ROLAND WHITE: Tapes and a look of disdain for Di's stepmother Raine

ROLAND WHITE reviews last night’s TV: Secret drops, tapes and a look of disdain for Di’s stepmother Raine



Escape To The French Chateau: Make Do And Mend


Guess what they almost certainly were not watching down at Highgrove last night?

Diana (ITV) marked what would have been the Princess’s 60th birthday next Thursday, and Prince Charles did not emerge entirely well from this hour and a half.

Only Arthur Edwards had a good word to say about him. The veteran royal photographer, who had spotted a tender moment between the couple on an overseas tour, observed: ‘When people say to me that he didn’t love Diana, I don’t believe that.’

What did she believe, though? We revisited that famous ‘whatever love means’ interview. Even before Charles said those words in 1981, it wasn’t love you could see in his fiancée’s eyes — it was resignation, apprehension and surrender.

It is impossible not to be moved by the sight of Diana’s sons walking behind the coffin after her death in 1997

Perhaps that’s hindsight, of which plenty was on display. There were poignant pictures, home movies and anecdotes of her childhood and happy teenage years, when she had a poster of Prince Charles on her bedroom wall.

Poignant because we know what was coming next.

There wasn’t much in the programme that we didn’t know already, but ITV had rounded up some good talking heads, including the Mail’s Richard Kay.

Diana’s cousin, Diana Macfarlane, was a coup for the programme, giving her first interview. When the Princess’s stepmother Raine Spencer was mentioned, the expression of disdain on cousin Diana’s face was a wonder to behold.

Dr James Colthurst met Princess Diana on a ski trip, and became such a close friend that he acted as go-between when Andrew Morton was writing his famous book.


The South Bank Show (Sky Arts) began a new series with Melvyn Bragg, 81, who has occupied the presenter’s chair since 1978. That’s an impressive 43 years, but he’s a long way from eclipsing Sir Patrick Moore. He presented The Sky At Night for an astonishing 55 years.

In an example of the bizarre world in which Diana moved, Dr James told how he would put a list of Morton’s questions to Diana, record the answers, and then cycle to a secret rendezvous in London to hand over tapes and papers to the author. What a loss to the world of espionage.

The end is more than familiar. Whatever you think of the Royal Family, it is impossible not to be moved by the sight of her sons walking behind the coffin along sombre, crowded streets after her death in 1997. The 12-year-old Harry looks particularly forlorn in what was one of the defining moments of his life.

What a contrast over on Channel 4, where Dick and Angel Strawbridge were helping couples with DIY problems in Escape To The French Chateau: Make Do And Mend (C4).

This rather upmarket version of BBC1’s The Repair Shop is possibly the world’s most glamorous helpline. The Strawbridges guide families through repairs and household projects via a video link from their home, which has 45 rooms and 58 windows.

It’s probably making do in this huge French pile which makes Dick and Angel so cheery.

There can’t be anybody on television who chuckle so much with so little prompting. They make The Laughing Policeman seem like a sourpuss. The couple giggled happily – and inexplicably — at the sight of a restored sash window and a newly decorated landing, which was one of their projects.

They laughed while discussing a renovated shoe cupboard. They couldn’t contain their delight at some material — fashioned from old family photographs — used to cover a piano stool.

Their jollity and good humour are simply exhausting. Is a shoe cupboard really so amusing?

Perhaps Dick’s famous walrus moustache is simply getting a bit ticklish.

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