Kingdom (ITV1, 2007-2009)
As regular readers should know by now, I am not a big fan of the drama genre, and I’ve never had much interest in those shown on a Sunday evening that were designed to not be hugely taxing and send people off to bed with a warm fuzz. But I could be attracted to watching if some decent comic actors appear in them. That’s how I got into Doc Martin with Martin Clunes (that I reviewed recently), and this one featured Stephen Fry.
The TVGoHome book that featured parodies of TV listings included one where a detective solves the crime within the first ten minutes, and then drives around the pleasant landscape in his fancy car for the rest of the show, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of this a little when watching Kingdom, where it could be classed that the scenery was the star of the show.
Fry was mostly attracted to appear in this one because it was set in the small town of Market Shipborough in Norfolk, and it could be said that his interacting with the locals took second place to the picturesque backgrounds that gave the show an easy-going feel, and it’s no surprise that the combination of all this meant that Kingdom did rather well in the ratings.
Fry didn’t play a detective though, he starred as Peter Kingdom, a solicitor who is keen to help people out and champion their side. Most of the trouble that Peter runs into is from his dysfunctional family, including his half-brother Simon who was disappeared, his half-sister Beatrice, and his aunt. Among his staff are his young trainee colleague Lyle, and his faithful receptionist Gloria. Peter also spends some time down the local pub, The Startled Duck, pondering his next move.
Unsurprisingly, lots of famous faces were eager to take part, and guest appearances included Richard Wilson, Jack Dee, and Fry’s old mate Tony Slattery. There were 18 episodes of Kingdom in three series. Maybe it’s not the most thrilling thing that Fry has done in his career, but it’s always enjoyable seeing him doing his thing, and the sound of his lovely voice is like treacle being poured into my ears, as I’m sure he’d agree.
I also remember that there was a rather unsympathetic parody of the show in Harry And Paul, it seems that there’s no love lost there. I noticed as well that among the writers was Jeff Povey who also contributed to CITV’s Samson Superslug. All of the episodes have been released on DVD, and extras include a look behind the scenes, and a photo gallery, and there has also been a repeat run on ITV3.