The Aristocrats: Review

Thursday 22nd November, 9pm on Channel 4

Och where to begin. The Aristocrats is a new two part documentary aims to give us a peek into the life of the very Upper Classes of British Society. The first episode is centred around the Duke of Marlborough and the running of Britain’s most magnificent stately home Blenheim Palace.

You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect stereotype of the British Nobility than the Duke Of Marlborough, extremely tall, bug eyes and a fleshy lower face that morphs so seamlessly into his neck that that the term “chinless wonderâ€? could have been invented for him. He speaks with an upper lip so stiff with breeding and privilege that it is hard to distinguish his words from the vast selection of plummy vowel sounds, coughs and splutters that accompany them.

We join the Duke as he patrols the ancestral seat, deploying servants…ahem….I mean employees, to make sure everything is ship shape for the opening of the Palace to the general public. Along the way we meet the Duke’s eldest son; the notorious James Marquis of Blandford. You might imagine that this programme was the brainchild of the Marquis as some kind of PR exercise after his shameful appearance on the BBC’s Famous, Rich and Homeless back in 2009.

In this more controlled environment James come over reasonably well, a dishevelled former bad boy (twat) who has cleaned up his act in an effort to prove to his father that he is responsible enough to take over the family business.

If not for that, then I fail to understand the existence of this show. It is certainly not for entertainment value nor education or even titillation. A programme on the history and architecture of Blenheim would have been much interesting. Instead, we meet the Duke and his family who seem nice enough and we learn that running a stately home is difficult and expensive (which is pretty bloody obvious).

And, that’s about it.

No one is charismatic, funny or gives anything away. The whole thing is too controlled and measured to mean anything to a modern audience.
It could possibly have been of interest 20 or 30 years ago where the chance to glimpse behind the curtain of these people would’ve no doubt have been thrilling. However, in a world where we can with just a click of a mouse, read about or even see the T and A of our Royal Family this sort of thing just makes for painfully dull and tedious television. That it goes on for a whole hour is surely an “up yoursâ€? to TV reviewers everywhere as we are the only ones who have to sit through the whole thing.

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