The Tudors (TV Series 2007)

The Tudors is a historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst and produced for Showtime. The series, named after the Tudor dynasty, is very loosely based upon the reign of King Henry VIII of England.

In Season One, the handsome, athletic, virile Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is in a loveless marriage to his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy). The young, hot-blooded Henry delights in combat sports and chasing women. His obvious philandering doesn’t seem to make much of an impact until he falls desperately in love with Catherine’s lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn (Natalie Dormer). Henry didn’t happen to meet Anne by chance; she was “pimped” by her father Thomas Boleyn (Nick Dunning) so that he and the Duke of Norfolk (Henry Czerny) could gain favour with the king. Henry eagerly wants to marry Anne but requires special permission from the Pope to divorce Catherine and he orders his trusted advisor Cardinal Wolsey (Sam Neill) to make it happen. Whilst he does everything that his king commands, Wolsey also furthers his own agenda – to gain a higher-ranking position in the church. Political scheming is rife and there are plenty of others plotting against Wolsey, hoping to remove him from the king’s side. It quickly becomes apparent that something significant will unravel if Henry does not get what he wants, and the world as the English court knows it, may never be the same ever again…

All the King's Men - Season One Promo

Interview with Sam Neill about his character Cardinal Wolsey

 

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Exerpt from an article from the February 4, 2008 edition of The West Australian newspaper

The Tudors is the past as you would like to imagine it was, with a dead sexy young Henry VIII romping with the ladies between bouts of jousting, hunting and games of tennis. It is a glorious flip through British history, richly costumed and beautifully photographed.

Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers sizzles in the role of Henry, all well-honed muscle, smouldering blue eyes and pouting lip. He is not a bad actor either - the series and Rhys Meyers were both Golden Globe nominees this year.

The 10-part Showtime series begins about 1518, when Henry was 27 and had been married to Katherine of Aragon for 10 years. He is having a torrid affair with his wifes maid-of-honour Elizabeth Blount and she soon falls pregnant.

But another of the Queens ladies, Anne Boleyn, has already caught his eye. This is the point where it is wise to forget about history, in real life it was 1533 before Henry had ditched the Catholic Church, divorced Katherine and married Anne. But where is the fun in being too correct?

This series ends with Anne triumphant and Henry in the process of breaking free of the Church of Rome. A second series has just been made that takes in the more famous part of Henrys life, when the ill and increasingly paranoid king took four more wives.

In the real world, Henry was a giant of a man, both physically (Rhys Meyers is a teeny bit short) and on the world stage at the time. He was surrounded by powerful men and Sam Neill plays one, Cardinal Wolsey, who was locked in a struggle with the scholar and statesman Sir Thomas More for the ear of the king.

"I have to say I really enjoyed making The Tudors," Neill said. "It was six months with a character that I found immensely intriguing, with a cast that I liked very much and with a story I found very compelling. It has elements that are hard to beat - revenge and betrayal, lust and treason, all the things that make for good stories.

"Wolsey was a statesman and an extraordinarily capable man. He was head of the Church in England as well as Chancellor of England, so he was as powerful as the prime minister is today. Not only that, he was a great builder. He built Hampton Court Palace and he endowed a college at Oxford. He even managed to sire two children. He was a busy boy."

A few critics of the series, which was a hit when shown in the US last year, have questioned whether Rhys Meyers is too good-looking and fit to be Henry and queried the buzz cuts worn by the male characters.

But Neill points out that Henry was extremely handsome and trim when a young man. "It was when he got old and grumpy and had eaten too much that he got to be vast," he said. "And if you look at Holbeins paintings from the time, they generally kept their hair very short."

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