Television Top Trumps: The Crown's Group Captain Peter Townsend vs Coupling's Patrick Maitland

Thanks to Netflix, semi-forgotten early noughties gem Coupling is back on our screens. As a show about three guys and three girls living it up in the big city, it might sound similar to another stalwart of 2001’s schedules. But before you scroll through to Friends, know this - Coupling reached levels of filth that the Central Perk crew would never dream of.

Really. It’s not one to watch with your parents. Believe 16 year old me when she tells you that.

Meanwhile back on Netflix your parents almost certainly will have watched The Crown. It’s classic parent-fodder, after all – big budgets, royalty, a touch of scandal. And providing some of that scandal is Ben Miles’ Group Captain Peter Townsend, who famously wasn’t allowed to marry Princess Margaret. Unfortunate for her, but handy for us since Ben Miles also played the caddish Patrick in Coupling.

But Ben Miles isn’t the only link between the two shows; Steven Moffat created and wrote Coupling, and also ran Doctor Who during The Crown star Matt Smith’s time as the doctor. Good fact, no?

No? Oh, ok. We’ll get started then.


Peter: Jolly well put together. As a member of the Buckingham Palace crew (because that’s clearly what they called themselves), Peter does an excellent line in tweed suits and RAF uniforms. 8/10

Patrick: Why were the early noughties so heavily about those horrible jumpers with one big stripe across the chest? Whey did men think this was a good look? Why did women ever sleep with men who dressed like that? They’re mysteries that Patrick may be able to answer, for he both wore those horrible jumpers and slept with many women. Shame he’s a fictional character and so we can’t actually ask him. 2/10


: Group Captain Townsend was, his Wikipedia page reliably informs me, a flying ace. Which is possibly the coolest description of all time – flying ace. It’s like a 20th century real-life Han Solo. Then he was a courtier, which is less cool. So let’s focus on the flying ace, shall we? 9/10

: It’s something businessy, isn’t it? Generic business. Involves suits and big egos and being a bit of a bellend. Suits him quite well. 2/10

Romantic past

Peter: Here’s where the controversy strikes – Peter was divorced. DIVORCED. Appalling. Apparently. Strange to think that there was a time where divorce wasn’t something half the royal family did, isn’t it? But Netflix tells us it was so. 6/10

: Patrick sees your pathetic controversy, and he raises you. For Patrick sleeps with all the women. All of them. Well, he at least sleeps with all three of Coupling’s leading ladies, and is talked about as having banged a hell of a lot more besides.

And he films them, which is a whole other thing that really needs a different article and probably a chat with the police. And which has absolutely lost him all the points here. 2/10

Establishment credentials

: RAF veteran, King’s Equerry, trusted couriter – Peter couldn’t get any more establishment. Except for that pesky divorce. 9/10

: In a sitcom set during the New Labour era, Patrick is that most dreadful of things – a Tory. The jokes about his lot being out in the political wilderness are enough to make you weep. If our current political reality hadn’t got you in tears already. 6/10


Peter: Presumably has some, although it’s never directly put on show. But he’s a jolly measured, jolly stable chap. 8/10

: Patrick is an idiot. A great big, Tory voting, womanising idiot. But apparently he looks nice in those horrible jumpers, so we’re meant to overlook this, I guess. 2/10

The Verdict

Old flying ace Townsend storms it, with 40 to Patrick's measly 14. That's what you get for being a Tory who films himself having sex, clearly.

Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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