Cheers to the UK
Why do we love the British so? Is it their muffins’ irresistible nooks and crannies? Those nifty double-decker buses? The brilliant English countryside? Harry Potter? Tea???
Nonsense — it’s the royal family of course! The rise and fall of Charles and Di’s marriage, Will and Kate’s wedding, the Diamond Jubilee, Fergie — you know you were glued to your TV sets, afraid to tear yourself away from the pomp, circumstance and tabloid-worthy gossip.
With the London Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, interest in all things British is at fever pitch. Join THIRTEEN in saluting top historical, non-historical and often hysterical depictions of British Royalty over the years on PBS. View our slideshow and share your own royal memories.
1. This Would Never Fly on Downton Abbey
Dame Judi Dench’s career has been nothing short of legendary. One of her finest roles has to be her Academy-Award nominated portrayal of Queen Victoria in Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown
, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre
in 2000. The film, loosely based on actual events, depicts the unconventional relationship between the Queen and her Scottish servant John Brown.
Following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Victoria finds solace though Mr. Brown’s company. Problem is—they get a bit too comfortable with each other, leading many of the Queen’s servants and royal family members to worry about Brown’s influence over the queen. Let the drama unfold! (And boy did it ever.) Watch the trailer
2. Roadshow Relic from the Queen
Who wouldn’t want to own a piece of the royal family? Unfortunately, Buckingham Palace isn’t holding a yard sale anytime soon (although if the world economy stays sluggish…). In 2005, PBS viewer-favorite Antiques Roadshow
provided the next best thing, as we watched a collector cash in on his memorabilia from the famed Cunard ship — the RMS Queen Mary.
Among the gentleman’s possessions were a telephone used in a first-class stateroom, a “launch booklet” that pre-dated the naming of the ship and a souvenir booklet given to passengers on the maiden voyage. Estimated value - $4,000. As the Queen likes to say – cha-ching! Watch the appraisal.
3. The Royal(ly Early) Wedding
April 29th 2011. Who can forget that incredible day when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were united in matrimony? Well, probably many Americans considering the proceedings took place in the wee hours of the morning on this side of the pond. Nevertheless, millions of American Royal Watchers sacrificed a good night’s sleep to watch the events unfold on PBS.
What were they rewarded with? Only the Super Bowl of British royalty. From the gown to the waves, the flyovers to the kiss on the balcony, the Disneyesque carriage ride to the outrageous hats—it was a true reminder that absolutely no one comes close to the British in putting on a show. Relive your favorite Royal Wedding Day moments
4. Malice in the Palace
Some of the world’s finest actors have portrayed the title role in William Shakespeare’s King Lear—Sir Laurence Olivier and James Earl Jones are just a couple. Joining this esteemed list is the great Sir Ian McKellen, who returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company following a 17-year hiatus for Director Trevor Nunn’s spectacular production that aired on Great Performances
The iconic tragedy tells the tale of Lear’s proposal to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on their love for him, spiraling forward to dramatize the king’s deception, betrayal and eventual descent into madness. “A crowning glory for McKellen,” wrote the London Sunday Observer
. We couldn’t agree more. Watch the full performance
5. Bean Meets the Queen
You’d think that giving the man who demonstrated how to drive a car while sitting on its roof and how not
to cook a holiday turkey an opportunity to greet a ruling monarch would be out of the question. Luckily for us, in this memorable moment from Mr. Bean (portrayed by Rowan Atkinson), our favorite zany Brit finds himself in a receiving line for Her Majesty, the Queen.
In the tense moments leading up to his encounter, he practices his greeting, flosses his teeth and shines his shoes (in a matter most-definitely not royal). Our only problem with this brilliant piece of comedy? We can’t believe Bean didn’t bring teddy along. Watch the clip
6. The British Invade the White House … Again
Sure, the British burned it down in 1814, but we've clearly decided to forgive and forget if we’re inviting Brits to the White House to honor them! And while he may not be a blood relative, you can be sure most of us Yanks consider Sir Paul McCartney British royalty. In 2010, the Beatle was honored by President Obama with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The concert, seen on In Performance at the White House
on THIRTEEN, featured renditions of McCartney’s music by Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and David Grohl (who totally rocked “Band on the Run”) and of course, Sir Paul himself, who closed the evening with “Hey Jude,” getting a little help from his friends—the First Family—on stage. Watch the concert
7. Storming the Castle
In Windsor Castle
(aired on THIRTEEN in 2006), viewers were taken deep inside the walls of the 1,000-year-old structure for an unprecedented look at the Queen’s favorite home —a “kingdom within a kingdom.” We felt the nerves of the massive staff as they meticulously prepared for a state dinner in honor of then French President Jacques Chirac. We admired the incredible priceless works of art, furniture and antiques that adorned the castle’s 900 rooms. And we relished our time with the best tour guide you could hope for— the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who for 50 years has served as ranger for the castle's 15,000 acre park.
Best of all we discovered the answers to so many of our burning royal family questions…like what a fendersmith is. Watch episodes online
8. The Grand Royals of Grantham
It only began airing in 2011, but Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey
has quickly become one of the most popular public television series of all-time. At the center of the drama (season 3 comes in January – hang on!!), of course, is the honorable Crawley family and the men and women who (almost always) faithfully serve them.
The family’s grand dame is Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (portrayed by the amazing Dame Maggie Smith) who consistently entertains with pearls of wisdom such as “No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house.” She’s one royal we definitely want on our side. Enter the world of Downton Abbey
9. The Queen of Longevity
Queen Elizabeth II may have just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, but she’s still got a few years before she catches up with Queen Victoria, who ruled for a record 64 years. More incredible though was the transformation of England from a small island nation into a world superpower under her reign.
As we learned on the series Queen Victoria’s Empire
(recent aired on THIRTEEN), during her reign Britain produced half the world’s industrial goods, planted the British flag in the Middle East, India and Africa and produced a wealth of personalities (such as Benjamin Disraeli, Prince Albert and David Livingstone…we presume) who shaped British imperialism. Premieres 6/19 at 9pm on THIRTEEN - Watch a preview
10. Hail Arthur – King of the Britons!
The legendary tales of King Arthur have been recounted since the monarch’s rule in the early 6th century. But it was only a matter of time before the comedic geniuses of Monty Python would add to the canon. The comedy troupe appeared in numerous series and specials on THIRTEEN over the years, including the beloved Monty Python’s Flying Circus
In a memorable sketch from their film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
, King Arthur and his brave (well, some of them) knights approach the “bridge of death,” where they must answer five questions (three questions!) in order to continue their quest and avoid death. (Note to self: Look up the capital of Assyria.) Watch the clip
11. Friday, We’re in Love
Posh and Becks? Nahh – too trendy. William and Kate? Yesterday’s news. Charles and Camilla? Hahaha – good one. No, our favorite British royal couple has got to be His Royal Highness, King Friday XIII (13 - how appropriate!) and his lovely wife, Queen Sara Saturday.
Ruling Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make Believe for decades on THIRTEEN, they maintain a perfect balance, with Friday’s stubborn and irrational behavior often grounded by Sara’s calm demeanor. Their royal wedding in 1969 was filled with the expected splendor, including a spectacular cake that took 81 hours to make. What’s that? Not British you say? Hey, it’s the Neighborhood of Make Believe! :) Watch the King serenade his beloved "pet."
12. Long Live the Queen Vic!
For more than 25 years, residents of London's Albert Square have often gathered at their beloved pub—The Queen Victoria—on the hit British soap EastEnders
. The Queen Vic has seen more changes in ownership than anyone but the most-loyal fans can possibly determine (we didn't even try) and has played host to pretty much every type of drama imaginable.
We’ve seen deaths, births, shootings, weddings, baby-swapping (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and, perhaps most notably, a massive fire in the 2010 season. Interesting to note, the set was actually burned down and reconstructed as part of the series’ move to high-definition. Relive the fire scene - if you can bear it
13. Game of Thrones
Last but far from least is the newest program of the lot—Queen and Country
. So new, in fact, it hasn’t aired yet! Catch the premiere Sunday, 7/1 at 8pm on THIRTEEN. In the series, veteran journalist Sir Trevor McDonald honors Queen Elizabeth II’s recent Diamond Jubilee with a look at the grand traditions and age-old institutions surrounding the monarchy.
Witness the "Changing the Guard" at Buckingham Palace, join the Queen on her royal visits and travel back to the earliest days of her reign, when a young Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI (you know, The King’s Speech guy). Watch a preview
Bring Home a British Bonanza!
You've taken the time to peruse our slideshow, and we'd like to thank you by giving you the chance to win a most proper reward - our amazing British Prize Pack!
Along with a classic THIRTEEN tote bag you'll find the complete series of Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey
on DVD and Queen and Country
on DVD. Cheers!! Enter to win