Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Article excerpt

Mary, Queen of Shops 9pm, BBC2

The idea of an opinionated expert turning around the lives of others is hardly, as our saturated brains know, a groundbreaking television idea.

However, there's something quite compelling about this new series, possibly because it pitches itself at the business-revitalising, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares end ofthe market, rather than in the vanity/cod-psychology arena.

Retail guru Mary Portas has advised well-known stores, and now turns her attention to independent fashion shops.

First, Brighton boutique Ju Ju, with its, er & eclectic stock and lack of custom. Owners Tim and Soly (together, right) know they need to take action, and Ms Portas doesn't beat about the bush.

"You are running this business from a place of total schizophrenic insecurity," she tells them.

Naturally there are stunts; Portas takes Soly and Tim into the streets of Brighton to gather opinions on their shop, as well as showing them new fashion collections and a radical marketing campaign.

However, even though Portas is straightforward in her dispensing of wisdom, and the programme is not without its share of tears, it doesn't feel as if it is deliberately trying to shock.

In fact

well, certainly in this opening episode

you end up warming to both Portas and her charges..

Queen Camilla 9pm, Channel 4

The relationship between the Prince of Wales and his now wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has been analysed on many previous programmes, but this new documentary tells the story of their acquaintance in more intimate detail.

The couple's early meetings, strong bond and secret association are re-hashed, as well as their tentative steps towards public acceptance following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Now this is interesting stuff to royal-watchers, although the film's central question

how Camilla (right) might function as a queen-figure (not in name, of course) if and when Charles ascends to the throne

is not answered with anything like the level of detail given to the history of the romance.

Unsurprisingly, friends and experts

some of whom, we are told, are speaking on the record for the first time proffer their opinions. …

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