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“True Believers”: Episode Five of “White House Plumbers” pondered.

F. Murray Abraham | Pressroom

And this year’s award for the least imaginative use of a veteran Oscar winning actor in a guest starring capacity goes to F. Murray Abraham as Judge Sirica. They could have hired any serious-looking older actor and asked them to deliver those few lines of dialogue. Sirica is merely a thoughtful judicial presence in this final episode and Abraham is given no scope whatsoever to develop what could have been a very interesting role. As cameos are concerned, it was nowhere near as much fun as realising that you are hearing Robert Redford on the phone to Hunt, and that you are basically witnessing the other end of a conversation you’ve seen dozens of times while watching All the President’s Men. Assuming that you’ve seen All the President’s Men dozens of times. Which you all have.

Meanwhile Liddy is having the time of his life. Throughout the trial, he performs his non-co-operation with mischievous delight. Liddy does better out of this show than the real life character deserved in many ways. Liddy talked endlessly about being a soldier and about his sacred obligation to kill and or be killed. Liddy killed nobody and died of extreme old age. He burnt the palm of his hand a lot, without anyone asking him too. He was a hateful, bumbling, posturing klutz whose malevolent ideology was constantly being mitigated by his idiocy.

Once sentenced, Justin Theroux’ Liddy is even more cheerful than he was during the trial. Liddy of course served far more time than anyone involved in Watergate, and you suspect that he harboured a lifelong grudge against Jimmy Carter for eventually releasing him. In a truly bizarre turn of events, indicative of the madness of Liddy, we learn how he works hard and successfully to ensure that a fellow inmate receives the kosher meals he is entitled to and then celebrates his triumph with a Nazi salute and anthem.

Harrelson’s Hunt does not enjoy prison much. But he isn’t as happy to squeal as McCord was.

Now this has been, perhaps the main problem with the series. Howard Hunt (and family) are without doubt front and centre throughout. Woody Harrelson is the “star” of the show in terms of the bias of the screen time. Yet there’s a sense that Harrelson has been asked to cartoonify the role of Hunt so as to keep up with Liddy. Whereas if there’s one thing this comedy really needed it’s a straight man, a centre of relative normalcy around which the loons can orbit. Hunt is neither a cynic nor a martyr. He likes his creature comforts and he’s fond of money, but he still likes the idea of some sort of ideological justification for his actions. He is torn. Now such a character might well have centred the drama as a whole very effectively – but not the way Harrelson plays it (or was asked to play it).

Still, White House Plumbers was never dull, and you had the satisfaction of knowing all the way through that the most bizarre, clownish, stupid, and unbelievable moments in this drama – were the events that really and truly happened.

I have thoughts about the other episodes.

See below:

Episode One:

White House Plumbers, Episode One, Pondered.

Episode Two:

Episode Three:

Episode Four:

The Writer’s Wife. Episode Four of White House Plumbers, pondered.

In the wake of the Watergate arrests, Howard Hunt fails and flails. His wife Dorothy (Lena Headey) on the other hand becomes disciplined and focused. this is her best episode. Gordon Liddy seems to be actively enjoying the crisis, meanwhile – the more catastrophic the better as far as he’s concerned because catastrophes serve to legitimate extreme solutions.

Here’s the central issue – in order to keep everyone quiet, a great deal of money needs to be disbursed. But the more money is disbursed the more obvious the paper trail.

Perhaps an issue with this series is that it places Hunt front and centre (because Woody Harrelson is “the star”) and yet the centre cannot hold. Hunt in this episode finds himself suspended between Dorothy and Liddy. Dorothy is in focused survivalist mode and wants Hunt to commit to monetizing the narrative for the sake of their family. Liddy is in smug sacrificial mode and cannot bear the thought of Hunt betraying Liddy’s version of “the code”. Between the survivalist and the true believer, Harrelson’s Hunt vacillates and oscillates.

The drama as a whole does not seem fully or properly invested in the sheer inadequacy of Harrelson’s Hunt, which is why he is so often less interesting than the people around him.

Howard Hunt has often been linked to the JFK assassination by various conspiracy theorists. This drama is agnostic on the issue – presenting no evidence but only confirming that “there was a lot of talk”. In what is tragically and obviously a fictitious interview, Dorothy tells a reporter on the train that there’s much to be said about Howard and Dallas ’63, but a split second later the plane crashes and everybody including Dorothy is dead.

Howard is not answering the phone and we’re just left watching him stomp about the house while it’s left ringing.

I have thoughts about other episodes in this series:

See below:

Episode One:

White House Plumbers, Episode One, Pondered.

Episode Two:

Episode Three:

Don’t drink the whiskey at the Watergate. Episode 3 of “White House Plumbers” reviewed.

The Watergate bugging was not even Gordon Liddy’s favourite Gemstone project. He had wanted to give a big party on a yacht with sex workers for the Democratic National Convention to pull off a bit of unsophisticated kompromat. “The hookers will be so disappointed”, he opines when the plug is pulled on this idea.

There were several Watergate break ins, due to serial comical failures, one of which involves Hunt being locked in and having to piss in a whiskey bottler, thus inspiring the title of this episode.

Planting these bugs takes several tries, and even then the two most important ones don’t work. When instructed to go back in and fix the bugs, they are also told to look in a particular filing cabinet. Meanwhile the Hunt marriage is coming apart, as Dorothy pours scorn on the pretensions of the whole operation. She points out that Nixon is so far ahead in the polls that none of this subterfuge has any political relevance. One reasonable suggestion, however, is that Nixon was terrified that with McGovern tanking in the polls, Democrats might resort to producing evidence of the way in which Nixon helped to torpedo Johnson and Humphrey’s 1968 Vietnamese peace talks. The further McGovern lagged in the polls, the more likely the desperate Democrats might have been? Watergate may have been less about getting dirt on the Democrats than on determining whether or not the Democrats had a smoking gun from 1968 and if so whether they were prepared to produce it.

Hunt seems less motivated by patriotic fervour than a desire to keep up membership of country clubs. Unlike Liddy, Hunt cares what others think of him. The difference between Hunt’s family and Liddy’s family is that Hunt’s family looks familiarly sane enough to fall apart – unlike the strange cult that is Liddy’s family.

For a while it looks as though Hunt is finally “out”, and will accompany his wife and daughter to Paris. But then…

As Liddy and Hunt sit together by the reflecting pool, Liddy gives one of the great speeches of the series. Liddy feels that Hunt should be even more resentful of his treatment by those country club types, the type of people who benefit most from the American way of life who fail to respect those “soldiers” who are prepared to do “whatever it takes” to preserve it.

In a strange way, it is logical that Liddy ended up doing a lecture tour with Timothy Leary. Although Leary and Liddy disagreed on every conceivable topic, they at least concurred on the idea that there was a war on, and this shared recognition of a military paradigm smoothed over the fact that they had been fighting on opposite sides.

And so we get to Watergate arrests themselves, which some of us feel we know back to front by now. Liddy is vindicated in his vehement opposition to the inclusion of McCord. Hunt is even more frantic than Liddy as they pack up their hotel room. Had they been calmer and more thorough with the clean up, the subsequent investigation might have been significantly slower.

I have thoughts about other episodes in this series:

Episode One:

Episode One:

Episode Two:

“Please destroy this, HUH!” Episode Two of White House Plumbers, Pondered

In this episode, fatally, Howard Hunt (Woody Harrelson) actually does something right. Or rather, does something well. Dita Beard (Kathleen Turner, no less) is at the centre of a scandal that threatens John Mitchell, Attorney General. As a lobbyist for ATT she arranged to supply RNC with rooms for their San Diego conference in return for favourable consideration regarding a forthcoming anti-trust bill.

She was to be forced to testify, but Liddy and Hunt, anxious to retrieve their reputation after the Fielding debacle, manage to first whisk her away to Colorado on spurious medical grounds and then, when in hospital, disavow all knowledge of the memo. How influential either Hunt or Liddy were in deflating this scandal is not clear, but this drama puts them front and centre.

This is not an aspect of the expanded Watergate universe that I was particularly familiar with (and I thought I was familiar with most of it.)

Dita Beard was, by all accounts, cheerfully foul mouthed and unladylike. In White House Plumbers, she is visited first by Liddy wearing a completely silly wig, and then later in Colorado by Hunt wearing a fairly silly wig. Hunt claims that everything he does is deliberate, which includes putting flowers in Beard’s water glass. Turner’s Beard can banter. She is deliciously unfazed by Liddy’s excesses. She’s a strange yet deplorable joy to watch.

Hunt and Beard bond by putting family, previous family, about all else. The irony is laid on pretty thick at this point, since Hunt has been neglecting his own family, particularly his troubled daughter, for some time now. Lena Headey manages to somehow pull of the role of neglected housewife without looking like a domesticated stereotype.

We are also introduced to the country club. It becomes evident that Hunt can barely pay his dues there and we start to see a new form of resentment developing which Liddy shares and will exploit further. This is the resentment of those very right wing people who are prepared to subvert the rule of law, to “do what has to be done” in order to support a particular hierarchy directed towards those entitled Brahmins who would patronise or exclude them. Much as Hunt and Liddy take up arms against what they perceive to be the radical left (everybody to the left of Nixon), so they are simultaneously taking up arms against those supposedly on their own side who resist the military paradigm that they’ve constructed for themselves. Both Hunt and Liddy feel that Nixon (like kings and queens of old) would support the likes of the plumbers if he could only see past the patrician fog created by weak advisors. The monarch must love us really, even if there’s no way of demonstrating it.

I have thoughts about other episodes in this series:

Episode One:

Love and Marriage: Episode Four of “Prince Regent” reviewed.

My childhood memory of Prince Regent (1979) was of a rather middle-brow confection. Watching it now, I’m struck by its boldness. It’s not just an indictment of particular royals, it’s an indictment of the inherent dysfunctions of the hereditary principle.

It turns out Princess Caroline is very popular with the general public. She’s a sort of breath of fresh air. I like her. The king sort of likes her. Prince George loathes her with every fibre of his being. At the end of the episode it is agreed that a secret embassy will be sent to Rome to establish the status of his prior marriage to Maria Fitzherbert. In some ways the Prince George story is all very Henry VIII. A vain petulant overweight prince trying to get the Pope to decide on whether or not a marriage is a true marriage. Princess Caroline, meanwhile, is a sort of Anne of Cleves, perhaps?

But in other respects, the Regency court is nothing like the Tudor court. Neither Fox nor Pitt is in danger of being decapitated should they disappoint their royal patron. Neither of the two Georges can pay to get done the things they want to get done without a parliamentary majority.

In this episode we meet another brother. There are, of course, so many brothers that no drama can expect to accommodate them all. Alongside the likeable Frederick we now encounter the boorish git William. William (William IV to be) has two enthusiasms – sex workers and promoting the slave trade. He’s as selfish as George without George’s pretensions to style.

This is the episode where Prince George’s pretensions to reformist whiggery evaporate as soon as it seems that Pitt might be able to help him out where Fox cannot. Fox makes the very reasonably point that announcing your separation from your popular bride immediately after she’s given birth is decidedly impolitic, particularly in the context of a revolutionary era when republicanism is being openly debated.

The real loser in this episode appears to be Lady Jersey (Caroline Blakiston). Lord Jersey is the most compliant and accommodating husband imaginable allowing Lady Jersey to be perhaps more of a wife to Prince George than either Caroline or Maria. She it is who puts up with him, who seems to understand how to deal with him, and who works hard to promote his interests. Her reward for her largely successful efforts on his behalf is unceremonious dismissal. Prince George really is an insufferable fat ingrate.

Keith Barron seems to be ageing nicely into the role of Fox. He no longer seems to be performing cartoons of the character and there’s a sort of wisdom that comes from the wearisome length of years in opposition. (Clive Merrison’s Sheridan does not seem to be ageing at the same rate.) David Collings is likewise relaxing into his Pitt role – largely by drinking heavily.

But I remain Team Caroline. Perceived interlopers into the Royal Family are always being blamed for “damaging the institution”. Since I don’t believe in the institution of monarchy, it seems to me that these supposed interlopers are doing nothing more than (usually accidentally) exposing the inherent cruelties of the system. Caroline just wants to have fun. That’s all she really wants. Fun. Wants. Wants to have fun. Wants. That’s all she really wants. When the regal day is done…

I have thoughts about other episodes in this series:

Episode One:

Episode Two:

Episode Three:

White House Plumbers, Episode One, Pondered.

This series pretty much writes itself. The amount of data and dialogue freely available to construct this drama is absolutely gargantuan. The result, necessarily, offends certain Aristotelian standards of probability. The phrase “you couldn’t make it up” could have been invented for this series. The motto of this show is “This may seem ludicrous, but I’m afraid it really happened.”

The most ludicrous aspect of the drama is the persistent nagging question asked by the viewer “How could the security of the world’s most powerful nation on earth ever have been sub-contracted to this pair of klutzes?”

For this show is a double act – the Hunt and Liddy show. Of the two, Liddy is the most obviously bizarre, and so Justin Theroux if anything softens and underplays the character – makes him quieter and less frenetic. Woody Harrelson on the other hand, cartoonifies Hunt so as to meet Liddy half-way.

The best scene in this first episode is the dinner party hosted by the Liddys for the Hunts. The children are disturbingly well groomed and polite and arranged on the staircase like the Von Trapp family. Or at least they would be like the Von Trapp family if Captain Von Trapp were eagerly petitioning the Nazi government to join the German navy even before the Anschluss while forcing his eldest daughter into a arranged marriage with Rolf so as to purify the Von Trapp bloodline.

Before dinner, Gordon Liddy puts on an album of Hitler’s speeches and plays it at full blast. (Where are such albums available in the early 1970s?) The house gets egged and Liddy has to jump out of an upstairs window to deal with the miscreants. I have to say that if Liddy is playing the speeches of Adolf Hitler at full blast on a regular basis, then egging the house is a remarkably restrained reaction on the part of the immediate neighbourhood.

We are confronted with a Liddy who simultaneous asserts his recognition of the evil of the Nazi regime while enthusiastically embracing every single scrap of paraphernalia associated with the aesthetics of the Third Reich. Attention shifts to the wives. Lena Headey has that look of exhausted scepticism on her face that she manages so well. Nobody manages to communicate that sense of being barely able to tolerate whoever is in the room with her better than she. Like Mrs Liddy, she once enjoyed a real career but has succumbed to an ideology that restricts her to the role of home-maker. She is more intelligent than her husband. But most people are. Because I know what’s going to happen to her, I wonder how the buffoonish quality of the drama is going to accommodate her fate. This must be Woody Harrelson’s greatest challenge.

Judy Greer is a delight as Mrs Liddy. Her excessive cheerfulness may be the marker of complete indoctrination or she may be trying to signal-blink a desperate plea to a potential rescuer.

Gary Cole is a delightfully dry Mark Felt. Of course, part of the delight of seeing Mark Felt represented on the screen is this deliciously smug sense of power you feel relative to the characters on the screen. “We know something you don’t!”

The writing has been generated from various sources. Bud Krogh, briefly boss to Hunt and Liddy, was one of the more penitent of those subsequently convicted and he’s a major sources for this episode. Much has also been lifted from Liddy’s own extraordinary autobiography Will: or, How to read Friedrich Nietzsche without due Care and Attention.

The reason why we love Watergate is that we’re nostalgic for an age when secrets were explosive. Nowadays we permit ourselves to be governed by cynical self-serving blobs who lie all the time and despise their own electorates too much to even bother to be consistent in their lying. But back in the early seventies there was still this wonderful belief that skeletons needed to be hidden in closets rather than paraded in front windows. There was still a sense that “the truth” has explosive consequences if it is ever dragged into the light. There was still a sense that politicians feared being exposed to “the truth”.

Now “truthiness” (flattering of prejudice) has replaced “truth” (inconvenient reality) and this golden age of Watergate ain’t coming back any time soon.

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated OTD in 1922.


Yes, that strange temple with its Zeusian statue was dedicated OTD in 1922. President Harding was there of course, as was Lincoln’s only surviving child – Robert Todd Lincoln. Robert Todd had seen three brothers die before reaching adulthood, his father murdered (you may remember) and his mother committed to an asylum – overwhelmed by successive waves of incomparable grief. His own public career was distinguished enough but it was a life of long shadows.

It’s a great place of pilgrimage to this day of course, the Abe temple. Oliver Stone uses it memorably for a scene where Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) tries desperately and ludicrously to find common ground with young anti-Vietnam protestors. It’s the sort of occasion that strains credibility even though everyone agrees that it really happened. Aristotle would not have approved it.

I visited it in the spring of 2022. I was on my way home from…

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“I am a cog.” The ending of Succession, pondered.

There was something profoundly necessary about being reminded, at the eleventh hour, that Kendall actually killed someone. There’s a cherishable and beloved human who is not walking the earth because of Kendall. Kendall got away with it at the time because, as Tale of Two Cities made clear long long ago, consequence-free vehicular homicide is the supreme marker of aristocratic entitlement. As Shiv suddenly throws the manslaughter charge at Kendall, Kendall squirms and denies…

As Kendall looks out at the ocean (Kendall has a strange affinity with water, as though he regards the primordial migration from aquatic to amphibious life as some sort of hideous mistake that it’s his duty to reverse) from Battery Park we are finally left with the prospect the he might finally be serving some sort of sentence. Because, he did actually kill someone. Death by water.

Of course, he will walk the streets freely and still be a billionaire – but he will serve a kind of sentence within the prison house of his dismally limited imagination. “I am a cog” he exclaims at his moment of crisis. He is, apparently, CEO of WayStar or he is nothing. So he is nothing.

He was, predictably, on a raft when his siblings swam out to crown him, heads bobbing and grinning up at him like demented mermaids. They make some grisly goo of a smoothie out of fridge left overs, force him to drink some of it and pour the rest over his head.

This episode, long as it is, has little time for Connor. There’s a sense in which the three active Roys are now all Connor. Being Connor is, in a sense, the punishment. But this show wants to punish Connor as well, and Shiv reminds Connor and Willa that legal rulings in Wisconsin may deprive Mencken of the presidency and Connor of his Slovenian ambassadorship – thereby forcing Connor and Willa to forego their romanticised long-distance relationship in favour of a real marriage – a prospect that causes Willa to whiten.

Shiv’s decision to go with Tom is a decision to stay close to power no matter what. Tom’s own power of decisive action is of course very limited. Matsson has been very clear with Tom that Tom’s appointment is based on the fact that Tom is not an ideas man. Tom will play the role of CEO and be photographed as CEO and Tom is not alone in wanting nothing more from office than that. Tom will get a great deal of money and some of that money will fall down (or up?) to Gregg. Tom cannot live without Gregg – this much is clear.

However, as the couple sit together in the limo, and he extends his hand so that Shiv must join hers to his, you see what Shiv has done to herself. Their marriage will remain abusive but she no longer has the initiative or hold the whip hand. No more play fighting. Tom was married to her because he wanted a relationship with her father. She will remain married to Tom because it’s the closest relationship she can retain with her father’s company. As someone who re-reads Mansfield Park on a regular basis, Shiv’s ending reminded me of Maria ending up house-sharing with Mrs Norris. A Dantean punishment. It’s like the furry bits have fallen off the handcuffs.

As Roman’s wounded face stares across the bar we get a sense of someone who is closer to a full acknowledgement of his own worthlessness. “We’re all bullshit” he declares. Of the three siblings, Roman is now closest to the authentic self-knowledge the precedes redemption. But he’s still a long long long way from redemption.

I had to look up the name of the person Kendall kills, because I’d forgotten. Shame on me. His name was Andrew Dodds and he had family who loved him, who loved him with a love of which the Roys are incapable? Why do we grieve the fact that billionaires like the Roys experience professional disappointment and we forget the name of Andrew Dodds? Well, it’s an eighteenth-century commonplace that “there is no|thing so moving as a great Man in Distress…” We associate tragedy with falling from a great height – from the throne to the gutter, not the kerb to the gutter. But whereas tragic heroes in a classical tradition ended up being stabbed in a prison cell or stabbing themselves to avoid the prison cell, the Roys walk free as billionaires.

The tragedy of the Roys is a tragedy that is almost unique to the Roys. These Roys have not a creative instinct in their bodies. They cannot build things. They cannot imagine things. They cannot conceive of something that humanity might need or enjoy and help to realise it. They cannot get behind a charitable enterprise. All they know is mergers and acquisitions – the carving up of stuff that already exists within a zero sum game.

Give anyone you know a Roy level of starting capital and they’d do something with it. I mean, they might try something crazy. They might try to build an opera house somewhere in the Andes. They might try to build a fusion reactor in their back garden. But something where once there was nothing would be attempted. That’s because nearly everybody is creative. But not the Roys.

The USA may have a fascist president thanks in no small part to the fact that entitled Roys cannot create anything and see the world as a zero-sum game. Andrew Dodds is dead because of Roy entitlement. Countless other lives have been reduced, truncated, impoverished because Roys and people like the Roys are unchecked.

The victims of the Roys are all warmer, more imaginative, more generous, and capable of far more than any Roy. The tragedy of Succession is that Roys were permitted to wreak havoc for so long and in what we might call the “real world” continue to do so.

Shame on us for letting them.

Shame on us all.

The Bride from Brunswick. Prince Regent, Episode 3, considered.

It’s just a few years since the regency crisis, and Prince George has really let himself go in the meantime. He’s put on a huge amount of weight and he looks terrible. Just being vertical looks like an intolerable strain for him. Nonetheless, he needs to get married. Arranging a diplomatic marriage during the turbulent 1790s is difficult, but not impossible.

Because George’s debts cannot be settled without a parliamentary vote, and he won’t win that vote unless or until he marries a protestant princess. And there aren’t many protestant princesses available.

The hero of this episode is Harris, Earl of Malmesbury (Julian Curry). He it is who travels to Brunswick to arrange the match. Thing is, vulgar creature that I am, I rather like Princess Caroline (Dinah Stabb). She lacks the ethereal mystique of Susannah York’s Maria Fitzherbert, but she also seems a lot more fun to be with. Of course, being the wrong kind of fun to be with is a hefty percentage of the ensuing problem. Dinah Stabb’s Caroline is someone who enjoys the uninhibited friendship of men – her flirtatiousness merely the extension of a certain kind of directness and instinctive good nature.

For sure she’s loud. For sure, her personal hygiene does not satisfy the most exacting standards. And it must be conceded that when she curtseys she looks as though she’s trying to lay an egg. But Prince George is not exactly love’s young dream either.

Dramatically, the highlights of this episode involve the conversations between Harris and Caroline, both in Brunswick and on the slow journey to England. While Harris tries politely to explain to her the behaviour modifications that will imminently be necessary, you sense a bond develop between them. Harris is acting under instruction from the King, not the Prince, and there is nothing he can do to avert the absolute disaster this union cannot help but be. He is a diplomat, not a politician. He implements policy, he does not make it. The friendship of Harris and Caroline is enforced, brief, and as doomed as the marriage that defines it.

It’s been calculated that the window of opportunity for Princess Caroline to have conceived Prince George’s daughter Princess Charlotte may well have consisted solely of their unromantic wedding night. No matter how drunk the actual prince was, he must have been slightly more rigid than Peter Egan at the farcical close of this episode.

I have thoughts about other episodes in this series.

Episode One:

Episode Two:

“Put not your Trust in Princes” OR – “The Madness of King George III” meets “Blackadder III”. Episode 2 of “Prince Regent” (1979) reviewed.

Frances Burney is a character in this one! Hooray! Wholly logical of course, since her diaries provide some of our best sources for the descent of George III into insanity.

Sarah Siddons also appears. Prince George tries to hit on her and gets nowhere. This is also historically accurate. In fact, rebuffed by her icy hauteur, George is meant to have remarked that one might as well try to make love to the Archbishop of Canterbury – a great line which for some reason is not used.

There are scenes in this episode and even dialogue which appear pretty much intact in Alan Bennett’s play. A major difference is that there is no sympathetic Ian Holm to play Dr Willis. The Willis firm (father and son) are altogether sinister. The delightful Frances White (currently the voice of Granny Pig in the Peppa franchise) is in the impossible position of feeling she has to authorise the harshest of regimes for her husband, given that nothing else has worked.

Prince George attempts to live a simple life – which is hilarious. The sheer fuss and palaver associated with the simple task of getting into a rowing boat with Maria Fitzherbert is a surreal sight to behold. The most extreme retrenchment of expenses in pre-Pavilion Brighton still, of course, leaves him in a condition of luxurious indolence that less than one percent of Europe’s population could ever hope to aspire to.

David Collings was a remarkable actor. He played “Silver” in Sapphire and Steel and he was always showing up in stuff like Doctor Who and Blake’s Seven. He was also the voice of Monkey! in versions of that extraordinary programme intended for Anglophone audiences. But dare I say it though – he looks rather too old to play the alarmingly young Mr Pitt?

The double act of Clive Merrison and Keith Barron as Sheridan and Fox is really finding its stride here. Keith Barron looks disheveled and hungover in every scene in which he appears (in line with Fox’s appearance in contemporary cartoons), but never so worse for wear that he’s incapable of thinking on his unsteady feet.

Susannah York remains astonishing. She is a Gainsborough in motion. There is a warmth and a sense of moral purpose to her that is seductive in the extreme. The Prince waxes lyrical in Maria’s praises. He does so while in bed with Lady Jersey, but there is something about the sheer naivety of his habitual sense of entitlement that his speech does not even seem situationally hypocritical.

I am more and more convinced that the relationship between Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder and Hugh Laurie’s Prince Regent was based on the ludicrous yet logical extrapolation of the relationship between David Horovitch’s Colonel Lake and Peter Egan’s Prince Regent. Even their respective costumes are a match. (Incidentally, the look of Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder II was based on Michael Kitchen’s appearance as Edmund in Jonathan Miller’s BBC adaptation of King Lear.) In a strange way, Prince Regent is a slower version of Blackadder III. Its drama is slower, more careful, and remarkably accurate from a historical point of view but the logic of the comedy is essentially the same.

So this episode from a series lost to the collective memory is a decisive influence on works which will live forever in the collective memory.

Thoughts on other episodes…

Episode One: