An Entertaining Period Drama

The White Queen may turn out to be an excellent show for anyone looking for a period drama, or for anyone with an interest in historical events, as I am. I haven’t read the novel The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, which this show is based, but have read some of her other works, which include The Red Queen and The Women of the Cousins’ War. With a pedigree such as this, I was expecting this Philippa Gregory penned show to be at the very least entertaining, and it doesn’t disappoint. When watching a show like this, I don’t really expect historical accuracy to nth degree, which is just as well, but I do expect a sense of realism in appearance. On the whole, it looks pretty realistic, but I have to question the use of hair gel by Max Irons, or the fact that every shot with candles on display are shown fully lit, regardless the time of day.

This STARZ original drama, is set in 1464 England (but is filmed entirely in beautiful Belgium), as King Henry is fighting to regain his throne. The new King of England is Edward IV (Max Irons), thanks to his older cousin Lord Warwick (James Frain), who is known to all as “The King Maker,” but he is pushing his will on an arrogant womanising young King. His future Queen, and the star of The White Queen, is played by the ethereal Rebecca Ferguson, who very much looks the way I pictured this historic figure, with her pale, yet elegant features. Playing Baron Rivers, father of the bride, is Robert Pugh, who I last saw playing Craster in Game of Thrones. Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta Woodville is played wonderfully by Janet McTeer, who appears to be a practitioner of magic, and tells Elizabeth, she is descended from the River Goddess Athena.

There are several scenes which show Elizabeth having visions, but I’m unsure how much of this is accurate to known facts about the Queen. The Kings mother Duchess Cicely is performed by Caroline Goodall, but this being the first of ten episodes, we only just catch her at the end, as she and Lady Woodville get the claws out in an excellent confrontation, where Lady Woodville shows more of her cunning and sharpness of wit. Aneurin Barnard (Elfie Hopkins) plays Richard Duke of Gloucester, but so far has only been in the background.

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Max Irons has come a long way in a few short years, to become reasonably good in these roles, but really, it is the older cast members who make this a pleasure to watch. The acting is typically good for a quality TV show by the BBC/Starz, but we’ve only just begun so it still remains to be seen. The sets were mostly good, but as previously mentioned, the candles being constantly lit did seem odd. Direction wise, it is also very good, but it is with the writing I’m most pleased, as the interactions and overall dialogue appeared in keeping with the times.

Also, the general direction the story looks to be taking, and more so, the pacing, with it carrying us along at a decent rate. This first episode is hardly ground breaking or earth shattering, however it is hugely entertaining and also very interesting with plenty to offer fans of televised period dramas, but also has enough of a story to interest anyone wanting to simply enjoy an hour each week in front of the TV. I can see this show doing well in the UK and US alike, as I for one will be watching regularly. A must see show.

Highly Recommended

Grade: A-

by E Blackadder

Scripted by Emma Frost from Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Cousins’ War’ Directed by James Kent, Jamie Payne and Colin Teague.

The Cast: Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville, Max Irons as King Edward, Janet McTeer as Jacquetta Woodville, James Frain as Lord Warwick AKA The Kingmaker, Amanda Hale as Margaret Beaufort, Faye Marsay as Anne Neville, David Oakes as George Duke of Clarence, Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabel Neville, Aneurin Barnard as Richard, Duke of Gloucester, King Richard III, Ben Lamb as Anthony Rivers, Tom McKay as Jasper Tudor, Rupert Graves as Lord Thomas Stanley, Caroline Goodall as Duchess Cicely.