Today’s Mail On Sunday is incandescent with manufactured rage as readers are told “'Is Charles really your dad?' BBC is accused of inflicting 'deliberate pain' with 'salacious' paternity slur against Prince Harry in controversial TV show”. Ah, that use of quote marks because the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker can’t stand up their claims. So what is the hated Beeb accused of doing this time?
“The outrageous and discredited insinuation that Princess Diana’s lover James Hewitt is [Prince Harry’s] father is repeated in the controversial BBC2 drama King Charles III, to be screened this week … The timing is especially cruel so close to the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, and those close to the Royal Family say the hurtful claims should never have been included in a BBC programme”. A line in a fictional drama.
Royal hangers-on have chipped in as required, Rosa Monckton claiming “The BBC is deliberately causing pain to a real living person in a salacious fashion”, and Penny Junor adding “It is irresponsible of the BBC to broadcast this claim”. MoS readers are then informed “The new revelation adds to a growing furore over King Charles III, which will be shown on Wednesday”. That means there will be more attacks on the Beeb.
And as the next ones will be overseen directly by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail, they will be infinitely more hateful and vicious. So what’s all this about? After reassuring readers that “Former cavalry officer Hewitt has point-blank rejected the rumours” - Mandy Rice Davies situation there - we read that the TV drama King Charles III is “An adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s West End play”.
At which point the thought inevitably enters: the Mail takes a keen interest in West End plays, usually via the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not). So what did Quent and the Mail say when King Charles III opened back in 2014? And what didn’t they say?
Ah well. All that Letts manages in his review on the scene which is so upsetting the MoS today is “a sub-plot about Prince Harry bedding a grungy republican girl”. Otherwise, Quent covered the usual Mail public sector bashing bases, telling readers “the Arts Council-funded Almeida is stepping on pretty untrodden territory”. Worse for the Mail titles, Letts was not the only one covering King Charles III at the time.
Mail Online also ran a PA story telling how King Charles III was garnering rave reviews.
But what neither that story, nor Letts’ review, even mentioned was the line about Harry being quizzed as to who his father was. So unless the BBC adaptation has inserted something which wasn’t in the original play - doubtful - the Mail is once again dealing in double standards, only putting the boot in and coming the faux outrage in order to kick the hated Beeb. And the attack will have the reverse of the intended effect.
The programme - which will by now be long complete - will just get a bigger audience. But the Northcliffe House goons will have a nice warm feeling, so that’s all right, then.