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A Review of The BBC’s The White Queen

The White Queen

Yesterday I posted a blog entitled ‘Who is the white Queen?’; today I am tempted to change that to ‘and who cares?’  Maybe that sounds bitter, but after looking forward to this series so much I was left very disappointed last night.  Here was an opportunity for the BBC, in showing the War of the Roses from the female perspective, to build real character for these women.  Instead what we were shown were another set of stereotypical female characters – Elizabeth the seductress, her mother the social-climbing witch and the Cecily Neville the overbearing mother.  And here are two of my biggest problems with the programme – the ridiculous witchcraft and second-sight and the even more ridiculous screeching threats by the Queen Mother to declare her own son a bastard.

Unfortunately, Edward IV played by Max Irons didn’t have the physical authority or the charisma to really hold our attention, something Edward IV really did have.  The relationship between him and Elizabeth, played by newcomer Rebecca Ferguson,  didn’t feel convincing to me either – it was a purely physical relationship, where she apparently tormented him by withholding sexual pleasure into marrying her.  Admittedly Edward was a young King, and he was a known seducer, but he was also a King with powerful advisers.  Again this seemed like a missed opportunity to give more substance to Elizabeth, to give us some understanding of why he would have gone against his own mother and uncle’s wishes to marry her.  There was a lot more to Elizabeth, and the only sight we had of this was when she made Cecily Neville curtsey to her at the end of the programme.  If we had seen more of this side of Elizabeth in her private conversations with her family, or even just her mother, this may have seemed less contrived.

The White Queen

To be honest I can forgive historical inaccuracies – ‘The Tudors’, afterall, is my guilty pleasure, which has become more fiction than fact – what I can’t forgive is the dullness of the programme.  There is nothing dull in the real story of Elizabeth Woodville, and what good historical fiction should do is make you want to find out the truth – I don’t think ‘The White Queen’ achieved this at all.

There were two shining lights for me amongst all the disappointment – one was the brilliant James Frain as Warwick, who was always captivating when on screen – taking my attention completely from the King.  The other was, for me, Lady Margaret Beaufort played by Amanda Hale – she was on only for a short while but she seemed to convey the essence of the woman who would become Henry VII’s mother and I am looking forward to seeing more of her.

Because, yes, even after the disappointment I feel compelled to watch the next in the series – at least my expectations will be lower this time!

BBC/Company Pictures & ALL3MEDIA/Ed Miller.

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  • Celia Molestrangler

    If you claim to be a Royal Blogger you should know it’s Lady Margaret BEAUFORT….

    • Karen Kilrow

      Thank you for picking up my typo – all corrected. Did you watch the programme?

  • Becca R

    Didn’t see it, but it sounds exactly like the book.

    • Karen Kilrow

      I hadn’t read the book – maybe if I had I wouldn’t have expected so much from the programme. It’s a shame because its such an interesting part of our history it could have been brilliant.

      • chloe

        I read the books which were brilliant so perhaps this is why I think Hale as Beaufort is just awful. Not at all how she should be. It just doesn’t quite fit, and I agree, its gone a bit downhill from the first few episodes

  • TudorQueen6

    This whole series is based on Philippa Gregory’s three books which are historical FICTION.

    “There was a lot more to Elizabeth, and the only
    sight we had of this was when she made Cecily Neville curtsey to her at
    the end of the programme.” That whole scene was a mockery of the real Lady Cecily Neville who never would have been degraded or spoken to like that. I was brutally honest in my blog on this and I will be here — I don’t like
    Jacquetta’s “holier than thou” attitude that is emerging. This was
    obviously a horrid and tasteless attempt to boost Jacquetta’s influence
    and “power” over the Duchess. It’s more than obvious that Gregory has
    become obsessed with Jacquetta and her daughter. In my opinion, if they REALLY wanted to boost Jacquetta SO
    much — they could have done it in a different way. They didn’t have to
    insult the King’s mother, the daughter of a powerful Earl and Countess
    Lady Joan Beaufort, a granddaughter of a royal Duke of Lancaster and
    titular King of Castile [son of King Edward III of England], and widow
    of the Duke of York [double descendant of Edward III]! I know it didn’t
    happen in history, but still — that scene should have been cut or done
    differently. If they had been at court and the Duchess had been sitting
    with her son, I do not think the two would have addressed [ganged up on] each other as
    such and Elizabeth wouldn’t have pulled the Queen card after letting her
    mother b***h out her mother-in-law. It’s rather ironic that Elizabeth
    comes in flabbergasted, but after her mother calls her mother-in-law a
    whore she has the nerve and guts to demand the Duchess bow down to her;
    then gloats to her husband how everyone is “great friend’s” now. Yeah,
    sure — Elizabeth is now best friends with “Duchess Cecily”. I don’t
    think Gregory thought about court etiquette when writing these books and
    whoever approved the scene has not read any history books lately.

    • iLoveMedievalHistory

      It’s got nothing to do with Philippa Gregory as to why this series is so poor. It’s all down to the production, the awful writing and screenplay and the terrible acting performances from the cast!

  • Michael William Stone

    I quite like it. My only real gripe is that they showed Henry VI being smothered with a pillow, when iirc it is pretty well established that he was clubbed to death with a blunt instrument of some kind. But compared to The Tudors, let alone Braveheart, it is pretty good.

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