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New British comedy is ‘Almost Royal’ romp

By David Wiegand
San Francisco Chronicle
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- BURNING BRIGHT PRODUCTIONS
Rich British siblings Georgie (Ed Gamble) and Poppy (Amy Hoggart) tour the U.S. in “Almost Royal,” a new comedy from BBC America.

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    ‘Almost Royal’

    10 p.m. Saturday, BBC America



One of the differences between the United States and Great Britain is that the British seem absolutely shameless about being absolutely silly. Americans can be silly, too, but it’s often a kind of tentative silliness, whereas the Brits dive headfirst into silly at every given opportunity and splash around in it with complete abandon.

“Almost Royal,” premiering with back-to-back episodes Saturday, is a show only BBC America could create. The channel’s first original scripted comedy is about a pair of lesser British nobles on a tour of the United States because their father, who died of an “accidental” self-inflicted shotgun blast to the face, was terribly fond of the States.

Poppy and Georgie Carlton (Amy Hoggart and Ed Gamble) are classic British upper-class twits, dumb as a box of kippers, and have never worked a day in their lives.

They have little to no awareness of the outside world in their own country, much less in the United States. In addition to bringing Daddy’s ashes along for the journey, Georgie is hoping the visits to Los Angeles, Boston, Texas, New York and elsewhere will teach him more about the world and help him to become more manly. Similarly, Poppy has hopes she will find a career as an actress, or perhaps an author, lifestyle guru or cookery presenter, something that befits her station without necessitating actual work.

Georgie and Poppy are, of course, having a laugh, as the British would say, and their parts are semi-scripted. But no one else is in on the joke. The tea party types are left uncharacteristically speechless by their presence, the guys on the baseball team are both bemused and confused about how they are supposed to react to “almost royals” (Poppy and Georgie are said to be 80-something in line for the throne).

In addition to being absurdly funny and addictive, “Almost Royal” smartly satirizes both Americans, for their seemingly endless fascination with British royalty, and the titled British upper class, for their pixilated detachment from the real world.

“Almost Royal” has enough silliness for both American and British tastes.

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