Right royal rip­per

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Tele­vi­sion - TIM MAR­TAIN THE TU­DORS, ABC2, Mon­day, 9.30pm

SOME­TIMES true sto­ries from his­tory are far more sor­did and twisted than any­thing fic­tion could throw up.

This is cer­tainly the case with The Tu­dors, the fourth and fi­nal sea­son of which starts to­mor­row night on ABC2.

That is not to say there is no cre­ative li­cence em­ployed in writ­ing this se­ries, as it does have its in­ac­cu­ra­cies, but by and large this epic tale of the life, reign and wives of King Henry VIII ad­heres re­mark­ably closely to the truth.

Known for his in­sa­tiable lust for all the fun things in life – sports, food, power, wine and, of course, women – Henry VIII was a walk­ing soap opera hun­dreds of years be­fore such a thing ex­isted.

Ar­guably most fa­mous for hav­ing six wives ( and ex­e­cut­ing two of them), Henry VIII also broke away from the Catholic Church by cre­at­ing his own Church of Eng­land and plac­ing him­self at its head. So he was some­thing of a goget­ter kinda guy.

This his­tory is so rich with in­trigue, vi­o­lence and sex that the writ­ers of this se­ries had some bril­liant source ma­te­rial to work with.

Most of the sto­ry­line across the se­ries fol­lows recorded Tu­dor his­tory sur­pris­ingly closely and any his­tor­i­cal in­ac­cu­ra­cies you spot are more likely to be in the finer de­tails of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment and in­ter­ac­tion than in any of the truly shock­ing events. For in­stance, the slim, dark- haired, well- groomed Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers ( pic­tured) is a fairly cu­ri­ous cast­ing choice to play Henry, who by this stage in his life was a fat, jowly, bushy­bearded red­head.

But it must be re­mem­bered Henry Tu­dor was con­sid­ered to be a dev­il­ishly at­trac­tive man at the time, es­pe­cially in his youth, and even in his later years would have been con­sid­ered a pretty good catch.

Look­ing back through mod­ern eyes, this is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to see, so cast­ing the dash­ing Mey­ers in the role makes a cer­tain kind of nar­ra­tive sense.

His good looks help us to see him the way his con­tem­po­raries would have.

Part of the fun of watch­ing The Tu­dors is to head to the his­tory books af­ter each episode to com­pare the ac­tual events with those pre­sented on screen.

As the fi­nal sea­son be­gins, it is the sum­mer of 1540, 30 years into Henry’s reign, and the king has just mar­ried his fifth wife, the teenage Kather­ine Howard ( Tamzin Mer­chant).

Although of aris­to­cratic blood, Kather­ine was raised in a board­ing house and has a dan­ger­ous se­cret, known only to a fel­low boarder, whom Kather­ine hires as a lady- in- wait­ing.

But if you know your his­tory, you’ll al­ready know that mat­ters are bound to, um, come to a head even­tu­ally.

The di­a­logue is oc­ca­sion­ally a bit heavy on ex­po­si­tion but a com­bi­na­tion of ex­cel­lent act­ing per­for­mances and clever script­ing lifts The Tu­dors well above the level of your av­er­age pe­riod cos­tume drama. Truth re­ally is, af­ter all, stranger than fic­tion.

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