TV blog: The Royal Wedding

Benjie Goodhart / 10 May 2018

Royal Wedding-themed programmes galore lead up to the broadcast of the much-anticipated event itself.

Royal Wedding-themed programmes, throughout the week, especially on BBC One and Channel 4

I’m sitting on my train on the way back to Brighton, after another hard day of… well, of watching quite a lot of telly. It’s an odd life. I relax in the evening by going over accountancy spreadsheets and arranging meetings to discuss quarterly projections with the kids.

Anyway, at my table, a mum and a daughter are discussing their plans for a royal wedding party next weekend (I’ve been smiling at them warmly but an invite is yet to be forthcoming – actually, I think they may be a little unnerved by me.) On the table is a copy of the Evening Standard, and there’s a picture of Meghan on the front page. All over the country, people are looking out their bunting, giving their trestle tables a bit of a polish, and buying ingredients for a Victoria Sponge. I think it’s safe to say that Royal Wedding fever has gripped the nation.

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And so it is with TV schedules. While ITV went big last week, this week it’s the turn of BBC One and Channel 4 to get people like my mum whipped up into such a frenzy that they spontaneously combust.

It’s the kind of thing one has come to expect from the BBC, but you’d expect Channel 4, with its more alternative streak, to mark the occasion by showing a season of Bolivian cinema, or to do something provocative. But instead of all that, we have… well… cakes. Extreme Cake Makers: Royal Wedding Special (Sun 13th, 4:25pm, C4) sees some of the nation’s finest cake artists create royal-themed gateaux fit for the most decorous regal table.

Food is on the agenda on BBC One as well, with Royal Recipes Wedding Special on every day from Monday-Friday at 3:45pm. Every episode has a different theme, but the gist of it is that Michael Buerk and a couple of chefs are going to cook some royal scran, with nary a potato waffle or a baked bean in sight.

Channel 4 is back to its slightly more irreverent self on Tuesday night (9pm) with The Windsors Royal Wedding Special. If you’ve never seen the comedy based on the royal family, it’s actually good knockabout fun rather than anything too spiteful. As ever, it is the depictions of Fergie, Beatrice and Eugenie that steal the show.

Straight after that is Meet the Markles (10pm, also C4) in which ‘online sensation’ Amelia Dimoldenberg travels to the US in an attempt to befriend the Markle family and get an invite to the wedding. Apparently Amelia is known for something called Chicken Shop Date, a show on YouTube with which I, and doubtless you, are unfamiliar because we’re not 14-year-olds.

On Friday, the BBC starts whetting matrimonial appetites with The Royal Wedding: They’re Getting Married in the Morning (7-8pm). Obviously we can all agree that whoever came up with the programme title should immediately be sent to rot in the Tower, but aside from that this will see Kirsty Young, Huw Edwards and Dermot O’Leary reveal all the latest news (“Yes, they’re still getting married tomorrow”) and meet some of the key players of the day (if, by key, you mean entirely insignificant). But it’ll be a cheery amuse bouche, nevertheless.

Back to Channel 4 for The Meghan Markle Effect (Friday, 11pm, C4) a ‘bold and boisterous celebration of the royal wedding’ wherein a bunch of as-yet-unnamed high-profile opinion-formers discuss the significance of the wedding, and whether it marks a leap forward into the 21st Century for the royal family.

Then, of course, we’re on to the big day itself – 19th May. Don’t pretend you don’t know the date by heart, and haven’t had it ringed on your calendar in gold glitter pen for ages. Anyway, gather on the sofa with Bucks Fizz (the drink, not the band, unless you’re very well-connected) and BBC Breakfast from 6am, with Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt live from Windsor, along with Carol Kirkwood with the all-important weather.

Then there’s a gap in wedding programming of roughly 30 seconds as they show an advert for the FA Cup later on. Make the most of this 30 seconds, you won’t get another break for five hours. Then it’s on to the real thing: Live coverage of the day’s events from Windsor, presented by Kirsty, Huw, Dermot, Alex Jones, Tina Daheley, Ore Oduba and Anita Rani. They’ll all be dotted around Windsor, presumably frantically filling time by chatting about people’s dresses, and fervently hoping that someone famous comes over for a chat. The wedding itself starts at midday, and coverage continues until 2pm. If Pip Schofield, Julie Etchingham, and adverts for washing powder are more your thing, ITV are on air from 9am-3pm, with much of the same. Then there’s a live highlights programme later on BBC Two at 6:30pm, which will give families everywhere the chance to have a good old barney about whether to watch the royal wedding (again) or the FA Cup Final, before everyone falls into a patriotic, prosecco-fuelled slumber by about 8:15pm. Marvellous.

Innocent 1/4, Monday 14th – Thursday 17th May, 9pm, ITV

It’s tough, being a parent. The broken sleep, the packed lunches, the laundry, the ceaseless struggle against the ubiquitous computer games, the having to coo over their frankly risible drawings. And that’s without the whole ‘they think you killed their mother and are worried you might murder them’ problem. Admittedly, that’s a slightly more niche category. But it happens. At least, it happens in TV dramas. Just ask David Collins. Except you can’t. He’s a character in a TV drama. Come on, keep up!

So David Collins (Lee Ingleby) is released from prison following the collapse of his trial, having served seven years of a life sentence for killing his wife, Tara. On the court steps, he makes an emotional speech to the gathered media, vowing to bring to book those who lied at his original trial, see his wife’s real killer jailed, and regain custody of his kids, Jack and Rosie. That’s a busy schedule. I think I’d be happy just to spend a few months ordering take away pizza and catching up with all the best telly. Oh, hold on, that’s what I do anyway.

Tara’s sister, Alice (Hermione Norris), has been looking after the kids for the last seven years. Presumably, as the adult in the equation, she’ll be keen to smooth things over with David and give him access to his kids. “You killed my sister, you [insert pejorative word for child born out of wedlock here].” Hmm. And you think your family Christmases are dysfunctional?

Poor David. He goes to visit his best mate, and things don’t exactly end in an embrace and a look through old photo albums. He’s not exactly fighting off pals with a stick. His sister-in-law wants him dead, his kids are terrified of him, his best mate… well, isn’t… and everywhere he goes, people stare and mutter.

Only his brother Phil (Daniel Ryan) has stood by his side. Yes, Phil. David Collins has a brother called Phil. Anyway, against all odds, Phil’s constant campaigning for his brother’s release has finally ensured that David doesn’t need to spend one more night behind bars, and the two are no longer forced to lead separate lives. (Anyone who’s not a Phil Collins fan will just see the previous sentence as a badly written jumble of nonsense. Which separates it from the rest of the blog not a jot…)

Meanwhile, the police have been made to look bad, and are keen to find out what really happened to Tara. So DI Cathy Hudson (Angel Coulby) is put on the case. In an unfortunate coincidence, she’s in a relationship with the copper who originally handled the investigation, DI William Beech (Nigel Lindsey). But I’m sure that’ll all resolve itself smoothly enough. I mean, they’re looking for a house together. They’re happy. What could possibly go wrong?

Innocent is screening over four consecutive nights on ITV, which is a sign of confidence that the broadcaster wants to make an event of the series. And, on the basis of the first episode, they’re right to do so. This is properly grown-up, nuanced drama. It’s filled with sadness and rage and angst, and the sense of ruined lives and collateral damage hangs heavy throughout. It is also, first and foremost, a thriller, and by the end of episode one, there are some intriguing questions that need answering. Also, I have a theory about who the killer is, and if I’m right, I’m going to brag about it for years, so fingers crossed and all that…

The best… and the rest

Saturday 12th May

The Private Life of the Royal Academy, 9pm, BBC Two: One-off documentary, shot over a whopping five years, telling the story of the Royal Academy of Arts on its 250th anniversary, and marking a major overhaul that has seen the RA double in size.

Sunday 13th May

The A-Z of Chelsea, 6pm, BBC One: If you think A is for Azpilicueta and Z is for Zola, sorry, you’ve got the wrong Chelsea. This hour-long programme is a cheerful romp through Chelsea Flower Show, the greatest horticultural extravaganza on earth. Jennifer Saunders and Gardeners' World presenter Adam Frost are our hosts.

The British Academy Television Awards, 8pm, BBC One: Sue Perkins hosts the biggest night in British television. Who will win is anyone’s guess, but some things are guaranteed: Someone will make a rabble-rousing, triumphant speech, someone else will make a terrible one. Someone will wear something daft, twitter will get very angry about who wins what, and John Motson will be given the BAFTA Special Award after 50 marvellous years of broadcasting.

Midsomer Murders, 8pm, ITV: A girl slips away from a Jane Austen weekend dressed in period attire. Frankly, who can blame her? Well, the answer is someone, clearly, as she winds up dead. DCI Barnaby and DS Winter must, as ever, unmask the killer.

Burma with Simon Reeve 1/2, BBC Two, 9pm: Simon Reeve travels to the beautiful and troubled Asian nation. Recovering from years of military rule, and waging a proxy war on it Muslim Rohingya people, Burma is a country at a crossroads, and Reeve, as always, skilfully traverses the issues.

Monday 14th May

Heart Transplant: A Chance to Live, 9pm, BBC Two: 50 years after the first British heart transplant, this documentary looks at a year in the lives of seven people who need a new heart to save their lives. This programme should come with a donor card application form.

Catching a Killer: A Knock at the Door, 9pm, Channel 4: A powerful film about a hugely complex murder investigation following the death of Hang Lin Yeung, 64. Be warned: It’s pretty much guaranteed to make your blood boil.

Tuesday 15th May

Nigeria’s Stolen Daughters, 9pm, BBC Two: Four years ago, 276 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. To date, 100 have been freed. This is their story, and the story of other women taken by Boko Haram, who are struggling to adapt to life after their release.

Thursday 17th May

Humans 1/8, 9pm, Channel 4: Third series of the high-concept, immaculately-realised drama series set in a world where humans and synths (robots, effectively) co-exist in an uneasy truce. A year after the dawn of synth consciousness, and the remaining synths are living as an oppressed and incarcerated minority. You may never look at your toaster the same way.

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