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So sick of Henry
28 November 2008 ~ 12:32It seems to me that in the world of historical TV drama and film, there are certain popular periods which have been ‘done to death.’ The Second World War, the Victorian era, and of course the Tudors. I swear that if I never see another drama about Henry VIII or Elizabeth I, I’ll die happy. Anyone would think that they were our only monarchs! Huge periods of our rich and vibrant history are almost totally ignored, for example The Great War, a time that bridged the stuffy Edwardian era and the roaring twenties. In fact, we get more dramas about ancient Rome and it’s not even our country.
The most sadly neglected period, in my opinion, is the Middle Ages, the historical time I find the most fascinating. Shakespeare’s plays have been staged and filmed too many times to mention, yet Chaucer’s equally brilliant works never get a look-in. The civil war between the roundheads and the cavaliers was not the only English civil war, though you’d think so if you were a foreigner watching UK TV. How about the Wars of the Roses? Or the 12th Century battle for the crown between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, who nearly became our first reigning queen centuries before the Tudor queens. And Eleanor of Aquitane deserves her own film just as much as Elizabeth I.
Let’s not also forget that the UK isn’t just England. What of Scottish, Welsh and Irish history? Where is the film epic about Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s most famous king, or the drama series about the struggle for independence by the REAL princes of Wales in the medieval principality?
Of course it won’t be much good if these events do get portrayed but the costumes are woefully badly researched and the scripts full of anachronisms. Tudor films and Jane Austen dramas have very realistic sets and costumes, but most medieval characters, when they are represented, are done so in ridiculous outfits like Guy of Gisbourne’s ‘motorbike leathers’ in BBC’s Robin Hood.