‘I can’t believe I said that thing about the sweat’: Prince Andrew has never been so entertaining

Television: Prince Andrew – The Musical lands like Spitting Image soundtracked by Gilbert and Sullivan

How do you lampoon an institution as ludicrous as the British royal family? That is the challenge taken up by the comedian and satirist Kieran Hodgson as part of Channel 4’s “40 years of pushing boundaries” anniversary season.

Boundaries are certainly pushed in Prince Andrew: The Musical (Thursday, 9pm), which surfs on whoopee-cushion energy and lands like Spitting Image soundtracked by Gilbert and Sullivan.

It takes as its starting point Andrew’s extraordinary Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis (played by Emma Sidi), in 2019, in which he defended his friendship with the sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as a matter of personal “honour” and explained that, owing to his bravery in the Falklands War, he had lost the ability to sweat.

“I nailed it!” Hodgson’s Andrew hoots as he pirouettes around the palace. “I did everything right / I’ve saved my royal reputation / and everything is bright.”


But at this moment of triumph Andrew experiences a sting of self-doubt. “I can’t believe I said that thing about the sweat…” Then a shrug. “You’d rather have a prince who’s dry / than one who’s soaking wet.”

The vibe is more St Stephen’s Day panto than Stephen Sondheim, but the sheer gusto with which Hodgson (who wrote all the songs) skewers the Windsors gives the hour-long musical a hooting momentum.

With that disastrous BBC interview as the framing device, Hodgson pings back to the 1980s and Andrew’s glory days as a debauched toff floating high from his time in the Falklands (“I fought the Argies single-handed, give or take a fleet / without my chopper and my joystick / we’d have faced defeat).

The drag queen Baga Chipz turns up as Margaret Thatcher and, later, Harry Enfield appears as a crooning Tony Blair.

The romance between Andrew and Sarah Ferguson is wryly revisited in the showstopper My Profiterole, prompted by the anecdote that Andrew and Sarah (Jenny Bede) bonded over a cutting-edge dessert (although when Hodgson says Sarah – “Say-rah beware” – it sounds more like he’s channelling David Bowie in Labyrinth).

The crimes of which Andrew’s late associate Jeffrey Epstein is accused are serious; already convicted, in 2008, of procuring a child for prostitution, he died in a New York jail, in 2019, after being arrested on charges of trafficking children for sex. Hodgson steers clear of this story’s heart of darkness and instead takes aim at the edifice of royalty. “You’ll always need an Andrew / Every heir needs a ne’er-do-well,” he sings at the end, as Andrew confronts a horrified Charles (Munya Chawawa).

This is blunderbuss satire delivered with a wink and a grin – and for all the wild shots it scores its share of bullseyes.