The White Queen: Addictive as Game Of Thrones; Better For Its Reality

July 24, 2013 6:28 pm

I’m pretty sure my American second cousins, should they visit us again in the next few years, would be very surprised to discover that in England, we sadly do not all wear long medieval dresses, ride carts and plot the downfall of the present monarch. Because the new show in town, The White Queen, as watchable as Game Of Thrones and all the much the better for its basis on historical fact, is capturing audiences far and wide.

‘You’d really like it,’ said my future mother-in-law. ‘It’s right up you and Jon’s street!’

So, that evening, in one of our first joined family events since I returned from India and threw myself on the mercy of their accommodation, we sat around the television aThe White Queennd watched the first episode back, followed swiftly by the second.

By that point, I was desperate for the third.

With a stamp of approval from Philippa Gregory, the mistress of historical weaving and dramatic supposition (who also wrote The Other Boleyn Girl), the show is headed up by some new but incredibly deserving heavyweights of the acting world, mostly in its actresses. Most notable is Henry Tudor (later Henry VII)’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, played here as a neurotically pious widow twice over, by Amanda Hale, who is really showing her cards since first coming to real attention on Ripper Street. Proving one of the characters you love most in the show is the actress playing Queen Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta, Janet Teer, whose ever-steady, ever-knowing witchy portrayal makes you both root for her and cheer when she, as she usually does, come out on top.

Populated by worthy actors, stunning sets (both studio and natural backdrop) and a tantalising storyline, the only downside is that there are regretfully no dragons here. One also likes it for its different slant it is putting on certain historical figures. Naturally, being somewhat of a Shakespeare buff, I saw Richard III in my mind’s eye as the formidable, crouching hunchback with a sneer and vile temper. All of a sudden, we see his supposed hump gone and in his image’s place, a young hunk with seemingly fierce loyalty to his eldest brother.

It also provides a new humanity to history, which is often forgotten in a string of dates and plots and battle outcomes. One occasionally forgets that the human reason behind the decisions made, both political and person, but the series enables you to see the more understandable side of kingship, court protocol, marriage arrangements and alliance formations.

For any who have not seen it already, I urge you to keep yourself otherwise unengaged for an hour at 9 pm of a Sunday night, and catch up with it in iPlayer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy up pretty much all of Philippa Gregory’s books!

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