‘Suffered’ probably isn’t the right word. No ‘tolerated’, that’s right we’ve now tolerated three episodes of the BBC’s big flagship historical drama, The White Queen. The show has been slated for it’s historical inaccuracies and downright continuity errors, from costume to props – it’s very hard to take Max Irons’ Edward IV seriously when he’s dressed in Camden chic as opposed to the traditional regalia of a medieval monarch. However, easily it’s greatest failing is the 70s B-Movie dialogue and script. A moment in episode two particularly springs to mind where Lord Warwick leaves the King’s chamber, believing he’s secured a fortuitous marriage for his daughter and pauses in the foreground to give an extended look that is supposed to convey his delight at his cunning nature but in reality is reminiscent of Joey’s ‘smell the fart acting’ in Friends, something that mocked this clichéd and contrived form of television-making over a decade ago.
It is an extraordinary feat that one of the most fascinating, bloody and important periods in English and Euopean history has been made a laughable pastiche of a historical drama and testament to the inherent power of the story of the Wars of the Roses, the end of the Plantaganet dynasty and the Tudor succession that we keep watching but my advice is that if you want the real story, something infinitely more gripping than this attempt, then buy yourself the boxset of History of Britain. The great thing about history is there’s no inaccuracies, no crap acting or clunky dialogue, just a great story thatactually happened.
If you want to talk about suffering though, just ask the poor sods who came a cropper in the opening episode of series three of the masterful Luther, which returned to our screens last night (Tuesday 2nd July) and once again caused an entire nation to despair at the inherent evil of mankind/cack their pants. The episode with the randomly murderous twins from series two continues to disturb me to this day – I met Steven Robertson, who played the twins, in a toilet at a casting agency where I had a meeting. He politely smiled and said ‘Hello’ when he saw my eyes widen in terror, I nodded and promptly fled in fear of my life. Last night was in a similar vain, as the opening episode featured two killers on the loose. One, a stony-faced psycho with an extraordinary knack for hiding in the creepiest places. The other, a bereaved father who cut off his own hand to avoid fingerprint analysis – standard. Every aspect of this show oozes quality, but towering above it all, as a leviathan of inner conflict and torment is Idris Elba’s performance as the title character, John Luther.
Elba has said this is the darkest series yet of the show, no mean feat given the nature of the previous series and that it haunted him when the cameras stopped rolling. Given the release of summer blockbuster Pacific Rim this week and the second Thor movie later in the year, both of which he stars in and will add to his growing Hollywood profile this is set to be the final series of the darkest, most difficult to watch and masterful series on British TV for a long while. I wrote about the sad death of James Gandolfini recently and his seminal performance as the tortured Tony Soprano and it’s a great comfort that television of that quality is still being made – Elba is of course is an HBO alumni too after his performance as sophisticated drug lord Stringer Bell in The Wire.
The BBC should simultaneously pat itself on the back and kick itself in the nuts this week but it’s nothing a couple of history lessons and a writing class won’t cure and to those of you who watched Luther, who checked under the bed before going to sleep last night?… And then in the loft? … And then under the bed once more to make sure? … Now that’s good telly.
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