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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: Stripped and pelted with sweets – a royal bride’s nuptial nightmare

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS critiques final night time’s TV: Stripped and pelted with sweets – a royal bride’s nuptial nightmare

Marie Antoinette


Antiques Roadshow


Tv has by no means been extra obsessive about poisonous royal fairy tales. In all places you look, there is a woman marrying a prince — and regretting it.

Elle Fanning, as the longer term Empress Catherine in C4’s barking mad Russian extravaganza The Nice, barely survived her honeymoon with Tsar Peter.

Netflix is dissecting the wedding of Diana to Charles in sadistic element over three seasons of The Crown. And we can’t point out a sure six-part documentary launched by the U.S. streaming video large earlier this month.

Although its topic is probably essentially the most vilified queen in historical past, Marie Antoinette (BBC2) is a subtler, extra nuanced present than any of those.

Emilia Schule takes the title role in Marie Antoinette

Emilia Schule takes the title position in Marie Antoinette

Author Deborah Davis, who was Oscar-nominated for her Queen Anne drama The Favorite with Olivia Colman, would not disguise the lunatic excesses of the French court docket at Versailles within the late 1700s.

However she strips away the historic libels and the centuries of republican propaganda to disclose a pitifully susceptible woman below these towering pompadours.

Although she is in actual fact 30, Emilia Schule makes a plausible 14-year-old, half agog with anticipation and half in terror as a coach carries her throughout Europe to be married to a youth she has by no means met earlier than —the French Dauphin or inheritor to the throne. Schule captures her naivety as she stumbles via curtseys and begs in whispers for any individual, anyone, to inform her what is anticipated of her on her marriage ceremony night time.

Cacophony of the night time: 

The satire was insipid and the songs had been terrible, in Prince Andrew: The Musical (C4). As for the choreography, The Two Ronnies served up extra swish dancing. Worst of all was Kieran Hodgson’s singing. He could not carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. 

‘Your job is to ship the inheritor,’ her mom, the Empress of Austria, tells her. That is so far as the lecture on birds and bees ever will get, regardless of suggestive hints from the French king’s concubine, Madame du Barry (Gaia Weiss).

The nuptial ceremony itself is so extraordinary that, if nothing notable had ever occurred to Marie Antoinette once more, her story would nonetheless should be advised.

Surrounded by courtiers, she and her teenage husband (Louis Cun-ningham) are stripped bare. Then the king, minor royals and servants of the bedchamber pelt them with sweets and run away laughing.

By the requirements of any period, the shortage of privateness is traumatic. In Versailles, there’s a watch at each keyhole and a line-up of gawping aristocrats in each hall.

Prince Louis is depicted with autistic traits: inflexible in his routines, he’s simply overwhelmed by consideration and loathes being touched.

His grandfather, Louis XV, performed by James Purefoy, is a benevolent previous soul, amused by the piggish desk manners of his daughters and smugly assured the French monarchy will endure for ever. They’re secondary characters. The highlight guarantees to remain on the younger princess and her development from sacrificial lamb to ultra-privileged trend-setter and nationwide determine of hatred — and, in the end, to the guillotine.

It wasn’t Versailles, however the riotous home celebration that featured on the Antiques Roadshow (BBC1) regarded like the peak of decadence . . . in miniature. Collectibles professional Mark Hill on the V&A was admiring an artwork deco doll’s home, designed in 1935 by artist Moray Thomas.

With a solar terrace and pool plus diving board, its pipe-cleaner collectible figurines had been boozing, flirting and usually behaving just like the Vibrant Younger Issues of an Evelyn Waugh novel.

Fiona Bruce spent a cheerful hour discovering classic kids’s toys, together with a group of clockwork animals that danced and performed musical devices. Most exceptional of all was a 4,000-year-old stone cow that after belonged to a Bronze Age baby and trundled alongside on wheels. That did not come from Hamleys.


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