Friday, January 23, 2015


Meet the other Queen Elizabeth: Liz Hurley in royal family comedy

Liz Hurley is about to star in a new drama called The Royals which one critic has already described as ‘possibly the worst show in the history of television’

Alexandra Park, Liz Hurley and Joan Collins as three generations of royal ladies
Alexandra Park, Liz Hurley and Joan Collins as three generations of royal ladies
The Queen is not amused. “The teacup. With no saucer,” she booms. “It’s a ******* disgrace.”
This is the royal family as you have never seen them before. And as you never will see them for these outraged words are spoken not by Queen Elizabeth II but by fictional Queen Helena, played with camp aplomb by Elizabeth Hurley in a new American TV series.
American-made drama The Royals follows the outrageous fortunes of a fantasy British royal family and offers more scandalous behaviour than any real-life annus horribilis could create.
It’s Desperate Housewives with tiaras. It’s Footballers’ Wives with a twisted silver spoon added. It’s a TV show that launches in the US in March and has already been commissioned for a second series.
The Americans can’t get enough of this sort of stuff. With the catchline “anarchy in the monarchy” the show promises to be unmissable television – possibly for all the wrong reasons.
Dame Joan Collins plays the Queen’s mother – the fi ctionally titled Grand Duchess of Oxfordshire – and does so in full Alexis Carrington mode.
This means there are plenty of power shoulder pads, pleasingly reminiscent of her starring role in 1980s series Dynasty, as well as power putdowns (and lots of diamonds). The king is called Simon (really), people crash Range Rovers into red telephone boxes and shoot 12-bore shotguns on cliffs.
Sexy Princess Eleanor (played by newcomer Alexandra Park, 21, a dead-ringer for Liz Hurley at the same age) is high on cocaine while Prince Liam (a Prince William lookalike played by 27-year-old William Moseley) is in love with Ophelia, an American blonde studying art history and dance whom he met during a drunken encounter.
A family sit on a sofaPH
The alternative Royal family that's making headlines in America
There are drugs, sword fights, royal nudity and lots of attractive posh people being irresponsible. Delivering decadence and debauchery in equal measure it is flashy, trashy and far from many people’s idea of taste.
One leading Australian critic has described it as “a bunch of bed-hopping halfwits saddled with… very, very lousy dialogue” and called it “possibly the worst show in the history of TV”.
But even this is unlikely to damage ratings because what the show offers is the fascination of an alternative regal reality. Take the moment Queen Helena imagines addressing the nation in her Christmas message with what she is really thinking: “My husband is a stranger to me.”
She also refers to her daughter as “Princess party animal”. Hurley, 49, clearly enjoyed making the series. “I thought , what would it be like if Princess Diana became Queen of England?” she says. “I took my inspiration from her.
But of course what we never got to see with Princess Diana was what went on behind closed doors. Some of it we picked from Cruella de Vil, the Disney character, and the rest I added in.”
AMERICAN critics love it and have called it “a twisted, soapy take on England’s first family”. The show’s creator Mark Schwahn says: “I was working with Elizabeth on wardrobe and she asked, ‘Why not add in bits of fur? I think the Queen should wear bits of cruelty once in a while’.”
The series was filmed at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, where Sir Winston Churchill was born. Its owner the 12th Duke of Marlborough must be wondering if The Royals has the potential to do for his home what Downton Abbey has done for Highclere Castle, where American tourists have been arriving in busloads at the rate of 1,200 a day.

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