Star Trek Voyager – The Simpsons – Diana Her True Story – tape 2342

First programme on this tape is The Simpsons with the episode 138th Episode Spectacular. A sort-of clip show with lots of new material and loads of in-jokes.

After this, recording continues for a bit, so we get the start of Melrose Place (or something) before it switches.

Then, Star Trek Voyager sees the ship’s Emergency Medical Hologram activate to find the ship totally empty, in Projections. This episode is directed by Commander Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes.

This is one of the better Voyager episodes, possibly because it concentrates on Robert Picardo as the EMH. Things are strange enough, with tricorders not working properly, and his being able to travel to different parts of the ship, rather than just sickbay or the holodeck, then Dwight Schulz turns up as Lieutenant Barclay, to tell him that he’s not a hologram at all – that he’s real and is actually Lewis Zimmerman, the developer of the EMH, and he’s trapped in a holodeck simulation, being irradiated, and he will dies soon – unless he destroys Voyager – in the simulation.

The episode jumps between he is/he isn’t so often that even by the end you’re not sure quite what’s real, but it doesn’t really matter, because Picardo is by far the least annoying member of the crew, so an episode that stars him is always welcome.

Next, recording continues, and we’re treated to the first episode of Diana: Her True Story. The mini-series based on Andrew Morton’s biography of Princess Diana.

The air of unreality is there right from the beginning. We’re introduced to the Royal family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on the Queen’s birthday, and her first words are “It pleases me greatly, Charles, to know that one day, you will be standing here as king.” Charles’ response? “Well I hope that won’t be for a very long time.”

Two of the most unconvincing lines of dialogue you could imagine.

Prince Charles and The Queen

That’s Anne Stallybrass as the Queen, and David Threlfall as Charles.

There’s a very creepy shot while a young Diana (about 7 or 8) is dancing in a ballet dress at home. She dances towards the camera, spins around, and dances away, but the camera is so low it becomes an ‘upskirt’ picture. Perhaps these were more innocent times, but it feels icky.

This plays almost like a Comic Strip parody, but without any jokes. Threlfall plays the part as if he’s doing a bad impression of Mike Yarwood doing a bad impression of Charles. Serena Scott Thomas is pretty enough as Diana, but they can’t even get her hair right. William Franklyn is cast as Lord Mountbatten, but we see him once, in the opening Balcony scene, then the next thing we know, Charles is getting the news that he’s been killed by the IRA. “Those bastards.”

The actress playing Princess Anne is a dead ringer, but Prince Philip is unrecognisable. The dialogue is banal and on the nose. There’s no subtlety here at all.

One bright point is when a car pulls up to Highgrove house, and it looks awfully familiar.

Not Highgrove House

That’s Gaddesden Place, in Hemel Hempstead, where I worked for almost 14 years for a company called Computer Concepts (later Xara Ltd). It was used quite a lot for movie and TV locations, and for the occasional advert, but I’d totally forgotten that this programme had filmed there. I think I was probably a bit sniffy about it, so I didn’t pay it much attention. A movie crew always meant it was hard to park, so it was just annoying to those of us trying to work.

This really is the most lumbering monstrosity of a programme. While on Honeymoon, Diana is cross that Charles is wearing cufflinks given to him by Camilla. Next scene, she’s in the kitchen, scoffing Ice Cream and Cake, as sinister music plays, and the cooks look on in fear. Next scene she’s leaving a bathroom with the sound of a toilet flushing. Why they’re being coy now is a mystery, since an earlier scene had shown her actually puking into a toilet.

The tape ends just after this recording.

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