King Henry, Lady Jane and Hugo Boss: The History Is Plain Wrong and the Acting Atrocious, but I'm a Fan of Tudorland
Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)
It's 1536, and in Tudorland, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is taking a break from filming commercials for Hugo Boss aftershave. Instead, he is modelling something altogether more classy: a dressing gown. This little number, perfect for the kind of draughts one tends to find in even the grandest of English homes, is made of ivory wool and lavishly trimmed with dead animal. As Rhys Meyers-sorry, I mean Henry VIII--enters the royal bedchamber, it moves with a charged swing, a triumph of cut that only serves to emphasise his amazing sexual charisma. What a man. Sure, he appears to be wearing panstick make-up most of the time, but thanks to outfits such as this, there is just no doubting the stench of testosterone coming off him.
No wonder Jane Seymour (Annabelle Wallis), his new wife, looks so blank. She is about to go to bed with a man whose body odour resembles that of a fox's set, and is clearly trying not to breathe through her nose. Oh, for a quick squirt of Hugo Boss now!
Henry, meanwhile, is apparently oblivious that Jane has changed somewhat since he last, saw her, the actor who played the good lady in her first incarnation having quit at the end of series two. Oh well. No matter. She'll be shuffling off pretty soon anyway, when she dies following childbirth. Lady Jane was a blink-and-you'll-miss-her kind of a wife, though the producers of The Tudors (starts 21 August, 9pm), with their easily bored American audiences in mind (the series is produced by Showtime, a US cable network), have decided that Henry will tire of her all the same. To that end, they have introduced an entirely fictional character called Lady Ursula Misseldon, whose job is to give King Henry, er, physical relief when his jousting injury is getting him down (said injury is in helpful proximity to his codpiece).
Alone with her ladies-in-waiting, then, Jane goes into proto-feminist mode, telling them that women are too hard done by in Tudorland, and none more so than Mary and Elizabeth, her husband's exiled daughters. She is going to restore them to court and, perhaps, buy them both a subscription to Cosmopolitan, though it is possible that Mary, a devout Catholic, is a little too prudish for Cosmo. …