‘Elizabeth who’ is back again?

Elizabeth Tudor. I am referring to the one who lived in the sixteenth century and I’m not talking about her ghost either. The series Becoming Elizabeth is on Channel 4 on Saturday nights. The Tudors never seem to be off our screens. They also take up a lot of ink. I have said before that that family gets too much attention.


What have I written about the Tudors?

I have written at least briefly about most periods in history but not about Elizabeth or the Tudors. See Geoffrey’s Historical Shorts.

The cover of Geoffrey's historical shorts. None of these stories is about Elizabeth or the Tudors.

None of these stories is about Elizabeth or the Tudors.

Is this a remake of Elizabeth R?

No! Thankfully, nobody is trying to outdo Glenda Jackson and that brilliant cast. Whereas that series covered the whole reign of Queen Bess, this new series concentrates in some detail on the early life of the one who was to become England’s most famous queen. (Apart from her recently deceased namesake and Victoria). It looks at how Henry VIII’s second daughter coped and survived in the reigns following that king’s death until she ascended to the throne herself and attempts to show how events shaped her.

How does this compare with previous tellings of the story?

I am not aware of any that covered the same period in such detail. Usually, it is compressed into the introduction. (To be fair, In  Elizabeth R it took up the first episode.) Thus, my complaint that the story suffers from overexposure does not apply. I have remembered facts I had forgotten and have learnt a some new ones. Above all, what little I did know of the reigns of Edward VI, Mary and Jane I had not seen from the point of view of the young Elizabeth.

What is different about this version?

The biggest impression I get from it is FEAR! Not physical fear, but that which comes from uncertainty. The period was one when nobody at or near the court could feel safe. Power shifted as did alliances. As the princess was a teenager and half-sister to the boy king, she was a target for intrigue, which did not make for comfort. I think there is some brilliant acting and a good script with language that is accessible without being gratingly modern, although I did not know people in the 16th century used obscenities as much as they do now. As with most costume dramas these days, I wish there was more light. Not everything had to happen at night or on dull days. Of course, the darkness is a metaphor for the dark times, but please spare the viewers’ eyes!