BBC to air musical comedy based on the life of Meghan Markle: the 'Sixth In Line to be King and I'

Hannah Furness
The Duchess of Sussex at a meeting with the Association of Commonwealth Universities - ACU/ David Tett

She waved goodbye to the acting world with her final episode of Suits, giving up a showbiz career to marry into the Royal Family.

But if the Duchess of Sussex can no longer star in her own show, the BBC is striving to provide the next best thing: a musical based on the life and times of Meghan Markle, entitled “The Sixth In Line to be King and I”.

Radio 4’s 15 Minute Musical has turned its sights to the Duchess, with a "Rodgers and Hammerstein-inspired" comedy broadcast confirmed for the Christmas schedule.

It will see radio actors "look ahead to what promises to be an exciting 2019 for the happy royal couple as they expect their first child in the spring", in what is described as an "inspired celebration of Meghan Markle's life to date".

The show has previously broadcast episodes including “The Legend of Holy Superior Mother Theresa May and the Magic Money Tree”, “Jeremy Corbyn Superstar!” and “Cabarexit”, which saw them “turn the EU referendum into a sexy, sassy, sensationalised, sublime sounding musical”.

The Duchess, with a coat draped around her shoulders, ready to take notes Credit: ACU/ David Tett

The story, to be broadcast on New Year's Day, will be told by the programme’s regular cast of Pippa Evans, who will play the Duchess, Dave Lamb and Richie Webb.

Kensington Palace were not consulted on the contents of the musical, one of two Christmas episodes of the show.

The second, called Eurostars, features  a Eurovision Song Contest-style performance from "our non-Brexit-obsessed counterparts on the continent as they look back on their action-packed 2018".

Last year, the BBC Radio Christmas schedule included a special edition of the Today programme, guest edited by Prince Harry.

15 Minute Musical cast members Pippa Evans, Dave Lamb and Richie Webb Credit: BBC

The Duchess, who is expecting her first child in the spring, this week signalled the direction her real working life will take next year, in a meeting of academics hosted by King’s College London to discuss “how higher education can help build a better world”.

In a private meeting, which a professional photograph was invited to capture, the Duchess heard from experts about the “role of universities in addressing human trafficking and modern slavery, gender equality and inclusion, peace and reconciliation, and climate change and resilience”, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) said.

The list of those attending included seven senior professors and Vice-Chancellors of British universities, with other academics from overseas also giving their input.

The Duchess of Sussex announces two ACU grants in Fiji Credit: Reuters

It follows a speech from the Duchess during a royal tour to Fiji, when she announced two ACU grants particularly designed to fund and empower women in education.

The meeting was not announced ahead of time, with photographer David Tett invited by the university to take photographs of the Duchess at work, appearing attentive and with a pen in her hand.

The pictures, approved by Kensington Palace, were released on their Instagram page yesterday.

The radio programme about the Duchess’ life is part of a Christmas schedule which also includes an appearance from real royalty.

Prince Charles with Private Passions host Michael Berkeley Credit: BBC

The Prince of Wales is to share the musical moments that have shaped his life as a guest on Radio 3’s Private Passions.

He will discuss the role of music in his life in the 45-minute-long BBC show, due for broadcast on BBC Sounds on Boxing Day and Radio 3 on December 30, in which knowledgeable  guests discuss "their musical loves and hates". He is understood to be a fan of the programme.

His selection of eight songs includes music performed at his wedding to The Duchess of Cornwall, as well as a work he personally conducted with members of the Philharmonia Orchestra as part of his wife’s 60th birthday.

Prince Charles, his cello and Prince Edward in 1969 Credit: Rex

The prince also speaks "about formative early childhood experiences of attending the ballet and concerts with his grandmother, the Queen Mother", as well playing the cello with the Trinity College Orchestra while he was a student at Cambridge.

The special landmark edition of Private Passions was announced as part of a series of box sets, festive podcast specials and seasonal music mixes.

The Duchess of Cornwall meets reindeer Dancer and Blitzen during her party for children at Clarence House Credit: AP

Bob Shennan, director of BBC Music and Radio, said: "For the first time this Christmas and New Year listeners can indulge in box set specials as well as festive podcasts and music mixes on BBC Sounds."

Other programmes will see Sir David Attenborough play old sound recordings of people and animals he made during his early career, as well as collections of live music, investigative crime podcasts and archive interviews with "music's biggest icons".