Fascinating glimpse Inside the Tower of London

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Thursday: Inside the Tower of London (Channel 5, 8pm)

If you enjoy documentaries about historic buildings with royal connections, then Channel 5 has got you covered.

It’s brought us Secrets of the Royal Palaces and Buckingham Palace with Alexander Armstrong, as well as Inside the Tower of London, which is now on its sixth series.

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However, you don’t have to be a royalist to enjoy Inside the Tower of London – it offers a fascinating glimpse into the stories behind one of Britain’s most iconic buildings and the lives of the people who work there.

The Tower of LondonThe Tower of London
The Tower of London

This latest run has been particularly fascinating as it has seen the staff preparing for the coronation of King Charles III and revealed all the small changes that take place when a new monarch is crowned – it turns out there are an awful lot of royal monograms that needed to be updated.

As we reach the fifth episode, it’s July 2023 and the coronation celebrations are over, but the Tower of London is still preparing for the start of another new era. That’s because after 14 years of loyal service, including four as Chief Yeoman Warder, Pete McGowran has announced his retirement.

It’s going to be a big loss, and the cameras follow him as he prepares to hand over the Tower keys to his deputy and successor, Yeoman Gaoler Rob Fuller. Before he goes though, Pete has time to reflect on some of his most memorable moments working at the Tower, including the time he gave Queen Elizabeth II a private tour of the Chapel.

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Pete is also preparing to lead his last Whitsun Parade, but it will be the first for new Tower Constable General Sir Gordon Messenger. The episode finds out how he is settling into the role, and learns more about his ‘office’ of King’s House. As you’d expect, it has plenty of history – it was the site of Guy Fawkes’ interrogation and is also home to the Tower’s oldest prison cell.

Anyone who has been watching the series so far will know this has been a challenging year for Ravenmaster Chris Skaife – the outbreak of avian flu meant the birds had to spend some time in lockdown.

Now, he’s got a new arrival on his hands in the form of a raven chick. This feathered recruit was raised in the countryside so is used to peace and quiet, and it’s up to Chris to help acclimatise it to the hustle and bustle of Tower life.

Meanwhile, a crumbling turret on top of the Cradle Tower is in urgent need of repair, but when you’re dealing with an ancient monument, it’s not just a case of calling in the builders. Every care must be taken to ensure that the renovations are done sympathetically.

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Finally for this week, Historic Royal Palaces Chief Curator Tracy Borman is on a mission to learn more about Henry VIII’s troublesome niece, Margaret Douglas. As Tracy reveals, Margaret struggled to survive in the famously ruthless Tudor court, and her choices would land her in a Tower cell on more than one occasion.