Entertainment channel E! are probably best known for their red carpet coverage, Fashion Police and being the home of a little family you might have heard of, called the Kardashians.
But now, the channel owned by NBC Universal, have created their first scripted drama. A drama based on the British monarchy, not the British monarchy we have right now, probably not the monarchy we’re going to have. The 10-part series, led by Elizabeth Hurley, depicts the lives of a fictional monarchy in modern times where power is everything, limits do not exist, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford.
The Royals is a series that will no doubt divide opinion. Think of it this way, if Crossroads, El Dorado and Footballers Wives had a baby, this would most certainly be the result…
Leading the cast is Elizabeth Hurley who plays the part of Queen Helena, a queen with zero similarities to the Queen we all know… Queen Elizabeth! She’s fierce, fabulous, polished and poised and together with her husband, King Simon (Vincent Regan) they’re keen to keep the family afloat and portray themselves as classy and full of grace to their adoring public. The reality of course, is really rather different.
Her two children, twins Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) and Prince Liam (William Mosely) live a pretty wild lifestyle, a lifestyle that includes sex, excessive drug taking and serious hangovers. As a result, they’re tabloid gold, cue the front page headline ‘Royal Beaver’ referring to an incident where Eleanor flashed her… well, I don’t think you need me to tell you what she flashed! As for Liam, he’s a typical playboy prince, taking full advantage of being one of the most sought after bachelors on the planet.
Then there’s Princess Penelope and Princess Maribel, and although we are told that all the characters are entirely fictional, you can’t help but notice the similarity between them and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Lydia Rose Bewley (Drifters) together with newcomer Hatty Preston play the two ‘ugly sisters’ brilliantly and the two of them are by far the funniest characters in The Royals.
So here’s where I stand on The Royals. Part of me hated it (I spent most of the episode cringing at what I was seeing), but the other part of me actually rather enjoyed it. It’s daft, completely unbelievable, and in parts not very well acted, but does all of that really matter if you’re after a bit of cheap entertainment? Surely there’s nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure? Some of the best TV programmes have been so bad they’re good and this looks like another one of those.
If The Royals was billed as the next Broadchurch then sure, it’s a million miles away, it’s not even close. But it’s not, the (endless) TV trails are clearly very tongue-in-cheek and sell the show as a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
From what I know of Liz Hurley, Queen Helena doesn’t appear to be that different to the actress herself, and for that reason I think she’s the perfect actress to play that part. That’s not to say that this is Hurley’s finest work, it really isn’t, but good on her for agreeing to play the part. I doubt she was blown away by the cliched script. I know I certainly wasn’t, but perhaps like me, she thought it would be a lot of fun, which it is.
If what E! wanted to do was to make a big noise with their first scripted drama, then The Royals has certainly achieved that. It’s already one of the most anticipated and talked about TV dramas of the year, and will no doubt divide opinion; some will love it, some will hate it. But secretly many people all over the country (and indeed America) will be secretly tuning in every week and calling the show their guilty pleasure.
So will I be watching The Royals again? Yes, but probably more out of curiosity than anything else. I’m keen to see how far the series will go, what other ridiculous scenarios this fictional family can get themselves into. Plus I wouldn’t want to miss Joan Collins’ appearance as the Grand Duchess of Oxford, Helena’s mother!
The Royals begins Wednesday 25th March at 9pm on E!