The Tudors: Season One

Review by CJ

Charles McDougall, Steve Shill, Brian Kirk, Alison MacLean, Ciaran Donnelly

Michael Hirst

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sam Neill, Natalie Dormer, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Henry Cavill, Gabrielle Anwar, Callum Blue, Kris Holden-Reid

Other notable appearances:
Ruta Gedmintas, Perdita Weeks, Steven Waddington, Henry Czerny, Nick Dunning, Joe Van Moyland, James Frain, Jamie Thomas King, Jeremy Northam, Fiona Ryan

Running time:
47-54 minutes

Number of episodes:


The young King of England, Henry VIII seeks to annul his marriage to first wife Queen Catherine (Kennedy) to marry new love Anne Boleyn (Dormer); starts wars and brokers treaties with various countries; and is led from ploy to ploy by his Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Neill).

You know how, when you watch TV shows and movies, you get frustrated by the stupid or cruel things the characters do? It’s so much more frustrating when the characters and their actions are based on real people and events.

Henry VIII is a historical figure mostly known for his love affairs and separating the English Church from Rome. While the main focus of the first season is his desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, it also shows a King who has fears, hopes, love (though no respect) for his daughter and a wildly petulant temperament.

Meyers does a great job of portraying the King’s dynamic nature. The stand out performance though is Neill’s portrayal of Cardinal Wolsey. The duplicity and smarminess of the character is a far cry from, in my mind at least, Neill’s most famous role — Alan Grant in Jurassic Park.

The costumes in The Tudors are gorgeously made and breathtakingly beautiful to look at. From the mens’ 16th century apparel to the ladies’ dresses and the holy mens’ robes, everything is visually effective.

There are a lot of characters introduced and a lot of moving parts in season one of The Tudors. My hope is that all of these characters have importance as the series progresses and that it isn’t just bloated to fill temporary gaps or due to a lack of script editing.

While the story is enjoyable, it can be difficult to remain engaged due to the number of things happening, the repetitive arguments characters have and the tiresome behaviour of Henry VIII.

The Tudors is a good representation of historical dramas in television. While it has its repetitive moments and can feel padded at times, season one of The Tudors is an educational, if fictionalised, look at events surrounding Henry VIII’s life while he was seeking to divorce his first wife. Recommended for viewers who enjoy historical dramas, English dramas or both and don’t mind a generous helping of nudity or sex scenes.


“I don’t mean that he’s banished forever. Just as long as he breathes.”

2 replies »

  1. I have seen this series a couple of times. I love the costumes, the intrigue, and the ways of truth so many years ago. The series only gets better. And its fun to see some of today’s big actors and actresses in this piece from years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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