The Windsors

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The Windsors
GenreSoap opera/parody
Written byGeorge Jeffrie
Bert Tyler-Moore
Directed byAdam Miller
StarringHarry Enfield
Haydn Gwynne
Hugh Skinner
Composer(s)Ian Masterson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes14 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Robert Wulff-Cochrane
Camilla Campbell
Producer(s)Izzy Mant
Running time23–25 minutes
Production company(s)Noho Film and TV
Release
Original networkChannel 4 (HD)
Picture format16:9 (1080i HDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release6 May 2016 (2016-05-06) –
present

The Windsors is a British sitcom and parody of the British royal family, the House of Windsor, shown on Channel 4, first broadcast in April 2016 and starring Harry Enfield, Haydn Gwynne, Hugh Skinner, Louise Ford, Richard Goulding, Morgana Robinson, Katy Wix, Ellie White, and Celeste Dring.[1]

Written by the co-creators of Star Stories, Bert Tyler-Moore and George Jeffrie, The Windsors puts the British Royal Family into the comedy spotlight in the form of the soap opera of what their lives and loves might just be like. The series has been criticised for such storylines as Kate Middleton catching ebola and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice getting radicalised. "The Windsors was rude, crude – and a real blast of punk comedy", said The Daily Telegraph after the first episode.[2]

Series overview[edit]

The Windsors tells the story of the British Royal family but re-imagined through the lens of a soap opera. Although the stories are completely fictional, they are inspired by real events.[3]

Taking their cue from tabloid tittle-tattle and caricature, Camilla becomes a cartoon villain who is hell-bent on becoming Queen, in order to redeem herself in the eyes of a public whom she believes – with some justification (in the fictional world of the series) – to be hostile towards her for having usurped Diana, Princess of Wales. She believes that, after decades of a monarch perceived as unfashionable,[4] they had been looking forward to a glamorous, sexually provocative Queen with "the full, magnificent mammaries of a macromastic Milking Shorthorn". She believed the public rationalised to itself the shallowness of this desire by affecting to admire Diana for her charity work, but that this was belied by their relative antipathy toward Princess Anne, who "achieves more before breakfast on a wet Sunday morning than Little Miss Doe-eyes did in a lifetime of heroic hugging." She therefore hopes to improve her standing with the public by changing her appearance, rather than by making herself a more sympathetic person. She fixates on various ways in which she might achieve this, but never actually carries out any of the schemes she imagines. In scenes visually resonant of the "nose cards" scene[5] in the Steve Martin movie Roxanne, Camilla is shown looking at herself in profile in a Kensington Palace pier glass while holding analogous "breast cards" to her chest. No mention of any actual surgery is ever made.

Pippa Middleton, played by Robinson, is catty and highly envious of her older sister. "I honed my Pippa skills through the medium of boarding school; I channelled all the girls I went to school with and basically put them all into one character," says Robinson. "There's only one interview I've seen and she's very nervous – so much lovelier and very sweet compared to my version of her." Prince Andrew is a failure; his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, are, according to Tyler Moore, "slightly dim girls", and the Queen and Prince Philip are physically absent but frequently mentioned by the other characters.[6]

Kate Middleton is portrayed as a gypsy traveller who doesn't fit in, but wants to, whilst her sister Pippa is portrayed as a jealous attention seeker who has sex with Harry and tries to seduce William as well. Prince William is a well meaning character and probably the most normal. Prince Harry, who enjoys partying and is very naive and illiterate, loves Pippa Middleton's bum. Edward is an alcoholic. Prince Charles, a lover of his Duchy Originals biscuits. Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York (played by Ellie White and Celeste Dring respectively) are two useless, rich Sloanes, searching for purpose in life – until they become radicalised.[7]

Channel 4 described the show, in a statement: “The series is a wry take on what the soap opera of their lives (and loves) might just be like. Delving behind the headlines and gossip columns, The Windsors lets our imaginations run riot in this ludicrous parody. "Imagine, who really controls the sceptre in Charles and Camilla's marriage? What do the Royals really think of Kate? Does Wills really want to be king? Will Harry ever take Pippa up the aisle or will they end on a bum note? And what do Beatrice and Eugenie actually do for a living?" C4's head of comedy Phil Clarke added: “In The Windsors, our much-loved Royal family is re-imagined through the lens of a soap opera, and although the stories are completely fictional, some are inspired by real events. As a result, writers Bert and George have outdone even the funniest, most ludicrous issue of Hello! magazine ever."[8]

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2016)[edit]

No. Title Original air date Viewers
(millions)
1"Episode One"6 May 2016 (2016-05-06)2.37
Charles tries to keep his family in order, but Wills wants to mingle with the people and work as an air ambulance pilot. Beatrice and Eugenie plan to start a business demonstrating make-up on social media. Kate volunteers to help Harry with his fancy dress charity ball, but makes a disastrous faux pas when she is persuaded by Camilla to wear a Long John Silver oufit.
2"Episode Two"6 May 2016 (2016-05-06)1.56
Kate and Wills visit a centre for asylum seekers but Kate contracts ebola and is hospitalized. Fergie thinks her two daughters have been radicalised and Harry starts developing feelings for Pippa, after she flirts with him at home alone using her bum.
3"Episode Three"13 May 2016 (2016-05-13)1.52
Charles finds out that he fathered a son by one of The Three Degrees during the 1970s. William and Kate move to a semi-detached house in Rickmansworth.
4"Episode Four"20 May 2016 (2016-05-20)1.82
Kate meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, they get on almost too well and share a kiss. Wills wants to modernise the Royal Variety Show, while Harry goes on a bender when he learns that Pippa is getting married. Beatrice tries to solve her money problems by getting a job, and Camilla's plans suffer a setback.
5"Episode Five"27 May 2016 (2016-05-27)1.42
William calls for a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy.
6"Episode Six"3 June 2016 (2016-06-03)1.56
The Windsors deal with the outcome of the referendum; However, the monarchy being abolished turns out to be a dream in William's head – They in fact lost the Wills and Kate plan to renew their vows and Camilla has a plan to put Charles back to first-in-line to the throne after giving the title up to William.

Christmas Special (2016)[edit]

No. Title Original air date Viewers
(millions)
7"Christmas Special"23 December 2016 (2016-12-23)1.28
The Windsors have Christmas at Sandringham, where Kate makes a mess of Christmas lunch and is almost lobotomised by Princess Anne and Camilla, and Harry becomes infatuated with Ellie Goulding which results in Pippa leaving him at the end of the episode for a recently recovered homeless Amnesiac billionaire hedge-fund manager she met while somewhat unwillingly volunteering at a soup kitchen. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie release a song online called 'Daddy come home for Christmas' which goes to number 1 in Azerbaijan. Elsewhere, Charles declares war on the European Union during a Christmas speech and Fergie realises that Andrew has been using her for tax avoidance.

Series 2 (2017)[edit]

No. Title Original air date Viewers
(millions)
1"Episode One"5 July 2017 (2017-07-05)1.28
Camilla thinks she has found a new friend in Prime Minister Theresa May and is determined to persuade Prince Charles to help secure a trade deal with the Chinese - but is she just a pawn in the PM's game.
2"Episode Two"12 July 2017 (2017-07-12)0.96
Harry opens a nightclub and asks Kate to DJ. Meanwhile, Wills learns the art of banter and Camilla decides to donate a kidney to a disabled 12 year-old to make the public finally like her. Charles and Camilla's home becomes rampaged by wild animals after Charles attempts to ban pesticides in the palace gardens.
3"Episode Three"19 July 2017 (2017-07-19)0.97
Kate is reluctant to join a pheasant shoot at Sandringham, Harry seeks revenge on Johnny and Wills stumbles across his father's identical twin, Chuck.
4"Episode Four"26 July 2017 (2017-07-26)0.88
Kate and Wills visit Charles' traditionalist new town, Poundbury in Dorset. Pippa ponders whether she should leave Johnny after discovering that he has lost his fortune.
5"Episode Five"2 August 2017 (2017-08-02)N/A
The Royals gather at Balmoral. Camilla plots her revenge on Theresa May, Pippa plans to wreck Harry's relationship with Meghan, Charles is a hit with the Scots and Wills is shot by a Highland lassie, "Flame", who turns out to be Nicola Sturgeon off duty.
6"Episode Six"16 August 2017 (2017-08-16)N/A
Donald Trump (Corey Johnson) visits to offer an "endorsement" to Charles, but wants Camilla's favours in return. Wills awakens Theresa May from her coma by kissing her, and the new copy of the Magna Carta is found to be a fake, putting an end to the idea of absolute monarchy. Pippa's hen party is attended by Beatrice, Eugenie and their mother. Harry tries to stop the wedding, but turns up too late.

Royal Wedding Special (2018)[edit]

No. Title Original air date Viewers
(millions)
1"Royal Wedding Special"15 May 2018 (2018-05-15)N/A
In a "Royal Wedding Special", during the week leading up to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Pippa plots to poison Meghan while fattening Kate up so that she will not be able to wear her wedding outfit. Princess Beatrice embarks on an affair with Jeremy Corbyn (played by Tom Basden). Fergie unexpectedly receives an invitation to the wedding, but it clashes with a lucrative opportunity to commentate on the wedding for a TV station.[9]

Reception[edit]

The Guardian was favourable when it said "High-brow humour this is not. But, despite a number of cast and crew comparing the show to Spitting Image, The Windsors doesn't feel like satire: more a comic drama that makes the odd comment about monarchy."[10]

"The Windsors was low-budget, crude and rude. But it was all done with such cacophonous relish that resistance was useless. There's not much of this kind of punk comedy around on television at the moment, where deep, mordant, The Office-style irony has long been the dominant mode. But who doesn't like a little mischief? You can be a fan of Beethoven and the Buzzcocks too."[2]

"A pitiful 'parody' of life down Buck House way!. If you were writing a sitcom about the Royal Family, would you have Harry coming over as a bit thick, Fergie being rather attention-seeking and Camilla as a cartoon villain? Of course you wouldn't, as that would be way too obvious; though maybe you could go down that road and put a spin on it somehow? Not Jeffrie and Tyler-Moore as they do the obvious and a whole lot less, such as making Edward out to be a lost soul with an empty diary, having William as a square-jawed helicopter hero and Pippa enjoying people constantly gazing at her 'fantastic arse'. And most incredibly of all, the Duke of Edinburgh is, wait for it, a little bit racist. It's certainly gratifying to see some upcoming Fringe comedy acts landing parts, such as Ellie White and Celeste Dring as the all-too predictably shallow Beatrice and Eugenie while Katy Wix has a blast as their tragically pitiable mum. But, sadly, all the talent on show are let down by a woefully predictable and utterly laugh-free script. Off with their heads!"[7]

Its content was criticised: "The new series, which stars Harry Enfield as Prince Charles, will air on Channel 4 in May and is already causing outrage among royalists over its explicit and 'offensive' comedy. Details about the show were revealed in The Sun today and storylines will include Kate Middleton catching Ebola, Prince Harry sleeping with Pippa Middleton, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, falling pregnant, aged 68. Other 'jokes' in the series will include Kate Middleton being tricked into wearing a one-legged pirate costume to an amputee war veterans event and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice planning to escape to Syria and wearing burkas. The controversial plots have been defended by the writers, who say the show's tone is "plainly silly" and "ridiculous". The Queen and Prince Philip will not appear in the series, except in explicit emails and letters to the rest of the family. Alongside Harry Enfield, the rest of the cast includes Haydn Gwynne (Drop the Dead Donkey) as Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Hugh Skinner (W1A) is heralded as Prince William 'Wills', Duke of Cambridge, with Louise Ford (Crashing) his queen consort-in-waiting, 'Kate', the Duchess of Cambridge. Morgana Robinson (The Morgana Show) appears as Kate's sister, Pippa, and Richard Goulding (Fresh Meat) appears as Prince Harry.[11]

The Guardian has described The Windsors as 'riotous hilarity'.[12] The Telegraph called it a "right royal romp".[13] The Windsors has a rating of 6.5/10 on IMDB.[14]

Sam Wollaston, writing for the Guardian, said of the Royal Wedding Special, "I worried an hour might be a stretch, but I needn’t have", and suggested that the characters of Beatrice and Eugenie should have their own spin-off series.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wollaston, Sam (7 May 2016). "The Windsors review – Harry Enfield demolishes the monarchy". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Benji (6 May 2016). "The Windsors was rude, crude – and a real blast of punk comedy". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Channel 4 crowns cast of satirical soap The Windsors". channel4.com. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle (16 September 2016). ""Quirky" Queen Elizabeth is Finally Having a Fashion Moment". Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  5. ^ ""Roxanne" nose cards scene". Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  6. ^ "New satirical TV comedy The Windsors pokes fun at the royal family". gloucestershirelive.co.uk. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Donaldson, Brian (27 April 2016). "TV review: The Windsors, Channel 4". The List. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  8. ^ Dowell, Ben (16 February 2016). "Channel 4 comedy The Windsors to see the funny side of Kate, Wills and the British monarchy". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b Sam Wollaston (15 May 2018). "The Windsors Royal Wedding Special review – gloriously brazen satire". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Duggins, Alexi (6 May 2016). "The Windsors: behind the scenes of a right royal send-up". Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. ^ Fletcher, Alex (15 April 2016). "The Windsors anger: Kate Middleton gets Ebola in controversial new Channel 4 royals comedy". bt.com. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  12. ^ Sam Wollaston (6 July 2017). "The Windsors review – you'd watch this riotous parody if you were them". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. ^ Michael Hogan (5 July 2017). "The Windsors, series 2 episode 1 review: all the subtlety and nuance of a Donald Trump tweet". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  14. ^ "The Windsors (TV Series 2016-)". IMDb. Retrieved 12 February 2018.

External links[edit]