King Charles III. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Tim Piggott-Smith, Oliver Chris, Richard Goulding, Charlotte Riley, Margot Leicester, Tamara Lawrence, Adam James, Priyanaga Burford, Tim McMullan, Katie Brayben, Nyasha Hatendi, John Shapnel, Parth Thakerar, Ian Redford, Max Bennett, Tom Mothersdale, Rupert Vansittart.

The vast majority of the country has not seen a day like it, the moment a crowned monarch passes on, the moment when pomp and ceremony, of tradition and unpalatable truths are laid out and given a public airing; to have a constitutional monarchy is to expect that nothing would be simple following a death in the family.

For Prince Charles, it is perhaps a harder moment to contemplate, not only does he lose the Queen, he loses his mother too and immediately becomes King, it is a position in life that he has waited and worked for all his life and yet in some quarters the argument always rears its head that he should not, that he is not fit, to be King Charles III.

Whilst Tim Piggott-Smith has recently fallen asleep in the acting green room for the last time, in this, one of his final screen roles before his untimely passing, he is the personification of majestic, a true legend of film and stage, to witness his portrayal as the possible future king, not as a bumbling fool but as a man beset by deep seated thought and conscious and one that could set the seal of a turbulent and troubled reign, is one that could be described as one of the two most inspired and important roles of his screen career.

To watch Mr. Piggott-Smith immerse himself into the role of Prince Charles but with the wonderful sense of Shakespearian dialogue and open verse that is attached to each actor’s performance is almost beyond compare but in recent times it would be not inconsiderable to match it with David Tennant’s performance for the R.S.C. at Stratford as Hamlet.

The verbal communication used in the television film is exquisite; it is a reminder that the English language is so wonderfully versed and accepting, it always comes as some surprise when people suggest they cannot understand it, that it is too complicated to even dare to comprehend it being used in programmes such as this gem of television. In each moment of dialogue or breaking of the fourth wall, which is done with astonishing grace and polish by the superb Charlotte Riley as Kate Windsor, the words flow, they are the true heroes of the piece and each word carries the weight of a loaded grenade and punctures the air around the actor with form and its own sense of character.

With several members of the cast reprising their roles from the stage, it is no wonder that the tension that comes off the screen as Charles goes to war with Parliament is so marvellously framed and explosive. Adam James’ portrayal as the ambitious Prime Minister is perfect and Richard Goulding as the lost in thought Prince Harry is worthy of accolades in much the same way as Tim Piggott-Smith.

Mike Bartlett’s incredible play King Charles III easily transfers to the screen, it has style in abundance, it is as every bit as a classic as William Shakespeare’s Richard III and is volatile and beautifully anarchic as anything likely to be seen this year; a true joy of television.

Ian D. Hall