The ITV series Victoria aired this autumn, and was the crowning glory of the season. That it follows just one woman, rather than a whole royal family or dynasty, means it is far easier to become emotionally invested in Victoria’s life (something which is harder with Henry VIII, because *spoiler alert* he was mean). Jenna Coleman made a good choice in leaving Dr Who to fulfil this role: Victoria’s story is well known, but this series personalised the woman behind the image of the drab widower, and gives an insight into her youth.
You want scandal? It’s here. You want beautiful princes? Get involved. You want sunny shots of Versailles palace to forget about the encroaching Edinburgh winter? Come on in. Whether it is fabricated or true to history is debatable, so don’t watch Versailles to learn a lot about French history or politics. However, any embellishments made to the facts just enhance the scale of the scandal and translate it to a modern audience. The accuracy can be irrelevant – it is just a drama, after all – so sit back and enjoy the scandal and decadence.
The White Queen
Filmed in Belgium, the beautiful shots are just one of the things that make this series. It might have aired a few years ago, but The White Queen should not be forgotten yet – just like the story that it brings to life. The drama is set during the War of the Roses, one of the bloodiest wars in English history, and the acting is stellar and the characters (or historical figures) are each explored in depth. A sequel is in the works – The White Princess – so make sure you’re up to date before then.
If you’re looking for something slightly more historically accurate, but still just as dramatic, watch Wolf Hall. The Tudors (and especially Henry VIII) have been on the big and small screens many times – but Wolf Hall takes a new angle. Not just looking at the highs and (severe) lows of his marriages, the life of Thomas Cromwell is looked at in new depths. This enables the viewer to have a new view of Henry: more political, less romantic, but just as gripping.
However, the historical side isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a more attractive Henry VIII, he is present in The Tudors. It’s not a recent series but it’s still a stellar one. The gossip and the drama of the Tudor court is present in Wolf Hall, but not on this level; whereas Wolf Hall is quite speech-based, The Tudors is rather more sex-based. If you like regal dramas and haven’t watched this yet, you’re in for a treat.
Image: Andreas Tille @ Wikimedia Commons