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I haven't done a podcast review for a while as there haven't been any that I listen to that have been really all that relevant to the theme of this blog (and to be sure, some the history podcasts I've listened to are a little dry and take a bit of persevering with), but this one is is a cracker. Seeing as how I've recently listened to the George III episode I can legitimately include a review here!
The premise of the podcast is to review and rate all monarchs of England from Alfred the Great to Elizabeth II. The format is for the hosts, Graham Duke and Ali Hood, to discuss the the monarch's biography with Graham doing the heavy lifting in terms of research and narration, while Ali indulges in colourful wit and general light relief, interspersed with the occasional erudite comment. It's like pub conversation between two mates about their favourite kings. The fact that one's done the research stuff while the other relies on his general knowledge means that Ali asks Graham the questions, getting clarification on points, or chipping in with interesting facts or legends, while Graham answers and generally clears up fact from fiction by shooting down legends and popping mythical bubbles.
The real fun is the rating system they've devised to score each monarch using 5 separate categories:
Battleyness is my favourite, and the earlier Anglo-Saxon and Medieval kings scored quite highly in this category, personally leading armies into battle. Over the episodes, this criterion gradually morphs to battles fought during their reign by others, as fewer monarchs are involved in military campaigns the closer you get to modern times. Scandal is also another favourite as all the juicy stories of sex, murder and financial slipperiness are exposed. After each monarch is given a score, they are then judged by the presenters on whether or not they have "...that certain something, that lasting legacy, the star quality that we call the Rex Factor." Completely subjective it may be, but both of the presenters justify why they do or don't award the prize, with only Edward the Peaceable causing controversy with the listeners, so far.
After all the monarchs are reviewed, there's going to be a play-off between all the Rex Factor winners to determine the ultimate monarch of England. Voting is under way, so listen to the podcast and vote for your favourite! I was happy that a Hanoverian got the Rex Factor in the person of William IV, but my money's on Charles II for the ultimate prize, especially with his Scandal score, his all-round genial raffish air and his fondness for a witty bon mot, not to mention bringing the kingdom back on an even keel after the chaos of the Civil War and Commonwealth