The Prince of Wales: Up Close, ITV1

by | May 16, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Well, it was very worthy and parts were interesting and informative, but it wasn’t what we’d call riveting television.

What was good about it?

• Prince Charles’s fond memories of his school years at Gordonstoun. The school encouraged team building by operating a full fire and coastguard service. Charles remembered longing for a ship to run aground so they could spring into action.

• Charles speaking with feeling and a great deal of understanding about subjects such as the Toxteth riots. It made a refreshing change from the usual media-led kneejerk reactions.

• In a similar vein, Charles was disapproving of media labels such as ‘hoodies’ and ‘chavs’, which he rightly felt do not help anyone and lacked understanding. The contempt he clearly holds for the tabloids was clearly evident – and applaudable.

• The programme could have been accused of fawning over ‘His Highness’ a little, but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with a little respect and Sir Trevor McDonald’s almost reverential tone was preferable to the usual tabloid barbs.

• Charles’s views on religion were particularly enlightened.

• The Prince’s Trust is another organisation that has enlisted celebrities to help its cause, but at least they are bona fide famous and talented people – no sign of any Big Brother contestants here. Phil Collins sneaked in there, though.

• Rio Ferdinand remembered to turn up to answer a few questions about his work for the Trust.

• Some of the excellent success stories that have resulted from the help of the Trust.

• Footage of Princess Diana getting down and funky at a Prince’s Trust concert. Ah, the Queen of Hearts, she understood us proles, she did. She loved pop music!

What was bad about it?

• This was less The Prince of Wales: Up Close, but more of a puff piece for the Prince’s Trust. It was certainly interesting and clearly the Trust does some fantastic work in the country, but almost the entire focus of the programme was on the Trust, not on Charles as a person. Why not just be honest and call it The Prince’s Trust: Up Close?

• Trevor McDonald began his voiceover by claiming they’d had ‘unprecedented access’ for one year with Charles and Clarence House. Yet there was nothing there to back this up, other than a brief walk around Clarence House with Charles talking about his Grandmother (and Noel Coward), an interview clearly conducted in one afternoon and a few shots of maybe four or five official visits to Trust projects. This was hardly ‘unprecedented.’

• Gwynneth Paltrow donating a yoga lesson taught by her to help raise money for the Trust. Wow. Now there’s a prize worth bidding for.

• The bizarre out-takes at the end that weren’t funny in the slightest and we’re not sure what they’re purpose was. To make him seem more human? Throughout the programme we saw people guffawing at the most banal of comments by the various Royals on view, yet nothing ever said was particularly funny – it’s as if ‘ordinary’ people are so shocked that the Royals aren’t robots that any slight show of personality should afford them a huge pat on the back.

• Trevor McDonald’s rather fawning style where he fashionably slagged off governments while carefully massaging Charles’s ego.

• We learnt very little about Charles’s personality, despite a few insights into his views on disaffected youth. His only comment about Camilla was “Yes, great support”, so he was clearly determined to keep the focus on the Trust and not on his personal life. Again, this is fair enough, but the programme makers were still disingenuous and promised something they simply failed to deliver.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

16/05/2006

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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