TV blog: Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family

Benjie Goodhart / 17 January 2019

This week’s TV highlights include Danny Dyer’s quest to uncover his royal roots, plus the National Television Awards.

National Television Awards, Tuesday 22nd January, 7:30pm, ITV

I would like to begin this week by placing on record my fervent viewpoint that it is time to let the people have their say once again. So much has changed since the last time we all voted. I am referring, of course, to the vote for the National Television Awards – that other issue is a whole aluminium container filled with tubular, segmented hermaphroditic invertebrates that I have absolutely no desire to open.

Being as how The National Television Awards are voted for by the people, they are either the most important and relevant awards, or the most lowbrow and insignificant, depending on whether you win one or not. They are certainly the best attended, as the O2 opens up its doors to thousands of overexcited fans who have made the baffling decision that they’ll get a better view of Michelle Keegan from 60 yards away across a stadium then they would do in glorious close-up on their eight-trillion pixel super HD TV at home.

As ever, Dermot O’Leary presents. Dermot is widely reputed to be the nicest man in showbiz, unless you’re my father-in-law, who for some reason considers him to be a monster. Mind you, why would you listen to the opinions of a man who genuinely believes he invented the sandwich? Up there with Dermot in the nice guy stakes are Ant and Dec, who are nominated for Presenters of the Year, an award they have won 18 times in a row. Whether or not they will do so again this time remains to be seen – they haven’t presented an awful lot together this year, what with Ant’s rehab stint, and Pip and Holly must be starting to wonder what they have to do to get a nod.

It’s a bit of an odd collection of awards, really. There’s a gong for Best Drama, but also for Best New Drama. The new one will almost certainly be won by The Bodyguard, which is a shame, as Killing Eve was infinitely superior (as was A Very English Scandal, scandalously overlooked even for a nomination). By comparison, the Drama award looks a little stale, with nominees including Casualty, Our Girl and Call the Midwife. As regards the Best Drama Performance Award, this should be a shoo-in for Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) but of course it won’t be. It’ll probably go to Richard Madden, for The Bodyguard, in spite of the fact that he was one of the weaker aspects of the show. I wouldn’t be disappointed if Jodie Whittaker won it for her excellent turn as the Doctor.

There’s a talent show category, which should be a straight battle between BGT and Strictly. And then, for some unfathomable reason, there’s a best TV judge category, featuring Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams, David Walliams, Louis Tomlinson and, hilariously, Robert Rinder, who sits as an actual legal judge on his show Judge Rinder. Confused? I know I am.

Perhaps most confusingly, all of the shows nominated are British, apart from one. Quite what The Big Bang Theory has done to make it into the best comedy award is anyone’s guess (why, for example, is it in there ahead of the marvellous Derry Girls?) Also, if American shows are able to be included, why on earth didn’t a few more make the cut?

Anyoldhoo, if you’re keen to cast your vote, or just get a peek at all the runners and riders, mosey on over to – I’m giving you this information on the strict understanding that you do not vote for Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family, Wednesday 23rd January, 9pm, BBC One

Time is a weird thing. The older you get, the faster it goes. For example, if you’d asked me when Danny Dyer had appeared on (the best ever) Who Do You Think You Are? I’d have guessed it was about three days ago. Turns out it was all the way back in 2016.

For those of you who have managed to make it this far in life without encountering Mr Dyer, allow me to enlighten you: He’s an actor and professional cockney, who has built a career out of playing football hooligans and presenting documentaries about football hooligans and gangs, occasionally chipping in and saying “Fings are gonna get proper nawty,” or “There’s gonna be a right tear-up, an’ no mistake.” More recently, he stars in EastEnders, and caught the nation’s attention earlier this year when he called David Cameron a rude word on an ITV current affairs programme in the presence of Piers Morgan, Jeremy Corbyn and Pamela Anderson (unless I dreamed it after a particularly large amount of cheese).

Anyway, in 2016, Dyer took part in Who Do You Think You Are? and most of us thought that if he was related to anyone famous, it would most likely be Mad Frankie Fraser. Well, in a twist that knocked all of our prejudices firmly into a cocked crown, Dyer turned out to be a direct descendant of King Edward III. He took the news with characteristic humility, insisting he was going to buy a ruff. “Just bowl about with it, if anyone questions it I’ll explain why I’m wearing a ruff, and then they’ll have to walk away, won’t they, embarrassed.” The programme ended with him thanking the crew and then dismissing them from his property as paupers.

What the nation learned with this hugely entertaining programme wasn’t just not to make assumptions about people, but also that Danny Dyer had a rather natty turn of phrase, a twinkle in his eye, and a healthy streak of self-awareness. As such, it’s little surprise to see him back on our TV screens playing himself once again, in this brand new two-part series that witnesses him investigating his regal heritage even further. “I’m gonna get right stuck in,” he intones, presumably not quite echoing his 22-times Great Grandfather Edward III. “It’s gonna be a right nutty royal caper.” And, as it turns out, he’s not wrong.

It doesn’t take long for things to escalate, as Dyer is given a new family tree, informing him that he’s descended from even more kings. Mind you, that’s sort of how royalty works, right? By definition, Edward III’s father was unlikely to have been a panel-beater from Gosport. Anyway, his heritage has been traced all the way back to a Viking chief called Rollo (and you should see Dyer’s delight when he’s told he’s descended from a Viking warrior).

And so it’s off to Sweden, to investigate Rollo, his 35-times great grandfather. “I need to get Vikinged up out of my brain,” insists Dyer. At a Viking model village, he takes part in a (rather tame) re-enactment battle, before being given (or, more accurately, subjected to) a Viking meal, featuring fermented shark lard, whey, and sheep’s tongue. Watching him attempt to put on a brave face as he tastes these delicacies is 60 seconds of TV heaven.

And so begins his journey, that takes him hunting in Kent, producing his own currency in London, employing servants in Dover Castle, and having a moment of divine realisation in Paris. This is glorious entertainment, and Dyer is just about as affable a host as you could wish to meet. Even better, in the look ahead to programme two, it appears that he gets his ruff after all.

The best… and the rest

Sunday 20th January

This Morning on Sunday, 10:30am, ITV: According to ITV’s press website, this is on at 10:30pm, but bearing in mind the programme is called This Morning, I’ll take a punt on that being a typo. The daytime behemoth moves to Sunday mornings, so now it’s just Saturdays that lack all conceivable meaning. Actually, snarkiness aside, This Morning is a great show, and its move to Sundays will provide a great many people with a lot of pleasure, so why the heck not? Ruth and Eamonn host in their own inimitable style.

Monday 21st January

A Year of British Murder, 9pm, Channel 4: In 2017, 768 people in the UK died as a result of murder or manslaughter. This feature-length documentary tells the stories of just some of those involved and speaks to their grieving families.

Tuesday 22nd January

Koalas: Cute & Cuddly 1/2, 7pm, Channel 5: Call off the search, we have the most nauseating programme title of the year award sewn up, and it’s only January. This two-part documentary series looks at the challenges these tree-dwelling marsupials face from a dwindling food supply, predators, and human interference.

Friday 25th January

MOTD Live: Arsenal v Manchester United, 7:30pm, BBC One: Gary Lineker presents coverage of the plum tie of Round 4 of the FA Cup, featuring a talented Arsenal side with as leaky defence coming up against, um, a talented Man Utd side with a leaky defence.

The Last Leg 1/10, 10pm, Channel 4: Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker return for more irreverent high-jinks and a sideways look at the world, as well as guests, games and more. Fun.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.