With the amount of costume changes, this show might just be a glorified excuse for Lucy Worsley to play dress up. Within the hour, she takes on Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Albert and Victoria, and a bishop, parading around palaces and teaching us a bit of history too.
Whilst the royal palace doors may be shut to the public, historian Worsley has a key, and like a teenager whose parents have gone away for the weekend, all rules are off and she’s letting us in.
And it does feel a bit like a secret private tour – without the hordes of tourists and staff, she prances through the hallowed halls of Hampton Court, swoons on Kensington Palace’s balconies, and feeds mice to the lonesome ravens at the Tower of London. Of course, all the while dropping nuggets of history and dramatic tales, in a cheerful and entertaining way reminiscent of Horrible Histories.
You can’t deny, she’s got a bit of know-it-all energy about her – a bit like the kid in school who is the teacher’s favourite, good at music, captain of all the sports teams with a sparkling report card. And for some, that might be a bit grating. But regardless, she wears her passion for her subject right on her perfectly puffy sleeve.
The Times’ Ben Dowell asks, “what’s more thrilling and vaguely naughty than an after-hours private tour of extraordinary places?” And he praises Worsley, who he says “knows her brand and is running with it so intensely that there seems to be an element of self-parody about her presenting style.” The Daily Mail’s Christopher Stevens also enjoyed himself, giving the show four stars and questioning if Worsley should “really be trusted with those keys?”