Prince Phillip at 90 Review: Frost/Nixon It Ain’t

PRINCE PHILLIP AT 90: Tuesday 24th May, ITV1, 8pm

Before we get started, may I just say this. Prince Philip is a pretty exceptional man. He and the Queen have been travelling the world with a full schedule of people to visit and places to open for more than forty years, on top of this he’s the figurehead for more than 800 organisations AND he’s ninety. NINETY! We can moan about him and the Royal Family from time to time, but to be honest by the age of ninety I think that I might be dead or sat at home fascinated by every twist and turn on Deal or No Deal. Not travelling through Ireland with my wife to help make amends for god-knows-how-many years of Anglo-Irish hostility. I’m just saying…

As such, it’s a shame that ITV’s latest documentary on his life, including a rare interview with the man himself, just doesn’t do him justice. If the BBC had made this programme it would have been very different.

1) It wouldn’t have been presented by Alan Titchmarsh, a man with such weak interview skills that any real interest was lost after his first most bland question, with no follow-up to Prince Philip’s bland answer. Parkinson this ain’t. In fact the most intriguing thing I found about him from AN ENTIRE HOUR was that he has a barbecue in his backyard, and according to a secondary source, likes to cook venison. As a piece of journalism, it made OK!TV look like Panorama.

2) If it was on the BBC it wouldn’t have slipped past unsettling periods of his life so fast that I had to rewind the tape to double-check that it actually was mentioned. Surprising stories about his youth, such as the fact that his mother had a mental breakdown whilst his father ran off with a mistress to Southern France, was glossed over so quickly it seemed that all they had done for research was just read his Wikipedia page before repeating it on screen. Subjects were covered so loosely and at Concorde speed the whole show was literally “Philip lived in exile in Greece, oh look there’s a war on, here comes the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh awards, Diana died – isn’t that sad, the Queen is lovely, 90th celebratory birthday is known for a gaffe or too, happy future, possible grandchildren BYE.”

3) If the BBC had made this documentary it wouldn’t have the sound of a jazz trumpet and cheap violin constantly bouncing away in the background throughout that made it seem as classy and as sophisticated as a plastic bottle of Budweiser. The music was so jarring, so twee and so “on third floor is lingerieâ€?, any watching lift technician might have suffered a mental breakdown.

So if you want to watch an empty interview for a straight hour with empty quips from Giles Brandreth about how he has caused gaffs in the past, but generally he’s a lovely guy, then this show is for you. However my question for ITV is that after enjoying the powerful and thought-provoking Strangeways YOU’VE GIVEN US THIS? God help us. And you ma’am.