151. Royalty

Tapehead no 151

At least the title of Channel 4’s new series about the relationship between the press and the royal family comes clean. ‘Royals And Reptiles’ is a flagrantly biased, slanderous, assault on the noble art of prostitution. I mean journalism.

It opens with footage of what the suitably sombre narrator calls “Divorce Day” for the Prince and Princess of Wales.

“Their romance had been created by the media,” he intones, a statement of such outrageous revisionist chutzpa that even Stalin would choke on it. Even the most fervent monarchist would allow this as a callous arranged marriage, one pulled off by the royal family to provide an heir with Lovely Hair and boost popularity.

Charles confirmed this on the day of his engagement to Di, when he answered the BBC correspondent’s question whether he and Di were in love by squirming: “whatever love is.” (The reptile.)

This sets the tone, mourning the old days when life was like a Harry Enfield public information film, and Palace press officer Commander Colville, refused even to talk to the press at all.

Old footage of the Queen Mum going down the East End during the war, is shown without any mention of the fact, that this is the only useful thing anyone can remember her doing in 200 years. 

“During World War Two, broadcasters and journalists used the royal family to boost national morale,” the programme alleges, when it was clearly the other way round.

The demise of the relationship between the press and monarch, is blamed largely on the royal fall girl/harlot, Princess Margaret. When in certainty, it was actually the Queen’s vanity that set the ball rolling, by insisting the BBC films her coronation.

“There are always going to be unhappy periods in any family,” shrugs former royal press secretary, Rupert Allison.

Tapehead is glad to say that’s all there ever are now.

Just as Tapehead was defending the noble gentleman of the fourth estate, along comes ‘Cutting Edge’s rather lenient film about the lads who cobble together The Sport.

When it comes to contradicting the rather clichéd views that people have of them, neither proprietor David Sullivan nor editor Tony Livesey exactly cover themselves in glory.

“I’d love every woman to look like a fashion model or a movie star,” says Sullivan, adding that he’d like women to be “Beautifully packaged. Lovely clothes, lovely make-up…” (Lovely make-up ?!)

Livesey compares himself to Shakespeare before commenting on one topless model: “I’d rather have a picture of Les Ferdinand’s arse in the paper than her face.” Charming.

Mostly they worry their little heads with nothing more taxing, than cows with markings that look like Jimmy Hill’s face and the visit of 72-inch-breasted model Lolo Ferrari.

“It’s a massive operation,” Livesey says, for once missing the headline-sized pun.

The winner of The Sport’s competition gets to go trampolining with Lolo, a prize that frankly could be fatal.

Their big story concerns a mother who claims aliens have turned her son into a fish-finger, although even Livesey is having “Doubts whether the story is genuine.”

His solution shows a certain genius, ordering the reporter to get down to Asda, buy a packet of fish fingers, and see if the mother can pick her son out in an ID parade.

‘Modern Times’ looks at a specimen of social vermin who make the royal family and the tabloid press look classy: a tour manager.

Tour manager Tony Fordham is the Barry Evans of the DJ scene, principally jungle genius, LTJ Bukem’s posse as they burn up the front line of, er, Canada. (Tapehead bigs up the Ontario massive.)

The way Tony reinvents the formal structures of language certainly puts Martin Amis to shame. Like the way he says, “Fucking, we’re missing the plane here.” Brilliant.

Attempting to get his shirts laundered in Tokyo, meanwhile, reduces him to a series of sounds.

“On. Ing,” he explains patiently. “On. Ing. Eye. Eye-er. On. Ing. Hur. Av. You. Got. An. Eye-er. On. Ing. Bawd.”

Meanwhile, it’s the fictional equivalent of Bukem, Chris the jungle DJ’s turn to stop Holding On in the closing episode of Tony Marchant’s stunning dissection of London (low) life.

To Tapehead’s amazement, some of the characters not only make it to the end, but actually start cheering up. Others are less fortunate and her (finally) is where the title comes good.

Metaphorically, all of us in this glorious capital are holding on to someone. It’s just that some of us are jumping out of windows/off bridges/off rooftops as we do so.

Cutting Edge: 9pm, Tue, C4 

Royals And Reptiles: 8pm, Sun, C4ing: 9pm, Tue, C4

Holding On: 9.30pm, Tue, BBC2

Modern Times: 9pm, Wed, BBC2