The Tudors Review: Worth The Weight?

THE TUDORS: Saturday 29th January, BBC1, 9.45pm ALERT ME

Any woman whose husband has a divorce rate to match that of Ross Gellar and a penchant for dismembering his enemies, would do well to keep her mouth shut about any ex-boyfriends she might have had. Not Katherine Howard! She really should have sent that mate of hers packing when she rocked up at the palace last week, but no, she gave Joan Bulmer a job. Needless to say the ditzy girl soon shoves her foot in that enormously foolish mouth of hers tonight. The executioner is probably sharpening his favourite quartering knife already.

If you can get over some of the scattier elements of Showtime’s historical drama, this fourth series of The Tudors still delivers a entertaining punch. We’ll forget that in real life Henry VIII had now ballooned to 21 stone and that Anne of Cleeves is played by a reasonably hot actress and that the directors have taken some pretty bold creative liberties (the Queen of England in a mud-fight?!) because it is still fabulously watchable. Also there’s soft-porn by the bedload, which has never done any television programme any harm, indeed it proved it could support an entire station when Channel 5 was in its infancy.

Admittedly such scenes wouldn’t have been as enticing if the director had forced Jonathan Rhys Meyers into a fat suit, so factal inaccuracy does have its advantages. It would be futile to painstakingly measure each episode against historical fact and largely wide of the point, but sometimes its nice to feel the weight of history. In more ways than one..

If the rather svelte Henry starts this episode in a good mood, his joviality certainly doesn’t endure for long. Despite banging his young wife senseless, she still hasn’t become pregnant and to make matters worse, he’s got a bloody great ulcer on his leg. At least Katherine has stopped giggling brainlessly. If it wasn’t for her abysmally and implausibly oblivious companion, Henry’s new wife would definitely be the most foolish person in this lavishly silly 16th century drama. As such, nearly everyone in court is getting rather pissed off with her and form a queue to help lure her into a rudimentary trap involving the horny Thomas Culpepper. In all honesty, Katherine and her chief lady-in-waiting might be playing with fire on a monumental level, but they’re not the only ones at it. There doesn’t seem to be a person in this series who doesn’t have an axe to grind with someone (no pun intended).