Diana: In Her Own Words comes close to the 20th anniversary of her death, on 31st August 1997. It not only tells her story in her words, but also in the words of others and portrays the warm and caring individual that she was.
It features footage which is new to the UK, but which has been seen on a documentary elsewhere in Europe, in around 2006.
Beginning with a potted history of the Royal Family’s early years, the near-two-hour programme canters through the years at a fair pace, then zooming to 1981, where things really began in the public eye, with her engagement to Prince Charles, the Royal Wedding and being trapped in a loveless marriage, given how Camilla there from the start. There’s also the interview where both she and hubby were asked if they were in love. She was, despite only having met him 13 times before the wedding, while he replied “Whatever ‘in love’ means”, which really shocked her at the time.
It takes in Diana’s depression, her bulimia, she talks – early on – about not feeling safe getting in a car, plus her protection agent died in a road accident, quite some time before hers. It’s quite chilling at times, given what we know now, not least with the addition of clips from her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, where she said “Who knows what fate will produce. Who knows what circumstances will provoke”. Her comments often come, understandably, in a derisory fashion towards the monarcy.
Her time as a princess was clearly quite a lonely one and left her feeling vulnerable, and desperate for praise, as she’d often go to charity dos, then return home and be ignored, with no-one asking her how her day went.
Together with the sombre soundtrack, this constructs a well-put-together narrative, but it does paint a tale as if she is Sleeping Beauty, and everyone else is the wicked stepmother. In addition, there are some brief dialogue-free sections just to show her giving a look of disapproval. They feel like they’re taken out of context and, as such, briefly reminded me of Homer Simpson's Rock Bottom interview , from the season 6 Homer Badman episode. (I watch far too much Simpsons!)
Oh, and there’s also 1992’s insurance job on Windsor Castle… I mean, accidental fire, which the Queen referred to as her “Annus horribilus”… causing many a chuckle for everyone else.
Since the majority of the press are complete and utter tabloid clickbait rubbish, many of the publications have printed full details about this programme between their pages. I’ll list some highlights, but for me, when I review a TV programme, if I was to do the same as them, it’d be like me saying, “Here, I’m going to type out the entire plot so you don’t have to watch it”, which then negates the construction of the documentary in the first place….
…and with no documentary, we have no review. But that’s why DVDfever is better than standard journalism.
There were calls for Channel 4 NOT to show this programme, but I think they’re right to show it as I’m not a fan of the monarchy.
In addition, this documentary is presented in an odd 2.20:1 widescreen ratio, a little wider than the 2.00:1 which seems to becoming the norm in dramas such as, The Handmaid’s Tale, Broadchurch and Guerrilla. 2.20:1 seems rather too wide when the original footage in most cases would be 4:3.
Diana: In Her Own Words airs on Channel 4 on Sunday night at 8pm, and then later on All4. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, though.
Director: Kevin Sim
Producer: Charles Furneaux
Writer: Kevin Sim
Composer: Samuel Sim
Narrator: Iain Glen
Voice of Diana: Heather Long
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.