The Tudors follows the life of King Henry the Eighth (in his twenties and thirties) and stars up-and-coming actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role – possibly miscast and more suitable to playing Edward VI or Lord Dudley.
The episode started with Henry handing over his rule of France and signing a treaty with his cousin Francis, ending his war preparations. He reluctantly signs (initially declaring himself “Henry, King of England, Ireland and France”), but at the French court he is introduced to the Boleyn Sisters – Mary and Anne. Mary has been Francis’ mistress and Henry quickly requests an invitation and charms her. He has been increasing disillusioned with his own wife, Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his brother Arthur. He longs for a son and heir, but she has borne him a daughter, Mary, who is destined to marry Francis’ son – Prince Henri Phillipe. Henry has an illegitimate son by Lady Blount and calls him Henry Fitzroy.
Meanwhile, Henry has other worries in the shape of the Pope and the Duke of Buckingham (Steven Waddington – who would have made a convincing Henry VIII). Thomas Boleyn, ambitious father of Mary and Anne, informs Cardinal Wolsey (Sam Neill) about the Duke of Buckingham’s plans to kill the King. The Duke of Buckingham himself has a claim on the throne, as he was a direct descendent of Edward II. He is tried for treason by his peers (led by Lord Norfolk) and is beheaded, whilst Henry celebrates the birth of his son.
Towards the end of the programme, we see more plotting as Henry is no longer paying attention to Mary Boleyn, but another sister – Anne has set her sights on him and his encouraged by her father. The Tudors is Emmy Award nominated and it is easy to see why as there is a stong and well-known cast, drama and intrigue and a lavish production. However, the historical accuracy is questionable.