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TELEVISION REVIEW

Lifetime’s ‘William & Kate’ is a royal bore

Camilla Luddington plays Kate Middleton and Nico Evers-Swindell is Prince William in the Lifetime film “William & Kate.” Camilla Luddington plays Kate Middleton and Nico Evers-Swindell is Prince William in the Lifetime film “William & Kate.” (Jack Zeman)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / April 18, 2011

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Once upon a time in the land of People, in the kingdom of TMZ, on the planet Enquirer, there was a golden couple named William and Kate. Every week, we heard stories about them, fabulous tales of tea with the queen, smart outfits, London nightclub intrigue, and, of course, spats. And they were pretty, and we couldn’t get enough of them, and they thrived.

And now, in the state of Lifetime, in the realm of tonight at 9, there is a movie called “William & Kate,’’ about the beloved pair and their affair. The union of Lifetime and the engaged couple is, as Kate might say, “pah-fect.’’ Soft on facts and rife with lather and cliches, Lifetime is just the right home for a gauzy fairy tale about the royal romance. On the eve of the April 29 nuptials, Lifetime has crammed together every rumored step of William and Kate’s relationship into an empty jaunt in which the Mean Girl gets her due and the Good Girl gets the prince.

William is played by Nico Evers-Swindell, who looks like Prince William just enough to make it work. His William is endlessly gentlemanly, with blond hair and an irony-free smile forever playing around his mouth. He is so cute — he thinks he can cook, but he can’t! — and embarrassed by the fan worship. He just wants to go to college and “blend in,’’ he says, but everyone makes a fuss over him. Fellow student Kate (Camilla Luddington), however, doesn’t join in the jostling to get close to Wills, which makes her more desirable. They flirt, there is chemistry, and before long — despite intimidation of Kate by a jealous, aristo-catty blonde — there is love and sex, Lifetime style.

Faced with paparazzi mania and a snooty etiquette coach who looks down on her curtseying abilities, Kate keeps her cool. In a declaration typical of the shallow script, she tells William, “I love the private you, I love the public you, I love the you no one gets to see but me.’’ Visiting the royal residence might be exciting in real life, but in “William & Kate’’ it is as boring as everything else. When William takes Kate and their housemates home to meet his father, Prince Charles (Ben Cross), it’s a snooze, peppered with awkward table banter.

The performances are lousy. Midway through “William & Kate,’’ when the narrative arc calls for an obstacle, the puppy-loving William very suddenly succumbs to peer pressure and becomes a party animal without Kate. Evers-Swindell plays the bad-boy William exactly as he played the good boy — with the kind of monochromatic charm that veers between dull and duller. It’s a miracle of characterlessness. Luddington’s Kate, too, is extraordinarily bland.

If the makers of “William & Kate’’ had loaded up their movie with higher-octane performances, and if they’d aimed for more humor, flash, and cynicism, they might have come up with a more engaging piece of camp. Instead, they deliver a royally forgettable bit of banality.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. For more on TV, visit www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog.

WILLIAM &KATE

Starring: Nico Evers-Swindell, Camilla Luddington, Ben Cross

On: Lifetime

Time: Tonight, 9-11