Mr Windsor swaps stage for the small screen

Prince Edward has made his debut as a television presenter. Rhys Williams reports
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The Independent Online
Edward Windsor joining forces with Michael Grade, the man branded Britain's "pornographer-in-chief" last week for his channel's risque programming? What on earth would his mother make of that?

"I don't know, I left the family the tapes to watch at the weekend," Mr Windsor, 31 - who said he did not think it right "to trade on my title" - told a press conference convened yesterday to launch his new series for Channel 4.

Presented by Mr Windsor and made by his own production company, Ardent, the series explores real tennis, one of the world's oldest and certainly more arcane sports.

In fact, in Channel 4's history of marginal sports' coverage, Real Tennis will be right up there with Kabaddi, snowboarding and nude tiddlywinks.

Over three weeks, beginning this Saturday, viewers will learn to distinguish their tambour from their dedans, as well as understand a little about the origins of the word "love" in tennis scoring (for the record - a zero is shaped like an egg, French for egg is l'oeuf, corrupted in English to "love", et voila, love means nothing). They will also hear from an Australian former world champion that the version of the game practised by Messrs Muster and Agassi is "peasants' tennis".

That was not a view held by Mr Windsor, who quickly pointed out: "It's not an elitist sport, it's just that there aren't very many courts at the moment." In Britain, there are 22 courts shared between about 3,000 players.

A keen player himself, he stumbled upon the game while studying at Cambridge. "I was looking for the most gentlemanly game I could find, I'd given up rugby because of injuries," he said.

How had Mr Windsor prepared for his debut as a television presenter? Had a lifetime in front of the cameras in his role with the Royal family helped?

"I've done a bit of amateur dramatics in my time," he explained. "But otherwise I claim to be entirely an amateur at this. I definitely see myself as a producer rather than a presenter."

Rupert Rumney, co-producer of Real Tennis, thought Mr Windsor was surprisingly relaxed and comfortable on screen, barring the odd mannerism. "You will never get the manners out of the man, but that's what years and years of the Royal family does for you.

"They have a way of playing with their hands. I suppose it's because someone has told them that if you let your hands wander you'll end up picking your nose, or scratching something you shouldn't, and then someone will take a picture of you."