It was more of a washout, but the after-party was a blast, remembers guest host, TV star Su Pollard.
In 1987, 23-year-old Prince Edward was running a TV production company and wanted to stage an event to drum up global interest and benefit charities. His idea: It’s a Royal Knockout, a regal version of the popular TV game show, where costumed contestants battled it out in silly obstacle races. Teams of celebrities, including John Travolta and Meat Loaf, were led by himself, Princess Anne, the Duke of York and his then wife the Duchess of York, each supporting a different charity. I was asked to be a commentator – it was huge.
On the day, the grounds of Alton Towers, where the special was filmed, were muddier than Glastonbury. Due to inclement weather affecting the electrics, I ended up waiting in a Winnebago with lovely Barbara Windsor (playing a herald) and dear Les Dawson, another host. The rain meant that the three of us looked like Worzel Gummidge, but the make-up people made us appear fabulous, and we sat at a huge banqueting table to watch the jousting. It was so cold it was hard to stay enthusiastic, but we had to keep smiling as the cameras kept cutting to our faces. Then a very fed-up Les pulled a bottle of whisky from his doublet. It was most welcome.
When the filming finally ended we headed to the after-party and started to thaw out with food and wine. Suddenly, a flurry of bread rolls hit our table – the Royals, who were standing up and laughing, had started a food fight. All the tables joined in and it felt like the gunfight at the OK Corral. My costume was covered in jam and cream.
After the programme aired, the press had a field day: how dreadful that the younger Royals could conduct themselves in such an undignified manner.
Looking back, it was actually fabulous to be part of an event that is likely never to happen again. And Prince Edward succeeded in getting worldwide attention for his ‘little bit of fun’.
Also the month…
- Timothy Dalton made his debut as James Bond in The Living Daylights.
- Margaret Thatcher became the first prime minister for more than 150 years to win a third consecutive term in office.
- Defending champion Boris Becker crashed out in the second round of Wimbledon to the Australian 500-1 outsider Peter Doohan.
- Iconic dancer Fred Astaire died aged 88.