On Tuesday, Danny Dyer picked up a National Television Award for Best Serial Drama Performance, making an emotional, heartfelt speech.
“I just want to say to all you young kids living in poverty, who don’t think they have a right to hope or dream or believe, do not let where you’ve come from define where you’re going in life. You can be whoever you want to be,” said the EastEnders star, before dedicating his award to his old mentor, Harold Pinter.
As if to prove his own point, Dyer is back in primetime tonight presenting the first of his two-part history show, Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family.
— BBC One (@BBCOne) January 9, 2019
Fans of The Big Issue will know he talked to us at length last year – about everything from Brexit to breakfast, cuts to youth centres and the expanded use of foodbanks to his daughter’s Love Island triumph, David Cameron to Harold Pinter to Lady Gaga. Well, King Danny also gave us the rundown on his hew series.
Here’s what the man we dubbed Britain’s Voice Of Reason had to say about Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family…
So, Danny, you are branching out into documentary presenting?
I have got a history show coming out. And some of the comments coming out about the BBC dumbing down because they are using someone with a working-class accent? Your fucking David Starkeys of this world. I think people are a little bit fucking bored of some posh fucker standing there spouting out what happened in history. Why don’t you go on a journey with me, the everyman, somebody who people can associate themselves with and learn a little bit about our British history.
If they don’t like you doing a show about the royal family, how did they take the news that you have a direct bloodline to the royal family – as discovered on Who Do You Think You Are?
Some people are still fucked off that I am related to royalty. They don’t like it. But they are my ancestors. I have just done another two hours on it – and it is still a revelation to me. The paperwork is there, there is a direct bloodline to King Edward III and William the Conqueror. And that is the truth. For some people, it just fucking leaves a lump in their throat. Some of the comments that have been made. There has been a lot of love as well, but some of the comments by so-called professors, they just cannot bear it. How dare I be related to these people?
I think a lot of people would vote you in, if they could…
Well I am about 110,000 in line to the throne. Something like that. I did meet a royalist sort of fella. He was explaining to me I would be in line. A long way down, but if they were struggling to find a king I’m your fucking man!
When you are looking in terms of your presentation style – did you take any inspiration from Professor Brian Cox, Stacey Dooley or anyone else?
Well, I’m Danny Dyer and I have always been Danny Dyer. Sometimes that has worked in my favour and sometimes it has worked against me. But the thing about this show is that they are my ancestors. So already there is a connection there. I’m not spouting about a certain king of medieval times or about my favourite king like other presenters. Me? I’m related to them.
And everybody else seems to know an awful lot about my family and I don’t know. I kept referring to them as my family as well, just to wind people up. I suppose what we are doing is that we are learning about them with me. And of course, I dress up as them for the day, I eat their food and try to live their life a little bit. Because at the beginning I have a bit of a rant on, how I want to breathe it, smell it, taste it.
What did that entail, how did you get into their shoes?
With William the Conqueror, I went hunting on a horse with a longbow. And with Rollo the Viking, who is my first ancestor, I went and navigated a longboat, I lived on a Viking village in Sweden and ate fermented shark. Fucking horrible!
And Henry II, they hired the whole of Dover Castle. I went in and there were some actors there treating me like the king. They put a crown on my head, put the clobber on me and they played along with me. It was fucking great. I didn’t know what was going on. I walked in as me, they all go down on one knee, your highness. And then I started to get into it a little bit. “Would you like the king’s robes?” Yeah, go on then. They dress me, put the crown on my head, and tell me about how they soak the clothes in human piss to clean them. I had a bit of improv about that.
I had fun with it. He is quite a good king Henry II. All his sons turned on him because he was a very young king, had his kids really young and they wanted the throne. But what he didn’t do, which is what other kings did, was kill them or imprison them – he allowed them to be prats. His Queen hated him. So again, he didn’t imprison her or behead her or anything like that – he allowed her to be a woman and have the hump. And you know, he had a good reign.
Who else did you find out about?
The one I found the most touching would have been King Henry III. He was a gay king. A gay medieval king who was caught with his lover. And so he was dethroned, which is why King Edward III – it was really sad. I went into his cell in Berkeley Castle, where they put him and dethroned him. They threw him in there and put corpses underneath him.
They wanted him to die naturally and he didn’t, so they ran in there and stuck a hot poker up his arse and burnt his entrails. And then his son King Edward III got the throne and killed the fuckers who did that to his dad. I just thought, what a brave man. I suppose I took some comfort in the fact that he actually did find true love with another man. He didn’t stand a chance. I mean, fuck me, trying to be gay in the 1960s, let alone in the 1270s, can you imagine? There was no LGBT community knocking about then. So that was quite touching that one, to learn about. I was quite proud that at least he went there.
What would you do first day in the job as King Danny?
King Danny? What would he do? I would tell everyone to calm the fuck down. We need to start showing each other a little bit of love. That is what is important. We are a very polarised nation. We need to come together and try to help others. I really do believe that. We need to come together as a world. I just don’t believe there should be any human being on this fucking planet who can’t afford water or to eat.
Some people are getting richer and fucking richer while others get poorer and poorer. That divide? I don’t know how you help that as king, to be honest. I would put some people running the country that give a fuck about it, not just themselves. The politicians have all been exposed as inadequate people that talk shit constantly.
That is why a generation of young people is completely lost. There is no connection. They see them in their suits, and Theresa May, bless her, just got that job by default. Boris Johnson running around with his stupid haircut spouting bollocks. Young people look and think, if these are the people running the country, why shouldn’t I go and loot and riot? They just don’t give a fuck. This us against them-type vibe has got worse. We are living in an age of foodbanks. How the fuck did that happen? Seriously.
Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family starts on Wednesday 23 January at 9pm on BBC1, and on iPlayer
Image: BBC/Wall To Wall Media