The Windsors: Laugh? I thought I’d never start

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The Windsors: Laugh? I thought I’d never start

May 07, 2016 - 09:29
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Average: 3 (22 votes)
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The royal family are all moronic airheads. There’s a new idea. He-he. Feckless Fergie and her dimwit daughters are work-shy freeloaders. Ha-ha. Never seen that before. Much.

The Windsors

The royal family are all moronic airheads. There’s a new idea. He-he. Feckless Fergie and her dimwit daughters are work-shy freeloaders. Ha-ha. Never seen that before. Much.

Stir in the random concept that squabbling sisters Kate and Pippa are gypsies and there you have it. The entire rough and ready recipe for alleged comedy success on Channel 4’s mock-the-monarchy joke soap The Windsors. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.

It’s the sort of ruthlessly rude spoof that ought to thrill republicans and offend royalists. But it’s so ludicrously cartoonish I suspect it’ll do neither.

Wrestling with a relentlessly unsophisticated script, the spirited cast try so desperately hard to be shockingly hilarious it’s exhausting to watch. In fairness, it has its moments… but they’re few and far between.

All eyes on pretend Pippa’s perfect posterior as she beds illiterate imbecile Harry. And while Kate reminisces about fighting Rottweilers in Morrisons’ car parks, scheming Camilla, 92, decides to get pregnant so that a Parker Bowles can beat Prince George to the throne.

Pouring scorn on his elderly wife’s optimistic baby plan, Prince Charles sighs: “But you haven’t had a period since Wham! split up.” That’s the level of humour we’re dealing with here. Highbrow it ain’t.

Star of the show Harry Enfield’s chinless Charlie impression is half-way amusing. But he’s lumbered with clunking dialogue that has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Choking at the dinner table, Camilla splutters: “Something went down the wrong hole.” Charles: “As per last night, for which I apologise.” Really? Be still my aching sides.

Meanwhile, in order to understand his future subjects, epically thick William is working as a toilet cleaner at a kebab café. But he’s anxious to return to his first love… flying helicopters.

After dramatically rescuing a fat guy, the pilot prince crash lands at Harry’s Buckingham Palace fancy dress ball just in time to see his wife insult the military amputee guests of honour with her Long John Silver peg-leg outfit. Another humdinger.

Even though they’re ripped off from pariah princesses Penelope and Maribel on the E! channel’s ridiculous The Royals, okay yah party girls Eugenie and Beatrice are probably the best characters. If a little one dimensional.

And, just as she is in real-life, social outcast Fergie’s an entertainingly embarrassing figure of fun. “I just got recognised. They thought I was Mick Hucknall. But close enough.” Not exactly hysterical. But as good as the one liners get.

Oddly, in the first hour-long double episode the Queen didn’t feature at all. And an unseen Prince Philip’s only role was to dispatch profane letters to his younger relatives calling them every naughty name under the sun.

I suppose if you’ve just got back from the pub, this juvenile tosh might just about make you smile. But there’s no royal ribbing here that wasn’t done way better by the original Spitting Image three decades ago. Progress? What progress?

As satire goes, this deliberate attempt to test the boundaries of taste is at the pile-driver end of the market. It’s written by the guys who created Star Stories, the celebrity send-up that wasn’t as funny as it could have been. Funnily enough, nor is The Windsors.

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Anna May's picture

Two episodes in and I have to say I’m looking forward to the next. If I’m honest, I found the first instalment funnier than the second, probably due to the introduction of each character in quick, dare I say it, succession. Once you get used to a few of the lesser lookalikes, you soon relax into who’s who and can start to enjoy the silliness. Not entirely sure how I feel about Edward and Fergie, but time will tell. My teenage daughter, however, thinks all the characters are laugh-out-loud funny…to the point I had to pause the TV and stare at her until she stopped…several times…more than twenty.

Harry Enfield is perfect as Prince Charles, but I must admit to being a little worried I would watch through rose-tinted glasses and champion this series based purely on my love of his past work. In some respects maybe I have, but I can’t help giggling at this ridiculous pantomime and its tongue-in-cheek one-liners and, for me, if something makes me laugh I’m happy to give it a chance. As Ken Dodd says, you should never pass up an opportunity to work that chuckle muscle because, “If you don’t use it, it dries up and falls off.” No-one wants that.

Another plus for me is I’ve never seen ‘The Royals’ so cannot compare the two. Now, if Harry Enfield had been in that, I’d have been there like a shot. Nothing gives a show more pulling power than a faithful fan base and, whether it’s felt the content is worthy or not, shows like ‘The Windsors’ will still be watched through loyalty. Fans of Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse and my all-time girl-crush, Kathy Burke, may initially be yearning for the Cockney ghost of Queen Vicky to come floating in, begging fags off Camilla and telling everyone to, “Piss awf aht av it, ya posh lezzas!”

That said, I’m already falling in love with the other characters too and they’re doing their very own fake Prince Charles proud. Harry is just hilarious as the vacuous illiterate and Eugenie and Beatrice make my day with their naïve perception of anything and everything. Kate and Pippa’s Romany background isn’t that much of a lark yet, but the way William blurts out, “Gypsuh!” in his gloriously awful Received Pronunciation, makes up for it all. Interestingly, the real Wills has been under scrutiny for his more modern usage of RP, which makes fake William’s irregular vowels, for want of a better word, all the more relevant. In his world, ‘truly’ is pronounced ‘trullah’ and this, as well as all the other intentional ‘mistakes’ are what gives mockusoaps like ‘The Windsors’ free reign (there I go again) to throw anything into the mix.

At this point in the series, I think my only cause to cringe has been Camilla’s gynaecology scene. Oh, how I sucked the cloth of my knickers far, far up into my crack at the sight of those stirrups!

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Excellent review, Anna. Sadly, I hated the show. As you may have noticed from my review, I thought The Windsors was a missed opportunity to satirize the royal family properly. Instead we got vulgar unsubtle slapstick, the comedy equivalent of custard pies in the face. It's so unoriginal to depict the royals as a bunch of morons. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't... either way, it's not funny anymore. Anna... we're going to have to agree to disagree.

Anna May's picture

Your review certainly does give the slight impression of intense hatred. Personally, I don't know that I'd want a more satirical vibe from this particular series or indeed the actors involved. I'm completely happy to watch these idiots. Sometimes I just want to look at the TV and not have to think at all and you have to agree The Windsors requires very little brain power. My opinions here are given more as a viewer than an experienced critic such as yourself, so I apologize in advance if my glass may be irritatingly half-full at times.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Anna, your opinion is every bit as valid as mine. And you make your points well. It's good to be a glass-half-full kinda person. But sadly I found The Windsors to be a glass-completely-empty kinda experience.

mansellmum's picture

I really enjoyed watching this on Friday and actually laughed out loud a few times, obviously an enormous micky take out of our Royals but I found it hilarious (off with my head). Loved the over the top acting and the ridiculous posh accents, also the fact that the actors' all had a better head of hair than the Royal's they were portraying. Harry Enfield was brilliant and loved Prince Harry, Pippa, Eugenie and Bea, yes Camilla in the stirrups was a bit too far but otherwise harmless fun.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

I'd have liked it to have been a lot more vicious. Harry Enfield does a really good, funny impression of Charlie. The rest of the cast neither look nor sound like the royals they're supposed to be playing. They're like a load of random chinless wonder clowns. I don't think I even smiled, let alone laughed.

Anna May's picture

What has happened to me! This episode of The Windsors had me laughing out loud all the way through!

I was actually expecting to become increasingly immune to William’s ridiculous accent and Harry’s dim-wittedness, not to mention Beatrice and Eugenie and their out of favour mum, Fergie, but this one hit me hard. Hand on heart, I have not laughed at a comedy so much in years. Edward still hasn’t stood up to be counted as a reason to laugh, but the overall madness of it all just kept building and building until I had to give in.

For me, a good comedy has me doing all I can to stifle each laugh so I can concentrate on the next bit. I could have burst, I really could. It literally was a belly full of laughs...and when Prince William told his dad, in all seriousness, “Oh, I don't know, I was just wondering whether what we do as royals is...a bit wank,” I was unable to recover from thereon in.

Sorry (not sorry) to all those who can’t bear it, but I’m standing firm on this one. Maybe it’s the fact I haven’t seen anything as silly as this for years and just hadn’t realized how much I missed it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m going bonkers in my old age. If that’s the case? Good! I like it!

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

All I can say is I'm glad you find it funny, Anna. I really am. Sadly, we might just have to agree to disagree on this one.

Jolyon101's picture

Made me smile rather than laugh but its hard to parody a topic that already does such a good job of doing this to itself. Harry Enfield as always is good value but I couldn't watch Hugh Skinner as William without constantly thinking of him as the intern in the excellent 2012.