Friday, 27 June 2008

A right Royal rascal...

Oonagh Robinson looks back at the week's TV...

Normally, I couldn’t give a stuff about any programme focussing on our Dullsville Royal family, but Snowdon and Margaret (Channel 4, Weds) was strangely compelling.

Maybe it was because they were both so glamorous and hung around with Peter Sellers, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton so much.

But maybe it was also because they just seemed a bit more human than that other lot.

At the start of this racy documentary, we kept being told how charismatic and Bohemian Tony Armstrong Jones used to be. Looked like a horse just the same as all the other Royals to me, but you have to take people’s word for it sometimes.

He was shamelessly rejected by his posh mum as a child. She once put him and one of his sisters in third class on the train, while another sibling travelled in second class and the “favourite” went in first. Is there no end to the cruelty of the upper classes?

Despite such setbacks, Tone soon became a world class photographer and was bedding virtually everyone in London by the time he met Princess Margaret. Even after he met her, actually.

The happy couple soon got married and everything was wonderful for a while - but old habits die hard and Tony was soon up to his old tricks.

It all ended rather horribly with Snowdon leaving nasty notes to his missus in her glove box saying: “You look like a Jewish manicurist, and I hate you.” Charming.

Course, him being such a rat and fathering 20 or 30 kids outside of wedlock (well, nearly) and all that didn’t stop the public blaming Margaret for the embarrassing divorce.

Even the Queen herself still thought Tone was a smashing bloke after the split.

Something tells me she didn’t know half the story...

The Supersizers (BBC2, Tues) were in Regency England this week - where they were mostly eating cheese on toast.

Sue Perkins and Giles Coren continued their highly enjoyable exploration of historical diets with a look at what posh folk ate in the early 19th century.

The former Prince Regent himself, we learned, once breakfasted on an enormous pigeon pie and oodles of champagne. He was dead four weeks later, mind.

And Nottingham’s own Lord Byron was a bit of a “Manorexic.”

Yes, after ballooning in his early 20s, the poet soon developed all sorts of eating disorders and became one of the faddiest eaters around.

Most disgusting of all, he insisted on using a whole egg to whiten his tea. Which didn’t look poetic at all, let me tell you.

Giles was quite encouraged when after a week on game, red wine, champagne, sweetmeats, steak and cheese on toast for breakfast, luncheon and dinner, he hadn’t ended up with gout and had only put one or two pounds on.

Maybe he needed to do it for an entire lifetime to really feel the benefit...

Ooh, we have been missing Adrian Chiles on The One Show (BBC1, weekdays) while he’s been off commentating on that football borefest.

His replacements on the relentlessly upbeat magazine show this week included Nicky Campbell and Matthew Wright - who just weren’t right at all.

Maybe it’s just that the only accent to go with sidekick Christine Bleakly’s strong Nor’n Irish drawl is a thick Brummie twang.

Still, at least we’ve learned a few things this week. Who would’ve thought ladybirds could make such interesting telly, eh?