Five Reasons Why Telly History Kicks Reality’s Ass

August 21, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

TV has felt the need to give us a good history lesson of late.

But this lesson does not come in the form of dry History Channel documentaries on U-boats or Tony Robinson digging up ceramic bowls, oh no.

It’s gloriously serialised, with fabulous costumes, embellished storylines and very frequently peppered with some graphic sexual scenes. For before the days of X-Box and Sudoku, how else would one fill their day?

So with The Tudors gyrating back onto our screens this week, we bring you five reasons why telly history kicks reality’s ass.

Attractive Monarchs

Wouldn’t history lessons have been so much more interesting if the people concerned were more attractive? England’s most infamous monarch Henry VIII was a rotund gentleman who in his later years had got so portly he had to be carried around on a contraption through the widened doors of his abode.

The Henry VIII of BBC’s The Tudors, played by Johnny Rhys Meyers however isn’t bad to look at at all. And beheadings, syphilis and general evilness aside, he definitely has sexual magnetism.

Let’s compare the two:

Yes. Wouldn’t you feel ever-so-slightly better about being offed by the latter Henry before the axe came down on your neck?

Girl Power

The penholders in the writing of history being mostly men, the fairer sex haven’t had much of a look in over the centuries, remaining the silent cogs in the mechanism of time that wears on.

So what better way of putting to bed thousands of years of injustice by lending the heroines of history a voice in a BBC serialisation?

The Beeb’s latest historical drama Desperate Romantics sees the Brotherhood cockfight over the flame-haired muse Lizzie Siddal who refreshingly speaks for herself, and with wit that rivals the boys’. One exchange with Brother Hollman Hunt goes as follows:

“Miss Siddel, you have been posing for me now for two minutes, and you have spoken more than my last model spoke… in six months?

“And what was she wearing??

“She wasn’t. It was a nude study?

“Well I can understand how that might inhibit the easy flow of conversation?.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

Grade-A entertainment

While the BBC like to serve up an historical drama with a large dollop of artistic license, other broadcasters favour a good dose of reality.

HBO’s 2005 TV series about “world’s first civilization? Rome prided itself on being realistic and as true to Ancient Rome as possible.

The result? Caesar’s dwelling is a throbbing metropolis, which by today’s standards, makes some tourist destinations pale into comparison for entertainment.

With walk-in orgies on every door step, and – gasp – legalized smoking of hallucinogens in (enclosed) public places, antiquity’s Rome puts Ibiza, Falliraki, even Amsterdam to shame, and proving itself as the world’s onscreen party capital.

If a hazy gang-bang isn’t your cup of tea, however, there’s a spectacular display of graphic violence at the local arena:

Bitchin’ Threads

In days of yore, pigment was expensive so only the highest nobility would wear bright colour leaving the plebs in drab cotton and breeches.

Although Casanova did come into (and hastily lost) some money in his time, it’s fair to assume his, and everyone else’s threads were never quite so vividly Technicolor as they were in Russell T. Davies’ 2005 drama Casanova.

Meanwhile the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of Desperate Romantics are paving the way for Dandy chic. Although the paintings by the Brotherhood were shunned by the art world, they are bona fide trend-setters.

And speaking of Casanova…

The Men are Men

Oh, Casanova. So he’s played by David Tennant (who disturbingly is a dead ringer for Richard “Hamster? Hammond when he’s running in the following clip), but he’s a fox with a way with words and some formidable action man antics.

Desperate Romantics’ Brotherhood are also proving themselves to be quite the crumpet with their dandiness and witty Victorian chat-up lines. Bring back the days when it was possible to say this with credibility:

“Drink disagrees with me… but I enjoy the argument”.

In reality, and it is often quoted – the most romantic thing a man can do for a woman is the ironing.



Leonie Mercedes

Are are titillated? Are you? Then do read our reviews on lusty The Tudors, or totty-tastic Desperate Romantics.