Charles on Charles
A TV spectacular in which Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, looks at his predecessor Charles II and doesn't much like what he sees. "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," runs part of his commentary. "It's very easy to sit in France for a few years, as Charles did, and criticise everything that is going on in England, rather as my great-uncle the Duke of Windsor did, but is it really very helpful? I think not. I think it might have been more dignified if Charles had just kept quiet in exile.
Of course, Charles II was also accused of collaborating with the enemy, Louis XVI, just as Edward was accused of being a toady to Hitler, but it's very easy to sit here in England and criticise everything that's going on abroad. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.... No wonder he had his head cut off." Not only is Charles on Charles said to be heavy going, but he may have been mixing up his Charleses.
Anne on Anne
An unusual documentary in which Princess Anne looks at Queen Anne's little- known involvement with children, wildlife preservation and show-jumping.
Malcolm on Malcolm
Malcom Rifkind takes a fresh look at King Duncan's son, Malcolm, who was forced to flee Scotland when Macbeth murdered his father and seek aid from the English. "I think one can sympathise with Malcolm," says Rifkind.
"There he was, in a foreign capital, trying to get the best possible deal for his own country with very little bargaining power, and with a Scottish accent which must have sounded very tired and strangled after years spent abroad.
"Well, I can sympathise with that, anyway."
Arthur on Arthur
"What a geezer!" says Arthur Smith in this sensitive portrait of King Arthur. "Always losing his sword and having to nick one! Sometimes he'd claim he'd taken it out of a stone, sometimes he'd say a hand clad in white came out of a lake waving it.... Well, all I can say is that if I came up in court today accused of nicking a sword and I said I'd got it from a hand in a lake, I'd be sent for further psychological study, and quite right, too, I say...."
Diana on Diana
For several hours, we are told in the Bible, the inhabitants of Ephesus ran about crying "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!", and nobody could stop their idolatry. Princess Diana wonders what kind of an effect this must have had on Diana, what a body blow this must have dealt to a sensitive, shy young goddess, and she spends a lot of time telling us. Martin Bashir plays a walk-on part as a scribe, while Duke Hussey is seen in the background at one point as a Christian protesting against all the licence-payers' money being spent on a mere goddess, but he is swept away to a horrible death.
Victoria on Victoria
A praiseworthy attempt by Victoria Wood to break out of her northern frame of reference and treat a wider, historical subject. When Julie Walters as Queen Victoria says to Gladstone, "Here, Bill, if the sun never sets on the British Empire, how the bloody hell does anyone ever get to sleep?", you know it is going to be a portrayal of the Great Queen not like any other. The scene where Victoria breaks out of her years of mourning for Albert by popping down the local Tesco at opening time in disguise to get a bottle of Wincarnis is very touching, though Robbie Coltrane as John Brown is perhaps a touch too lecherous for a Bafta award.
Stephen on Stephen
Stephen Fry's portrait of King Stephen, last Norman king of England, will be too subtle for those of us who know nothing about King Stephen. Did they really have lots of country house parties in 13th-century England attended by Queen Matilda (Emma Thompson), Prince Henry (Kenneth Branagh), and lots of hangers-on (Tony Slattery)? Well, maybe so.
Jean-Paul on Jean-Paul
"Mon dieu, 'e 'ad no idea 'ow to dress. Simone de Beauvoir 'ad a lot to answer for ..." These are the opening words of Gaultier on Sartre. It goes on like that for a long time.Reuse content