Diana’s Decades looks at each era of her life

Thursday: Diana’s Decades; (ITV, 9pm)

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 5:00 pm

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 25 years since Diana, Princess of Wales died after the car she was travelling in crashed at high speed into the underground Alma Bridge in Paris. She would have celebrated her 60th birthday this year.

She was feted by the media, and a divisive figure, adored and disliked in almost equal measure by those who loved the Royal family and those who didn’t. She continues to make headlines to this day, as the recent scandal linked to her bombshell 1995 BBC Panorama interview demonstrates.

No matter your opinion, her influence as a celebrity is undoubted.

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Lady Diana Spencer leaving her flat in Kensington, London

Diana started and drove endless global trends, from the clothes she wore to how she styled her hair. She embraced charitable causes few other public figures would touch with a bargepole, including Aids, and made some brave decisions, such as striding across a live minefield.

Three-part documentary series Diana’s Decades offers a fresh look at her life, revealing how she both channelled and influenced popular culture at the end of the 20th century.

Each episode will explore how an era of her life encapsulated the spirit of the age and, at the same time, inspired profound social change. It also tracks down people, some of whom have never spoken publicly before, who met her or whose lives intersected Diana’s in some way, from her early royal life as a shy bride, through her high-profile work for HIV charities and much-publicised contact with Hollywood and that other ‘royal family’ in the music industry during the 1980s, through to her being embraced as the ‘People’s Princess’ becoming an unlikely emblem of a new, very public emotional candour amid the changing face of Britain during the 1990s.

The series includes rarely seen archive footage from Diana’s life, alongside iconic scenes from the changing social, fashion and economic cultures she lived through – from the “big bang” in the City, the political transition from Thatcherism to the Blair era and changing attitudes to sexuality, 24-hour news channels and the confessional TV of Oprah Winfrey (the presenter who would listen as her son Harry, poured out his heart about his mother’s death and its impact on him decades later), to the rise of the Spice Girls during “Cool Britannia”.

The series’ executive producer Teresa Watkins explained how the series has a much wider focus than just the Princess: “This is Diana’s story but it’s also the story of us, and how we’ve been marked by her life even in ways we are not fully aware of.”

Daniela Neumann of Spun Gold TV added: “Nearly 25 years on from her death, Diana, Princess of Wales continues to lead our news bulletins and conversations not just in Britain but around the world.”

As the series looks back at what was, it’s interesting to also think about what might have been. Had she survived that night in Paris, would Diana still enjoy the same levels of popularity and influence? We think she would!

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