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The Aristocrats

Sat May 18, 8-9pm, More4

Meet Nick AC, a 33-year-old English toff, jam-hot NYC DJ and X-treme marathon runner. Nick is also known as Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, a position to which he was elevated after a string of family tragedies promoted him from jetset loafer to a life of estate management, ribbon-cutting and the renovation the ruined family seat of St Giles House in Dorset.

This documentary follows the rebuilding of the house – complete, naturally, with the mild peril of a spurious, arbitrary and self-imposed deadline for the project – while, far more interestingly, the Ashley-Coopers open up about the sad, strange tale of their recent family history. Nick’s father Anthony had planned to rebuild the house back in the ’70s, but it all rather got away from him and he appears to have done more harm than good. His subsequent dalliance with a scheming French golddigger and her murderous brother, meanwhile, is worthy of a John Le Carré novel.

Quite why the filmmakers didn’t ditch the stately house angle and concentrate on this must count as a missed opportunity, but it’s a decent watch nonetheless.

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