Catch up TV review: The Windsors Christmas Special, Prince Harry in Africa, The World’s Most Expensive Toys
James R | On 24, Dec 2016
The Windsors Christmas Special (All 4)
After Netflix’s The Crown, you’d think that no one could hope to match its depiction of the royal family on screen this year. You’d be wrong. The Windsors returns for a Christmas special and rather than dial things down for a respectful festive tribute, or attempt to find common ground in a country divided by Brexit, Channel 4’s comedy turns everything up to 11. And it’s all the funnier for it.
More a cartoon than a live-action programme, despite it being entirely performed by real people, its absurd take on the Windsors couldn’t be more disconnected from the truth. Haydn Gwynne’s Camilla has turned into Lady Macbeth, plotting to sabotage the seasonal holiday and push Kate into a mental breakdown. Richard Goulding’s Prince Harry is busy falling for Ellie Goulding, all vegetarian goodwill and hair-tossing smiles, much to the displeasure of Morgana Robinson’s hilariously scowling Pippa. And Harry Enfield’s Charles manages to turn his bumbling attempt at a Christmas Speech into an accidental declaration war upon the EU.
Yes, there are Brexit references and jokes about Nigel Farage, not to mention constant nods to the Windsors’ Germanic roots, but this isn’t a comedy rooted in satire: this is an out-and-out farce and it only gets more and more ridiculous. At the heart of that escalating silliness is Hugh Skinner’s Wills, who simpers and tries to be a man of the people with a dimwittedness that’s equal parts amusing and adorable. Add in tinsel fights, cookery fails and Princess Anne appearing every five minutes like the ghost of Miss Haversham and you have a inspiredly stupid hour of telly that will have you giggling in spite of yourself.
The World’s Most Expensive Toys (All 4)
From rocking horses covered in over 82,000 Swarovski crystals to £25,000 doll’s houses, this documentary meets the craftsmen and inventors creating toys for the children of Britain’s super-rich. What exactly is the point of the programme? It’s hard to tell. The result is oddly intriguing, but mostly bewildering – a combination that will leave you sighing at the gulf that exists between the wealthy and the rest of us, but is more likely to leave you feeling more grateful to be spending Christmas away from the shiny treasures and with more normal people.
Prince Harry in Africa (ITV Hub)
“It’s fun to be good and boring to be bad,” observes Prince Harry in ITV’s documentary, rounding off a year in which the country’s relationship with the royal has dominated the airwaves more than normal. The film follows HRH as he returns to Africa’s Lesotho, where he continues the work of Sentebale, a charity he established there a decade ago. He emerges as a hands-on helper, with a genuine passion to make a difference, a fondness for the children, who welcome him with songs while he dances around like a fool, and an ability to use his name to get other celebrities to pitch in. Interviewer Tom Bradby might be hoping for drama, as he raises the question of Princess Diana’s own charity work and its influence upon him, but what emerges is far more mundane – and likeable – as Harry comes across as a rather decent sort. We’d rather watch The Windsors, but this is a nice counterpoint to the Harry who attracted media headlines many years ago.
Photo: ITV / Big Earth Productions