The Queen: Inside The Crown (ITV)
What’s The Matter With Tony Slattery? (BBC2)
What were we thinking? On Monday, March 9, the day Italy went into lockdown, the Queen with most of the senior royals and politicians squeezed into Westminster Abbey with 2,000 people to mark Commonwealth Day.
Harry and Meghan were there, on their last public engagement as part of the royal circle — waving at the crowds as if the whole shebang was thrown in their honour.
Boris Johnson, Princes Charles and William, plus a scrum of the great and good, were all rubbing elbows . . . literally, since everyone already knew enough about Covid-19 not to shake hands.
On Monday, March 9, the day Italy went into lockdown, the Queen with most of the senior royals and politicians squeezed into Westminster Abbey with 2,000 people to mark Commonwealth Day
What nobody knew was that Chas and Boris would be stricken with the virus within days, and might already have been infected — unless, of course, one or both of them picked up the bug at the Abbey.
Of all the thoughtless things permitted before the country grasped how grave the corona threat really was, going ahead with this annual state occasion was surely the most dangerous.
Not only was it a superspreader event, ideal conditions for the transmission of a virus, but the monarch and both her closest heirs were directly exposed. As one historian put it fervently on The Queen: Inside The Crown (ITV), we can count it a miracle that we didn’t lose all three, with six-year-old Prince George propelled onto the throne. Who then would be Prince Regent, head of the Royal Family, until George was 18 — Uncle Harry, or Great-Uncle Andrew?
The Queen: Inside The Crown was not afraid to dive into the archives and emerge with some shockers from the past. Pictured: Royal biographer Penny Junior
Ye gods! This respectful documentary was too deferential to imagine such a catastrophe. But it was not afraid to dive into the archives and emerge with some shockers from the past.
The Mail’s Robert Hardman uncovered the speech written for the Queen in 1983, in the event that Britain was driven to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. It was chilling, couched in the calm and comforting language of a Christmas Day broadcast, but signalling the end of the world: Britannia’s last salute.
Our man also found a document from the late Seventies, regarding the state visit of murderous Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his equally appalling wife, Elena. Across the top of the memorandum, in a panicky scrawl, Foreign Secretary David Owen had written: ‘Who did agree to this visit? Did I? If I did, I regret it.’
He didn’t regret it half as much as the Queen, who was walking the corgis in Buckingham Palace’s gardens when she spotted the Ceausescus . . . and hid behind a bush so she wouldn’t have to talk to them. If there’s a better anecdote than that in any royal documentary this year, I’ll be very surprised.
Shuffling and slurred, 60-year-old Slattery was unrecognisable from the debonaire performer of 30 years ago. Pictured (left) with Stephen Fry (right)
Watching his evasions as he struggled to disguise the extent of his drinking was agony. He and Mark were brave to make the film
The stories in the Horizon portrait What’s The Matter With Tony Slattery? (BBC2) were much more subdued and sorrowful — a great pity for anyone who remembers the comedian’s mercurial improvisations on Channel 4’s panel game, Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Shuffling and slurred, 60-year-old Slattery was unrecognisable from the debonaire performer of 30 years ago. Scarred by sexual abuse in childhood, burned out by mood swings and cocaine addiction, he was alive thanks only to the saintly dedication of his partner, Mark Hutchinson.
Whatever the matter had once been, it was obvious from the outset that Slattery was racked with alcoholism. Watching his evasions as he struggled to disguise the extent of his drinking was agony. He and Mark were brave to make the film. May it help others who see it.
Smart timing of the week: How clever of the Beeb to air Stacey Dooley’s Lockdown Heroes (BBC1) right before 8pm, when the nation stands on the doorstep to applaud carers. This moving show about our unsung troupers caught the moment.