'Tudors' drama brings 'shame' on BBC, says historian

Racy period drama 'The Tudors' brings “shame” on the BBC with its “ignorance” of the facts, one of Britain’s best-known historians has claimed.

David Starkey, who specialises in Henry VIII and the Tudors, told an audience at Cheltenham Literature Festival the TV series was “terrible history” and that most of the costume “was Elizabethan”.

Answering a question on what he thought of the film 'A Man For All Seasons' (about Henry VIII’s lord chancellor Sir Thomas More), Starkey said: “It’s terrible history but at least it has a point.

“'The Tudors' is terrible history with no point. It’s wrong for no purpose. I’ve got no problem with getting history wrong for a purpose – Shakespeare often got things wrong for a reason.

“But it’s the randomised, arrogance of ignorance of 'The Tudors'. Shame on the BBC for producing it. But saying that, my front cover is cribbed directly from it!”

He added: “Most of the costume is Elizabethan.”

Earlier in the presentation, about his second book on the much-married monarch, Starkey said Henry VIII was identical to Tony Blair in the way the older man was completely different from the younger.

He said: “There was a wonderful exchange in the early days between Tony Blair and William Hague. The selected year was 1987.

“Hague went through a list where Blair had changed his mind (since then), on things like public ownership and unilateral disarmament, and found Blair losing his temper with this deplorable catalogue.

“He said ’Come on, do you believe everything you believed in in 1987?’.

“Hague, with characteristic brilliance, much good it did him, replied ’Do you believe anything you believed in 1987?’.

“He (Henry VIII) is Blair. He flips, he somersaults. You’ll find scarcely anything that young Henry believed that old Henry believed.

“The young Henry would have burned the old Henry. What was acceptable and what was unacceptable was completely reversed over the course of 20 years.”

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