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Sunday, November 18, 2007

In praise of The Tudors

The TV critics in the more upmarket papers were very scathing about the US production of The Tudors, currently showing on BBC2. They sneered at the historical errors, the actors, the sets, the "dumbing down" of history. Mostly they sneered because the Americans have had the audacity to recreate this period in British history.

Well, tosh to the pretentious old snobs. It's true that The Tudors is a glossy adaptation with a Henry VIII that doesn't look too much like the fat ginger beardy we've seen from the later portraits. And there is a lot of rumpy pumpy. But if we manage to introduce a few youngsters to the magic of history through this programme, than so much the better.

I remember years ago when I discovered the Tudors through the less than historically accurate pages of a Jean Plaidy novel. I was transfixed by this story of a king and his six wives...and it was all true! I became a devotee of the Tudor period to such an extent that I have a reproduction of Holbein's Anne of Cleeves looking benevolently at us in the dining room, and a bookcase groaning with academic assessements of the era (not just the populists like David Starkey).

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the king is a lot more suitable than the type we usually get, like Ray Winstone. In his day he was judged to be tall, when most men weren't, handsome, athletic and cultured. Katherine of Aragon is exactly as I imagined her, Ann Boleyn has won me round (she seemed a bit insipid to start with).

The only one who lets the side down, disappointingly, is Sam Neill as Wolsey. I've always liked Neill - he's a very versatile actor, and owns a vineyard too ("Two Paddocks" rather than Two Sheds). But in The Tudors his Wolsey somehow fails to hit the spot. He doesn't come across as obsequious, vile and toadying as Wolsey undoubtedly was.

1 comment:

Henson Ray said...

I watched the entire series when it was on Showtime this year, and really enjoyed it. Who cares about historical inaccuracies. This was a great soap opera, with great performances.

Also enjoyed your postings about "Strictly Come Dancing," which I imagine is the British version of "Dancing with the Stars."

Great blog. Keep up the good work.