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The Tudors - Season 3 premiere

The Tudors

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ON Friday evening (August 21), Henry Tudor in the guise of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, strode (albeit with a slight limp) onto our television screens for the third series of The Tudors. Fittingly, it continued where its predecessor had left off – with Henry about to marry his third wife, Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis).

Surprisingly perhaps, given the sexual shenanigans of previous series (and I’m not complaining), this first 90-minute episode concentrated very much on The Pilgrimage of Grace – an uprising of approximately 10,000 rebels in Northern England who were angered by the King’s economic, political and social policies – leaving Henry and Jane to consummate their marriage in privacy.

That aside, apart from slicked back hair and a painful ulcer on his left thigh, Henry/Meyers’ physical appearance has changed little since we first saw him strutting his stuff in the opening episode – he still has a six pack to die for and his chiselled features betray none of the ravages of time, which is not bad considering Henry’s age and excesses.

Meyers does however dip beneath the surface, revealing something of the heart and mind of the tyrant that was Henry. Not even the well-meaning Jane is immune from Henry’s wrath, albeit guarded in her case. Not so Thomas Cromwell (James Frain) whose smugness has been replaced by anxiety. But as history buffs will know, he has just cause.

But for all that, Meyers fails to convince as Henry. Not only does he lack the stature of the man presented to the world by artists but also the charisma that despite his shortcomings, ensured he was beloved by his subjects – during his entire reign he faced only the one aforementioned insurrection. All of which makes me wonder if Henry Cavill who portrays Charles Brandon, a particular favourite of Henry’s, would have been more suited to the role.

Newcomers to the series are Alan Van Sprang as poet/diplomat/soldier of fortune Sir Francis Bryan who, with his eye patch and earring, might have stepped straight off the set of The Pirates of the Caribbean; and Max Von Sydow as Cardinal Von Waldburg, resplendent in red, a fierce critic of the King and a sworn enemy of the Protestants.

Undoubtedly good to look at – the costumes are exquisite – and with more than its fair share of intrigue, The Tudors is certainly one to watch, though not necessarily for students of history. As for blood and gore, this new series hasn’t yet produced any although as things go, I think that might well be about to change. You have been warned…