Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Starkey Facts Brought to Life

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Starkey Facts Brought to Life

Article excerpt


Monarchy 9pm, Channel 4

DR DAVID STARKEY's talking-atthecamera style of presentation may be oldfashioned, but his straightforward speeches and intense stare somehow manage to keep your concentration focused throughout each factsaturated programme.

This week, Starkey turns his attention to James II, sibling and successor to Charles II, whose catholicism opened the religious wounds that then underpinned 17thcentury Britain, bringing him into conflict with parliament, bishops and courts. (He came off badly in all these battles.) James's family life merely added to the debate. His two daughters from his first marriage, Mary and Anne, were protestants, but when he fathered a male heir by his catholic second wife, his daughters were among those who questioned the legitimacy of their half-brother's birth, suggesting the baby was not royal but had been smuggled into the palace.

Over in Holland, James's protestant son-in-law William looked like a less controversial candidate for the British throne, and Parliament's approaches to him laid the foundations for what we now know as constitutional monarchy.

Starkey's gift for storytelling keeps things moving without the need for shoddily acted dramatic scenes, and his script is elevated above stale lecture by the occasional fascinating detail, such as the crayfish being placed next to the blancmange at James's coronation banquet.

Are you taking notes, Heston Blumenthal?

Disappearing Britain 9pm, Five

SARAH LANCASHIRE regularly plays tough-but-profound Northern women with a habit of gazing at some unidentified point while ruminating on terribly important things. In this new series, which provides a rather sweet take on history with elements of Who Do You Think You Are? and a nod towards BBC archive-film extravaganza The Lost World Of Mitchell And Kenyon, Lancashire uses this technique to full effect when she returns to her home town of Oldham in order to reminisce about Wakes Weeks, when all the community's factories would close and entire towns would head off on holiday together to Blackpool.


Saddam's Road To Hell 8pm, Channel 4

FOLLOWING Saddam Hussein's death sentence, this bleak film tries to find out what happened to the thousands of Kurdish men and boys who disappeared during the early part of his reign. …

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