So, as you watched the work of architects and designers, stone-masons, gilders, plasterers and joiners, every scene seemed to carry an emblematic meaning alongside its literal one. What about the rot-hounds, for example, labradors trained to sniff out the hidden sources of decay deep within the Windsor framework - what might they stand for? And if you were seeking an optimistic metaphor for the promised modernisation of the monarchy, would you really need to go any further than the story of the medieval kitchen roof, an authentic detail which had been half obscured by George IV's architect, Wyatville; he regarded it as nowhere medieval enough and so he added softwood gothic ornaments, all of which were burned away by that clarifying fire. Now it has been restored to its authentic simplicity. What's more, didn't the new private chapel - a rather striking exercise in what you might call Islamic Perpendicular - neatly embody Prince Charles' aspirations for the future of "the Firm" itself - modern in technique but solidly respectful of history. ("It's not what they love to call a pastiche" he muttered at one point, making another little sally in his continuing skirmish with modern architecture.)
No film-maker would have been able to avoid these suggestive echoes, but given that the producer here was one Edward Windsor (unbeatable contacts, you understand) it was hardly surprising that the film should make so much of the opportunities to be seized from catastrophe - in particular the way that a disaster can clear the ground for a new start. His film ended with the queen unveiling the completed work and making an emotional and tight-throated speech of thanks to the assembled workers, who then reciprocated like the stout yeomen they were, with loyal cliches and expressions of job satisfaction. Republicans might well have taken exception to some of these - "They've really done us proud", for example, which seemed the wrong way round entirely, or the forelock-tugging fiction that "It belongs to all of us you know". But even the fiercest republican might have been stirred by the pride in their craft these men displayed. If only they could as easily turn their skills to the ravaged fabric of the monarchy itself.
Men Behaving Badly (BBC1, 9.30) in common with other programmes in this latest series, contained strong jokes alongside absolute stinkers. Last night, the two couples went to stay in a rented caravan, an implausible excursion clearly inspired by authorial claustrophobia rather than any consistency of characterisation (and perhaps inspired too by memories of the sublime Father Ted episode in which the priests went on a caravanning holiday). While there, Gary tried to give up smoking (several good jokes, including the grotesque sight of someone sucking tomato-sauce off a cigarette in a desperate attempt to render it smokeable) and Tony demonstrated his lovestruck paranoia about being able to hold on to Deborah (bad jokes, requiring the utterly incredible intervention of two nearby campers to winch the lines into place). You can't help feeling that the series needs a longer break than just a weekend in the country.Reuse content