The White Princess
The White Princess, a re-cast sequel to the BBC’s 2013 soft-focus War of the Roses drama The White Queen, has been dubbed ‘the feminist Game of Thrones’ – though presumably only by people who’ve never seen Game of Thrones.
It’s adapted from the novel by Philippa Gregory, who’s made a good career out of rescuing medieval noblewomen from the margins of English history – most notably in The Other Boleyn Girl. Here, our heroine is Elizabeth of York (the in-demand Jodie Comer), who we meet grieving for her late lover (and – eeeuw – uncle) Richard III, who has just died for want of a horse at Bosworth and is already on his way to that car park in Leicester. Now Lizzie has been promised to the new king, Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy), who’s a lot prettier than he looks in his portraits, but is also a total diva, stomping around shouting ‘ban the snow from falling, I will have no white in England!’ like a Tudor Elton John.
Lizzie is not impressed, and Horrid Henry clearly prefers her sister Cecily (Suki Waterhouse), aka The Other York Girl. But he’s one of those kings who does what his mummy tells him – in this case steely matriarch Margaret Beaufort, as played by Michelle Fairley, best known as Game of Thrones’ steely matriarch Catelyn Stark. See what they did there?
David Starkey, with his trademark charm, has dismissed Gregory’s books as ‘good Mills and Boon’, and it’s true they’re a bit on the soapy side. But it would be a stretch to call the story of someone being made, in Lizzie’s words, ‘a whore and a martyr’ – a brood mare tasked with bearing a child to unite the warring houses of York and Tudor – romantic, even if the bodice ripping does ramp up in future episodes.
Produced by Starz (which, as American cable networks go, is less HBO, more ITV Encore), The White Princess is clearly no Wolf Hall, and its budget would barely cover the Game of Thrones title sequence. But it’s a timely reminder that history wasn’t just made by the shouty lot with beards.
Love, Lies and Records
You can’t fault Kay Mellor’s logic in setting her new drama in a register office, where births, deaths and marriages add up to what the writer calls ‘a microcosm of life’. (One particularly tear-jerking scene, in which Ashley Jensen’s registrar married a terminally ill new mum, managed to combine all three at once.) I’d only question why she felt the need to bolt on a superfluous murder subplot: do we really need to see yet another young woman being dragged from a canal?
Would I Lie To You?
It may promote itself on Twitter as #WILTY, but TV’s second best comedy panel show (after the immortal #HIGNFY, obvs) shows no sign of droop as it enters its second decade. Increasingly hairy regulars Lee Mack, David Mitchell and Rob Brydon are three of this country’s finest wits – and where else this week could you see Ed Balls and a trade unionist called Billy doing a karaoke cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross? Nowhere, that’s where.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, November 23 2017
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