Something has happened to the Tudors. Something odd. We’re up to episode 9 of Series 4 – one to go, and things are not looking good for Henry.
He’s nearly bankrupted England, and wasted the lives of thousands of men in waging a campaign against France. He returned at the end of episode 8, to announce to his waiting countrymen that he’d captured (you could almost hear the drum roll) Boulogne! “What’s that, Henry – thought you’d said ‘Boulogne’ there – You did say Boulogne? Oh. Great. Didn’t get as far as Disneyland Paris then?” The holiday dreams of a nation shattered.
The whole French trip left Henry a bit poorly, what with his ulcerated leg and all, and he collapsed at the end of episode 8. Now, here’s where it gets weird. By the start of episode 9, which, can’t be, temporally, that much after the end of episode 8, Henry has aged about twenty years. He looks, in certain lights, like Galen from Planet of The Apes. What’s more, he’s developed a very strong staccato Irish accent, like he’s channelling Richard Harris as Dumbledore. It’s as if the producers suddenly realised that they’d forgotten to age Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in the previous three series, and crammed in two decades of wear and tear in a week. One wonders whether they might now also realise Rhys Meyers was miscast all along, and make him fatten up and go ginger for the final episode.
It’s not just Henry who’s had a rough week. The Duke of Suffolk (Henry Cavill) returned from Boulogne with a new French mistress (not a teacher – you know what I mean). In what sounded like a very 21st century conversation, he introduced her to his son this week; “She makes me happy, which your mother, the Duchess, hasn’t done for a long time.” Fair enough. The lad took it well. All the sex seems to be wearing the Duke out though, as he’s looking very tired. He’s also sporting a new bouffant hairstyle which we haven’t seen before. I suspect he’ll have a trim before playing Superman.
The Duke of Surrey, played with arrogant malevolence by David O’Hara (but with, this time, a Scottish accent), has also had a tough time. Found guilty of treason, and locked in the Tower, his attempt to escape via the lavatorial arrangements into the Thames (a royal flush?) was foiled, and he’s been carted off for execution. They certainly knew how to punish people in those days. Hanged, chopped up, and redistributed according to the King’s will. I dare say a bit will end up back in Boulogne.
Bishop Gardiner is busily rounding up heretics (the rules on what constitutes heresy seem to be fairly flexible). This week, in an attempt to implicate Queen Catherine (Joely Richardson) as being a reforming protestant (wasn’t Henry one of those?), he arrests and tortures a woman preacher – Anne Askew. An osteopath once told me how many patients say, when lying on the treatment couch; “What you need is one of those racks to stretch me out.” If they saw what happened to Anne Askew, they might think again. The poor broken woman was carried to the pyre, where her only relief was a bag of gunpowder thoughtfully tied round her neck.
The Queen is a sweetie, busily translating protestant works, and, I think, doing an Open University course, or something. We know she survives, so I’m not too worried about her (though, in actuality, she doesn’t survive that long after Henry, which is a shame).
Princess Mary is shaping up as a first class bitch, preparing to burn as many heretics as is needed to restore England to the true faith. It’s not looking good for poor old Blighty, with her feeble brother, Edward, the only thing between her and the throne. I think she needs some diversity awareness training.
So what will greet us in the final episode? Will Henry have morphed into a German? Will he finally get to wear that ginger wig? I’ve stuck with it this far, so I’ll see it through to the bitter end, but if they make another series, I hope they sort things out. A chap could almost suspect that it wasn’t entirely historically accurate.
Posted by Our Man in the South