Magazine article The Spectator

Royal Treatment

Magazine article The Spectator

Royal Treatment

Article excerpt

On the very night that Monarch: The Royal Family at Work (BBC1, Monday) was being broadcast whom should I bump into at the Pen International quiz at the Café Royal in the queue for the coats but Stephen Lambert.

Lambert, you may remember, was the head of the independent production company RDF who personally edited that dodgy reel preview which seemed to show the Queen walking out in a huff from a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, when in real life she hadn't. As a result, he had to step down at RDF, while Peter Fincham lost his job as controller of the BBC, and dark things were muttered about the documentary being doomed never to see the light of day.

Well, that would have been stupid, wouldn't it? You can't secure hours and hours of 'unprecedented access' footage of the royal family, grab millions of pounds worth of publicity by being on the front page of every newspaper for a week, lose half your key staff and then decide to keep the programme locked in the vaults, can you? In fact, I'm slightly puzzled as to why the commentators who mooted this alarmist drivel expected to be taken seriously. (Ditto anything one ever reads by an environment correspondent on a broadsheet newspaper. ) 'Hey, Stephen, ' I say, because I know him a bit (decent enough cove, though a terrible knee-jerk pinko as all his TV kind are;

very foxy wife who writes for the Guardian, thinks she's a lefty but is actually an unwitting Tory). 'It's your royal documentary on tonight.' 'Yes, ' he replies. 'That's right.' Yes, I'm sorry that anecdote didn't go anywhere. The thing is, though, I only really mentioned it to show a) the impressive breadth of my circle of acquaintance and b) so I could point out that my team, the Mail on Sunday team, won the quiz. And the questions were really hard and obscure, too.

So hard and obscure, in fact, that we spent most of the evening whingeing about how our talents were wasted on such nonsense and that if this had been a proper quiz we'd have won easily. Marcus Berkmann and Susanna Gross were on our team, so you can perhaps take a bit of Spectator pride in our victory, too.

Anyway, Monarch. The first episode dealt with the Queen's state visit to the United States in May this year -- the one where President Bush got that sharp, reproving look when during a public address he almost suggested that the Queen had been there since 1776. …

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