CHRISTOPHER STEVENS Discusses The Weekend’s TV: 40 Years Later Blunt Could Still Be Windsors’ Downfall
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS Discusses the Weekend’s TV: Forty Years Later, Traitor Blunt Could Still Be the Downfall of the Windsors
Queen Elizabeth and the spy in the palace
Line of duty
Royal documentaries now fill so much airtime that they must be one of the UK’s largest industries.
There are certainly more people working as talking heads, serving gossip about the palace while sitting in armchairs flanked by bookcases, than there are in shipbuilding or coal mining today.
Following last week’s excellent profile of the Queen’s lifelong girlfriend and lady-in-waiting Lady Pamela Hicks, this week ITV is showing The Day Will And Kate Got Married and The Queen Unseen.
Queen Elizabeth and The Spy in the Palace were far from the usual speculation and chatter. The spy in question was Sir Anthony Blunt (pictured), who was named as a Soviet double agent 40 years ago
Channel 4, meanwhile, filled its Saturday schedule with The Windsors: Inside The Royal Dynasty and The Queen’s Lost Family.
Queen Elizabeth and the spy in the palace (C4) looked little different from all of these. It produced the same mix of archive footage, aerial shots of Windsor, mock-up documents and professors in vests.
However, the story it told was far from the usual speculation and banter. This was more like a royal gardener burying hand grenades rather than tulip bulbs in the flower beds at Sandringham. It wasn’t until the end of the hour that some of the accusations began to blow off with a bang.
The spy in question was Sir Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, who was named as a Soviet double agent 40 years ago.
Even if your knowledge of royal scandals doesn’t go deeper than The Crown, you’ll know the name – Blunt was played by Samuel West in an episode of the Netflix drama. The traitor kept his post and title when the FBI exposed him in 1964, but Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) gave him a look of cold disgust, which made Blunt shudder a little.
Photo album of the weekend:
Each snap told a story in the rockumentary Freddie Mercury: A Life In Ten Pictures (BBC2), a festival of anecdotes and memories with an emphasis on the personality offstage. Very nice.
As this documentary unwrapped the evidence, it gradually became apparent that the Royal Servant was a much worse villain than ever admitted when Mrs. Thatcher denounced him at the House of Commons in 1979.
As an MI5 officer involved in planning the D-Day landings in 1944, he endangered the operation by revealing its secrets to the Kremlin.
He also revealed to Moscow that British code breakers in Bletchley Park could read German Enigma signals.
It was sheer luck that this venal man cost the Allied victory not once but twice in World War II – yet he cynically pleaded that he had acted according to his conscience.
With an explosive final bloom, the show declared that even now Blunt’s betrayal could be devastating. According to Russian journalist Gennady Sokolov, President Putin has a microfilm cache consisting of hundreds of war papers linking senior royals, including the Dukes of Windsor and Kent, to the Nazis.
“If the documents were published, it would lead to a huge scandal,” Sokolov claimed, “resulting in the fall of the dynasty.”
Boom entered the tulips.
All these machinations were child’s play compared to the complexity in Line of duty (BBC1). DI Arnott (Martin Compston) tried to get rid of his painkiller addiction by becoming an alcoholic instead.
All these machinations were child’s play compared to the complexity in Line Of Duty (BBC1)
He complained that back pain was hindering his performance in bed, but the triple whiskey he swallowed may not have helped.
I know we’re not supposed to understand half of what’s going on, but I really can’t understand why copper intern Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) hasn’t been arrested on charges of murdering his colleague PC Lisa (Tara Divina). DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) was already so suspicious of him that she chased him before his patrol car made an unexpected detour to a reservoir.
Now AC-12 have evidence of his gangland connections, but they leave him in uniform. It does not make any sense.