sun 27/09/2020

The Tudors, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

The Tudors, BBC Two

The Tudors, BBC Two

Season four is high-octane tosh. No change there, then

Royal prerogative: Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) with conveyor belt of wives

It's a strange mixture, this Tudors malarkey. The opening episode of the fourth and supposedly final series spent an age spinning through the back story as if earnestly trying to educate us in the history of the bloodthirsty English ruling family. Then the credits rolled and everything returned to business as usual, in other words murder, lust, sadism, gluttony, treachery and avarice.

It's a strange mixture, this Tudors malarkey. The opening episode of the fourth and supposedly final series spent an age spinning through the back story as if earnestly trying to educate us in the history of the bloodthirsty English ruling family. Then the credits rolled and everything returned to business as usual, in other words murder, lust, sadism, gluttony, treachery and avarice.

It makes for a televisual mixture bursting with calories and MSG, especially when combined with the opulent camerawork and Kerrygold Country Irish locations. It's a formula which has plainly rubbed off on other steroid-enhanced pseudo-historical potboilers like Spartacus: Blood and Sand and The Pillars of the Earth.
Still, history has always been at least as much to do with current perceptions of the past as with those slippery little devils known as "facts", so treating it like an animated copy of Grazia with added murder and soft porn doesn't seem all that unreasonable. Obviously we're in for lots of fun with Henry VIII's new queen, Katherine Howard, played by Tamzin Merchant like a nymphomaniac teenage Sloane. Surrounded by a bevy of giggling ladies-in-waiting who stand around tittering excitedly as though about to go backstage with JLS, she's royalty for the X Factor generation.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is still playing the king as unfeasibly slender and virile, rather then as Demis Roussos sewn into a set of velour curtains, but even his gargantuan appetites are struggling to keep abreast, if you will, of his insatiable young queen. One moment she's teasing him with pornographic shadow-puppets miming oral sex, the next she's lounging naked on a four-poster bed bedecked with red rose petals, in a knowing nod to Mena Suvari's famous scene from American Beauty (Tamzin Merchant gives it a whirl, pictured below).
queen_smallBut never mind the king, Katherine is also driving some of his entourage nuts, especially Thomas Culpepper (Torrance Coombs), who describes himself as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.
Having drooled fruitlessly at Her Majesty from afar, his condition exacerbated by the boiling hot summer they were having in 1540, he rode out with a bunch of mates and slaked his lust by raping the wife of the local park keeper. When the park keeper came to remonstrate, Thomas ran him through with his sword. Odd, because he originally seemed a nice young man. This may cause trouble, since the king has already served notice that he won't tolerate yobbish behaviour by publicly hanging Ms Howard's cousin at Tyburn.
Historically, little of any significance seems to be going on. There were a few references to a bit of militaristic argy-bargy across the Channel, though to Henry's frustration this was settled by the French in a shock outbreak of reasonableness.
Henry also made a peremptory decision to free 500 prisoners who had been jailed for heresy, to the palpable alarm of his retinue, but he'd made up his mind so that was that. It seemed to have something to do with the French king's proposal that his son Henri should marry Henry's daughter Mary, but the historico-political thrust remained opaque.
Of far more significance is the arrival at Court of the queen's friend Joan Bulmer (Catherine Steadman), who is teasing Katherine by reminding her of her past behaviour with boys, details of which the queen would prefer not to reach the king. And not just boys either, judging by the way Joan climbed into Katherine's bed and started stroking her. I don't remember any of this sort of thing in A Man for All Seasons.

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Comments

I see that The Tudors can be celebrated as enjoyable tosh, but it would be rather more enjoyable if the central character were played by someone who had more acting ability than Posh Spice.

I think you must have been watching a different person Tim as I find Jonathan Rhys Meyers abilities at portraying his version of Henry to be nothing short of fantastic - instead of trying to make it into a dull book of facts I think he portrays him as a vivid and current character - I find him the most watchable thing on TV and I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Henry in this adaptation - I think without him it wouldn't be half the show it is he's amazing and indispensable!

Well,I read this report with the usual nonchalance that I have adopted with all the previous ones referring to The Tudors..nothing new here..having been a lifelong student of the Tudor period ,in my opinion watching Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII has brought a breath of fresh air to the character in our history books.He has played him with such energy & power that was long needed after all the usual ''stuffy,grandfather'' type Henrys' of the past.. He is magnificent!! extremely watchable & moreish..all I can say is that its a pity Henry didn't have more wives,then we could still have forthcoming pleasure to enjoy!!

Must have been watching an entirely different programme to me. It shows by casting Jonathan as one of the most controversial monarchys in history that a person without Henry VIII's physique can still manage to portray what he looked like. Jonathan is playing the king as he has said in many interviews 'what he would be like in power if he was that age' I think he is naturally gifted as he never attended drama school as he said you cant learn how to act, youve either got it or you havent and he has definitely got it. It may not be historically accurate but its still blooming good TV! I look forward to it all the time, mostly to see Jonathan but also because Im interested in his reign and Jonathan has never dissapointed in any of the seasons. In my opinion the casting directors made the correct choice as most of the actors that have been chosen to play him have looked like Henry, but Jonathan has bought something new to him. Im sorry but I disagree with this article.

Has anyone else noticed an increasingly Irish accent in the aging king...

watched the tudors last week,have avoided it previously as someone with a great interest in history,and being old eneough to remember the keith michell/glenda jackson era,i suspected it would be a shallow attempt to sex up history for the kids.Having now seen it i see i was right,no focus, depth,or any attempt to explain the times portrayed,or challenge the viewer,the performance of mr meyers is jaw dropping(not in a good way!)i keep waiting to hear the other characters whispering that they suspect the king sounds irish and may not be english at all,genius casting, At the centre of all this is a wonder of appalling casting.Jonathan Rhys Meyers,strange as he physically could be henry,who as a young man had a reputation of being handsome and full of energy

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