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Queen's bedroom break-in fictionalised

Emma Thompson the Queen
HER MAJESTY: Emma Thompson acts the part of the Queen in Walking the Dogs as if she were called Helen Mirren.

Currently UKTV is running a series of short dramas at 7pm on Sunday evening. Thirty minutes is a very compact length for a drama - only one good idea can be developed, and you certainly can't fill the screen with characters.

Last night's Walking the Dogs was a fictionalised account of the 1982 break-in to the Queen's bedroom by Michael Fagan, a man not out to murder the Queen, but simply despondent about the breakdown of his marriage who was walking past and saw an opening.

It was a lovely little watch working both as a drama and as a story about someone I've known even longer than I've known Ken Barlow. The royal family star in that soap opera The Windsors, currently in a feel-good phase. The divorces and house-fire storylines have been given a rest, as have the was-she-murdered-by-her-father-in-law and is-he-really- his-father's-son subplots.

Now we have middle-aged eccentrics, a fetching couple, handsome young soldiers and a dignified elderly monarch prepared occasionally to show she's human. There she is, jumping out of a helicopter! There she is, a great granny, about to welcome yet another heir! How does she do it? And there she is, coping with a stranger in her bedroom as if it happens all the time.

So Emma Thompson gets her hair done in that style, puts on a demure cotton nightie and acts the part of the Queen as if she were called Helen Mirren. The story follows the same lines as the one presented to us 30 years ago by what must be one of the best-oiled publicity machines in the world, that working for the British royal family. And I for one want to believe this is the truth.

But the mind still boggles. How did someone manage to climb a wall and find the Queen's room? And how can the fact that no-one came when she pressed her panic button be explained by the fact the corgis were being taken for a walk? Ah, as always, truth is stranger than fiction.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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