1 9 9 4 (UK)
6 x 30 minute episodes
This irreverent sitcom purportedly set inside the walls of Buckingham Palace proved that in the 1990s even the Royal Family were fair game.
No royal personage was seen in the series, with all the action taking place behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace where a new street-smart PR man, Max Kelvin (Warren Clarke), had been appointed by a desperate royal family as their principal press officer (a clear and horrifying amalgam of PR man Max Clifford and former Editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie).
Kelvin (pictured at right) retained all the instincts of a tabloid hack, whereby no story cannot be enlivened by the addition of “a few tits”. He reckoned the posting was a short-cut route to a knighthood – others claimed he was a “dirty little republicanist”.
Kelvin’s principal foe was Lord Montague Bermondsey (Leslie Phillips) who, as Lord Chamberlain (head of the household) was eager to keep the monarchy in high esteem.
Joining in the battle against Kelvin were Caroline Finch (Serena Gordon), the Palace press officer; Sir Nicholas Foulsham (Neil Stacy), the Private Secretary; Lady Sharpcott (Margaret Courtenay), the heavy-drinking lady-in-waiting with a keen line in sexual reminiscences; and Giles Huntingdon (Jeremy Sinden), the Lord Chamberlain’s upper-class-twit nephew and assistant, a dab foot with a shooting rifle and so useless at his job that the other staff were continually forced to cover up his gaffes.
Other palace staff members included Danny (Barry Howard), the oh-so-gay footman, Ray (Sean Gallagher), his sharp junior, Kate the chambermaid (Louise Germaine), and Ambrose Stebbings (Preston Lockwood), winder of the royal clocks.
The House of Windsor had elements of Upstairs, Downstairs, but also of Drop The Dead Donkey. Scripts were written in advance, but late news items were inserted and the programmes taped only two days before screening to ensure topicality.
Some good ideas prevailed, but there weren’t many laughs to be had. Only one series was made.
Lord Montague Bermondsey
Sir Nicholas Foulsham