Friday, 8th


Royal biographers Andrew Morton and Hugo Vickers, and supposed “insiders” such as Lady Colin Campbell, gather round a table to discuss the Abdication Crisis and the mutual hatred between Wallis Simpson and the Queen Mother – described as a “knife fight between two tough women.” Their debate is lively and they’re not afraid to argue and disagree. “We all thought she had a face like an old boot!” says a very ungallant John Julius Norwich about Wallis. “I think you’re being a little unfair!” protests another.

Woven throughout their debate is a documentary about the crisis and a dramatisation of events with the Queen Mother (Emma Davies) sitting staunch and huffy on her sofa and Wallis Simpson (Gina McKee) elegant at her dressing table. Both talk to the camera about their loathing for the other.

Was Wallis one half of a great love story, or merely a gold-digger from a Chinese brothel where she perfected techniques such as “the Shanghai Squeeze”? And was the Queen Mother trying to defend the monarchy’s dignity or was she simply an absurd snob who had secretly hoped to marry Edward herself but had to settle for Bertie, the far less dazzling brother?

The only problem here is that the dramatic segments are so deliciously bitchy and alluring that it’s almost a disappointment to leave them and wade back into the real world of documentary and discussion.


Anyone pining for glamorous 1920s drama since the demise of Downton will be relieved to hear the new series of Mr Selfridge starts tonight. The 20s are roaring and the shop is filled with gowns and geegaws and dashing women done up in bobs and beads. That’s it, really: this show is about fashion and glamour and trivial little storylines, but it’s perfect for a quiet Friday night in if you’re a Downton convalescent who’s softly pining for the era.