Have you heard the good word from London? E! Canada is jumping into the scripted TV show game with its very first series, The Royals, and we’re gobsmacked by how salaciously fun and juicy it is. (Although if we’re being completely honest, we were hooked as soon as Elizabeth Hurley was announced as the Queen.)
Without giving too much away, the very best way we can describe the show is that it’s exactly what would happen if Gossip Girl and Downton Abbey met, had a romp on the polo field and popped out a baby. A gossipy, British, barmy baby that we want to check in with week after week.
To help get you ready for Sunday’s big premiere we’ve put together this primer to help get sorted on who’s who, and why you’re gonna be into them.
The Countess of Grantham (Cora Crawley) + Blair Waldorf = Queen Helena
Sure, Blair and Cora aren’t British, but if you take Blair’s ambitious scheming and love of games and couple them with Cora’s sense of worried responsibility, you’ve got this royal highness.
Matthew Crawley + Nate Archibald = Prince Liam
Good looking nice dude? Check. Forced into a position of power that he didn’t necessarily aspire for? Check. Next big crush? Check, check, check.
Lady Edith Crawley + Serena van der Woodsen = Princess Eleanor
Who doesn’t love a bad girl every now and then? Especially one that tends to be selfish without ever realizing she’s hurting those around her? That’s a little bit of what you get with Princess Eleanor, although we guarantee by the end of the episode you’ll feel for her. At least a little bit.
Earl of Grantham (Robert Crawley) + Howie “The Captain” Archibald = King Simon
We like this King, but even as he’s trying his best it’s easy to see that his high expectations of his children have got them a little stressed out. Remind you of anyone? The Captain or Robert, perhaps?
Thomas Barrow + Chuck Bass = Cyrus
We didn’t think we’d have room in our hearts for another scheming dude, not when we’re still trying to wrap our heads around some of the things Chuck and Thomas have done. But now that Cyrus–the King’s younger brother–has graced our scenes, we think we have room for one more guy we love to hate.
Anna Bates + Jenny Humphrey = Ophelia
Remember when Jenny was still sweet and innocent? And when Anna had a chipper, bright view of the world? That’s sort of how we see Ophelia in The Royals pilot. As the only non-Brit of the bunch, she’s sort of our sane heroine through which we enter this world.
Mr. Green + Jack Bass = Jasper
What’s a good soapy drama without a skeezeball character to throw some twists into the mix? Jack Bass made life hell for Chuck and Blair (among others), and Mr. Green was responsible for one of Downton‘s most controversial episodes to date (poor Anna). We’re not saying what Jasper has up his sleeve, but we promise you’re not gonna like it.
Violet “Granny” Crawley/Isobel Crawley + Hazel Williams/Penelope Shafai = Princesses Penelope and Maribel
We couldn’t not mention Cyrus’s daughters, Penelope and Maribel. Spoiled, bratty and kind of clueless, their rivalry is amusing and hilarious to watch. Very much like watching Blair’s mean girl posse, or the elderly ladies of Downton who just love to get all up in everyone else’s business.
Got it? Good. Now you can head into Sunday night’s The Royals premiere at 10 p.m. ET on E! Canada.