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Channel 5 head to Buckingham Palace with Alexander Armstrong

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Channel 5 head to Buckingham Palace with Alexander Armstrong

Best on the Box choice for July 29th…

Greed. Madness. Love. Tragedy…

Over the centuries, Buckingham Palace has witnessed it all. Now, Alexander Armstrong reveals the surprising stories hidden behind the walls of Britain’s most iconic royal residence.

With the help of JJ Chalmers and Raksha Dave, Channel 5 uncover the scandals of the exclusive balls thrown by its first royal owners, King George III and Queen Charlotte – and reveal how a party-loving prince almost caused the palace to be razed to the ground.

The programme discovers the dirty secrets of Queen Victoria’s rat-infested living quarters – and hears how heartbreak drove her to abandon the palace. Alexander Armstrong takes cover from the Nazi bombs and relives the moment the palace came within 60 seconds of total destruction and he’ll discover exactly how the original royal residents went to the loo.

Throughout, an ever-changing CGI floorplan shows how the iconic building has been transformed across the centuries as a long line of monarchs have each made their mark.

The opening episode transports us back to the late 18th Century when the building first came into royal hands. Alexander Armstrong discovers that, originally, it wasn’t a palace at all – but a private country house built by a man called the Duke of Buckingham. With red brick walls and a mere 40 rooms, “Buckingham House”, as it was known, looked nothing like the imposing palace we see today.

But in 1761 the modest country pile caught the eye of King George III and his new bride, Queen Charlotte. The royal lovebirds purchased it as a rural retreat where they could raise a family and throw raucous parties. Raksha Dave gets glammed up, Georgian-style, to find out about the gossip and scandal that dominated the first balls thrown at Buckingham House – meanwhile, JJ Chalmers hits the dancefloor to trial some fancy footwork to impress the queen.

Soon, King George and Queen Charlotte started making their mark on their new home. Alexander reveals how the Palace’s gardens became home to the first zebra to ever set hoof in England – as well as an impressive underground ice house, the fridge-freezer of its day. But the building still lacked some facilities we consider essential today… toilets. Raksha discovers how one of the most prestigious jobs at Buckingham House involved carrying the king’s portaloo – a role rewarded with a princely salary of £240,000, in today’s money.

Later in the episode, JJ whips up some surprisingly appetizing Parmesan Ice Cream beloved by Buckingham House’s first royal residents, and Raksha sniffs out the stinky yet sustainable solution to emptying the palace’s cesspit.

Throughout, a CGI floorplan shows how the royal couple utterly transformed the house with massive extensions. But trouble was on the horizon. Soon madness and greed would drag the palace to the brink of destruction…

Buckingham Palace with Alexander Armstrong, Channel 5, tonight at 9.15pm

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