The Windsors put "on hold" by Channel 4 after King's cancer diagnosis

ExclusiveFriday 19th April 2024, 10:04am by Jay Richardson

The Windsors. Image shows from L to R: Pippa (Morgana Robinson), Meghan Markle (Kathryn Drysdale), Harry (Tom Durant-Pritchard), Kate (Louise Ford), Wills (Hugh Skinner), Charles (Harry Enfield), Camilla (Haydn Gwynne), Andrew (Tim Wallers), Edward (Matthew Cottle), Princess Anne (Vicki Pepperdine), Beatrice (Ellie White), Eugenie (Celeste Dring), Fergie (Katy Wix). Copyright: Noho Film and TV
  • Channel 4 has indefinitely postponed making another series of The Windsors, reportedly over sensitivities about senior Royals' health
  • However, the broadcaster has denied that the hit sitcom has been cancelled
  • The Windsors is one of several comedies to seemingly fall foul of concerns of offending Buckingham Palace and monarchists

Channel 4 has denied that The Windsors has been cancelled, British Comedy Guide can reveal.

The broadcaster announced a fourth series of the hit Royal Family sitcom in April last year, alongside a feature-length special to mark King Charles' coronation, which aired that same month. Private Eye magazine has now reported that the show, which stars Harry Enfield as the monarch, has been discreetly axed, with sensitivities around senior Royals' health mooted as the reason.

A Channel 4 spokesperson told BCG that "production on the new series of The Windsors has been put on hold until further notice" and gave no timetable for its return.

According to Private Eye, the soap opera spoof, which first aired in 2016, was set to continue despite the death in 2020 of George Jeffrie (Spitting Image, Pete Versus Life), who had co-created and written the show with Bert Tyler-Moore (Spitting Image, Psychobitches), and the passing in October of Haydn Gwynne, who played Queen Camilla, with "talk of recasting" her role.

The satirical publication added that another option discussed was for the latest series to focus "on the younger generations, with their majesties 'away on tour'". But "the cancer diagnoses of the King, Princess of Wales and Duchess of York were judged to put the monarchy beyond a joke" and Channel 4's chief content office Ian Katz "quietly cancelled the fourth series".

The sitcom, which has run for 21 episodes, including three specials, co-stars Hugh Skinner as Prince William, Louise Ford as Princess Kate, Richard Goulding as Prince Harry, with Tom Durant-Pritchard taking over the role for series three in 2020, Kathryn Drysdale as Meghan Markle, Morgana Robinson as Pippa Middleton, Ellie White as Princess Beatrice and Celeste Dring as Princess Eugenie.

The Windsors. Image shows from L to R: Charles (Harry Enfield), Camilla (Haydn Gwynne). Copyright: Noho Film and TV
The Windsors. Image shows from L to R: Charles (Harry Enfield), Camilla (Haydn Gwynne). Copyright: Noho Film and TV

It has also regularly featured Matthew Cottle as Prince Edward, Katy Wix as Sarah Ferguson, Tim Wallers as Prince Andrew and Vicki Pepperdine as Princess Anne, but strikingly, has not portrayed the late Queen Elizabeth II or Duke of Edinburgh.

The Windsors was initially directed by Adam Miller (Spitting Image, Witless) and produced by Izzy Mant (GameFace, Trying) for Noho Film And TV (Zomboat!), with Amanda Blue (Newark, Newark, How Europe Stole My Mum) taking over directing duties and Paul Schlesinger (Funny Woman, W1A) producing series three.

A stage spin-off, The Windsors: Endgame, written by Jeffrie and Tyler-Moore and featuring several of the television cast, including Enfield, Cotter, Durant-Pritchard and Wallers, was performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London's West End in the autumn of 2021.

Channel 4 said last year that the fourth series would find Charles as "the sort of hands-on King he always dreamt of being. It starts with him extending the half hour Audience with the PM to an all-afternoon brainstorming session, and quickly escalates to him demanding a place in the cabinet. But is a resurgent monarchy exactly what a politically divided nation wants? Or will he end up going the same way as Charles I?

"Meanwhile Wills' investiture as Prince of Wales is thrown off course when he has a bromance with an ardent Welsh nationalist. Meghan and Harry save the day when New Zealand threaten to pull out of the Commonwealth. And Beatrice and Eugenie travel back in time and by mistake change the order of succession."

Reviews of The Windsors have been generally warm, with the Telegraph praising it as a "right royal romp" and the Guardian hailing its "riotous hilarity", even going so far as to lobby for the characters of Beatrice and Eugenie to be given a spin-off.

Private Eye's Eye TV column also attributes sensitivities around the Royal Family contributing to the long-running The Now Show's recent cancellation from Radio 4, suggesting: "already banned from gags about the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts, the show now couldn't even send up Charles' accent and eccentricities".

Long Night At Blackstone. Greg Hemphill. Copyright: Hopscotch Films
Long Night At Blackstone. Greg Hemphill. Copyright: Hopscotch Films

Similarly, Still Game's Greg Hemphill (above) has just revealed that a Royal sitcom he was developing for US channel HBO was scrapped when the Queen died.

Hemphill, who co-wrote and starred in the long-running BBC Scotland sitcom about rascally pensioners with Ford Kiernan, spent a year writing the new comedy with Fags, Mags And Bags scribe and star Donny McLeary, about a butler based at the Royal Family's Balmoral estate who rented out the historic castle to pay off a gambling debt.

The Queen died at Balmoral in 2022, mere days after they completed the script, Hemphill told a live episode of the Some Laugh podcast, released this week but recorded at the Pavilion Theatre last month as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

"I thought 'this is a fucking good idea' and we sold it to HBO," Hemphill explained to the podcat's hosts, stand-ups Marc Jennings, Stuart McPherson and Stephen Buchanan.

"We spent a year working on this script, sent it to them and then the Queen died.

"Me and my pal Donny were high-fiving thinking we'd be up there with Game Of Thrones. The whole nation went into mourning and I was fucking raging.

"The moral of the story is do not write sitcoms about ailing, beloved 96-year-olds."

The Windsors - Complete Series One To Three

Get ready for a right royal riot with The Windsors, the outrageous and side-splitting satirical comedy series from Channel 4 that imagines the Royal family as you've never seen them before, drawing on real life events and creating hilarious fictional fun.

Featuring an all-star comedy line-up including the inimitable Harry Enfield as Prince Charles, Haydn Gwynne (Drop The Dead Donkey) as Camilla, Hugh Skinner (Fleabag) as William, Louise Ford (Crashing) as Kate, Morgana Robinson (House Of Fools) as Pippa, Richard Goulding and Tom Durant-Pritchard as Harry and Kathryn Drysdale (Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps) as Meghan, with Katy Wix (Agatha Raisin) as Fergie and Miriam Margolyes as the ghost of Queen Victoria.

Join the Windsors in their everyday palace lives, for a family Christmas at Sandringham, to celebrate Harry and Meghan's wedding and go beyond the palace gates again to watch Megxit unfold.

This box set includes all three series of the Channel 4 sitcom, plus both the Christmas and Royal Wedding specials.

First released: Monday 6th April 2020

  • Distributor: Acorn Media
  • Region: 2
  • Discs: 4
  • Minutes: 528
  • Subtitles: English

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