricycle tracking shot, just like the one that trundles Danny through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel? That's a long shot, surely, in more than one sense of those words.

The Danny-cam view was summoned up by Prince Charles's memories of early life in Windsor and Buckingham Palace, pedalling through the state rooms, oblivious to the great art hung on every wall. And then "suddenly when I was 14 or so the pictures came into focus". That was one explanation, he implied, for his own interest in painting. The other explanation (and it's bound to appeal to someone whose entire life has been shaped by the hereditary principle) was genetics, the British royal line having been surprisingly rich in artistic hobbyists. Even Her Majesty had a go, when she was little, producing a perfectly creditable linocut of a circus horse. And Prince Philip, whose dreadful oil painting of the Queen having breakfast was one of the earlier exhibits here.

Most royals were a bit more deft with a brush, though their ability, it struck you more than once, was a relative thing. Royal artistic talent, like the royal sense of humour, depends less on the quality of the eventual product (whether they're jokes or watercolours) than on the fact that you never really expected a lot in the first place. Prince Rupert of the Rhine seems to have been genuinely skilled, helping to develop the art of the mezzotint, and Princess Louise could surely have made a go of it as a Victorian portrait sculptor if protocol had permitted, but in most other cases it was competence not brilliance that was on show here.

That told its own story though, and one that I suspect was congenial to Prince Charles. Because until the last century the ability to draw and paint was expected of anyone of reasonably privileged background. So Victoria could turn her hand to charming little watercolours of her children and Prince Louis of Battenberg earned a bit of pocket money by supplying pictures to The Illustrated London News while on a royal tour of India.

And lots of the royal children would have been required to achieve a basic proficiency with pencil and brush. It makes a kind of sense, surely. Nobody pushes a violin at a child and says, "Just express yourself." I wasn't entirely convinced, as the programme claimed, that we'd "discovered another side to the Prince of Wales" (though there was something poignant about his longing to leave some personal impression of his soul behind him, as if his pre-booked place in the history books could never be fully earned). But I was a little surprised to find myself agreeing with him about the value of learning to draw.

Somebody recommended The Mindy Project to me, so I took a look and now I find myself in an unmade Seinfeld episode... the one in which one of Jerry's friends raves about a new sitcom and insists he watches it and then he has to find a tactful way to describe his reactions, without blowing the friendship. What can I say that will pass? It's perky, I guess, if you don't mind that (I do... actually). Oh... and I laughed at the production company final credit, which has a peremptory voice saying "Go to bed". Very funny that last bit.

A scheduling confusion resulted in us publishing a review of next Monday's 'The Prisoners' in yesterday's television column. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

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.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser