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Don’t believe the critics, ‘The Royals’ is terrific TV trash

By Christian Guiltenane

It’s already been dubbed as the worst TV show in the history of television, but that hasn’t stopped the anticipation for E! Channel’s The Royals, which premieres on March 25.

Fair enough, it’s unlikely to win any awards, but The Royals is a refreshingly ridiculous and glossy romp behind the palatial doors of the English royal household – albeit a fictitious one.

Elizabeth Hurley plays Helena, the cold-hearted and manipulative queen whose disillusioned hubby King Simon is intent on dissolving the monarchy. Meanwhile, her eldest son Prince Robert has just been killed in military service, his younger brother Liam (William Moseley) has been having it away with the help (well, Ophelia, the daughter of the royal head of security) and her smoky-eyed, coke-snorting daughter Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) has been papped flashing her royal subject in a nightclub!

Chuck in the King’s predatory brother Cyrus (Jake Maskall) and his less-than-glam Sloaney pig-faced daughters Princesses Penelope and Maribel (Lydia Rose Bewley and Hatty Preston) and you have a royal family that sounds all too familiar. Only remember – this is fictitious!

Created by Mark Schwan, the man behind teen drama One Tree Hill, this is a knowingly tongue-in-cheek camp-fest that promises to take us on a rollercoaster ride of wild soap opera cliches over the next few weeks.

Think Dynasty 2.0: it’s a trashy, superglossy escapist kitschfest produced for the Twitter generation, complete with lavish mansions, designer gowns and tousled locks and campy dialogue that will have fans a-tweeting until their thumbs fall off.


When Helena is told Sir Elton John wants to pop round to the palace she coolly snipes: “Give someone a title and they treat the place like it’s a Starbucks”. The lush and ever-pouty Liz is also given the pleasure of spitting out other soon-to-be classic one liners: ‘The footman nearly saw my snatch” and “She’s stoned and eating the prime minister’s pie” in reference to her wayward daughter’s debauched night with her dumbo cousins. One early stand out scene sees Helena reprimanding her daughter for flashing her ladyparts on a drunken night out, holding aloft a tabloid bearing the headline ‘Royal Beaver’.

While Moseley and Tom Austen, who plays conniving footman Jaspar, are the eye candy, it’s actually the women who steal the show. Elizabeth Hurley looks like she’s just walked off a catwalk, while Aussie star Alexandra Park is the breakout star who not only looks remarkably similar to her screen mum (well done casting agents), but manages to be wittily bitchy and heart-breakingly sensitive at the same time. And she rocks a smoky eye to boot.

But there is more to come – soap royalty Joan Collins is soon to join the cast as the Grand Duchess of Oxford, which means gay men young and old will no doubt self-combust.

In a world in which TV drama these days has to be ice cool or middle of the road to appeal to the masses, The Royals is a breath of fresh air. It’s flavoursome chewing gum for the mind that might not change the world but will make it a hell of a lot more of a fun place. And to those snooty old critics who poo-pooed it – my, what a miserable, weary existence you must have.

The Royals - Season: 1