Danny Dyer’s National Television Award’s speech was dedicated to Harold Pinter, his unlikely theater mentor ,with typical passion and flair. “He believed in me when no-one else did. I’m getting all fucking emotional, I don’t now what’s the matter with me, for fuck’s sake,” he said. Underneath that geezer posturing he’s built a career on, he’s got a serious but uplifting message; “To all you young kids living out there in poverty, who don’t think they have a right to hope or dream or believe, do not let where you’ve come from define where you’re going in life. You can be whoever you want to be.” Sure Danny has got the swagger in spades, but what he’s got to say is worth listening to. And despite his humble upbringing he’s got quite a story to tell.
Last week we saw the first episode of his Right Royal Family a spin-off documentary series thanks to his outstanding turn on Who Do You Think You Are in 2018. His reaction to finding out his unbroken ancestral line leads back to royalty was a TV highlight of the year. This two-parter sees him expand on that royal pedigree and pick out the most interesting royals from his lineage in what he promises to be a right nutty royal caper.
We get an hour of him dressing up and meeting the experts and immediately he’s Keen as mustard to get stuck in. Bright eyed and bushy tailed his battle cry is “Get involved!” and “Let’s ‘ave it!”That happy smile slips slightly as he eats fermented shark in Sweden, thanks to the founder of the dynasty Rollo the Viking. He’s up for anything but wants to avoid “spewing me ring up”. Fair enough. It’s delightful how at ease he is with the academics, on first name terms with them from the off. He’s not going to sit through some dusty history lecture, he’s off to meet some “fella called Mark” and have a chat about his family.
His style and enthusiasm is infectious. I want a 10 part series with just him and his new mate Gordon romping around the woods hunting plastic deer. Learning about William the Conqueror also affords the phrase “chopping some nuts off”, quite unique for a BBC1 history show. That Anglo-Saxon watermelon never stood a chance. Dyer is extremely amiable, completely fascinated with everything he learns, and at ease with everyone he meets – all the skills the current royal family could do with. That lineage is evident when he’s told to sit up proud on his horse; it’s a redundant instruction – he couldn’t look prouder if he was a Insta-famous peacock.
Dyer absolutely excels at dressing up and dicking about, and seems to encourage that joyfulness in others. He’s an absolute natural as imperious Henry II parading about in robes and crown on the battlements of Dover castle. Louis IX of France is a bit more of a stretch – a penitent and pious man, despite the violent punishments dished out to those who weren’t quite religious enough. A monarch who looks down on bad behavior seems an anomaly in Dyer’s family, but he loves the fella anyway, especially his magnificent legacy – the gorgeous Sainte-Chapelle cathedral in Paris. An in Louis he gets another another ancestral curve ball; being related to royalty is all well and good, but how many people can say they’re descended from a saint?
Tom from The Poke liked the episode so much he make screenshots out of his favorite quotes and it’s a crying shame if these don’t take off as memes. Catch up on the first episode on iPlayer now and then episode 2 is broadcast tonight at 9pm on BBC! Get involved!