Philippa Gregory has confirmed she is in talks with Starz to produce “Season Two” of The White Queen. While The White Queen show began as a co-production between the BBC and US company Starz, the BBC never intended to go beyond one season, treating it as a mini-series. Starz is hoping to develop The White Princess, the fifth novel in the best-selling Cousins’ War series.
Obviously the show has been more popular in the United States than the United Kingdom. A spokesman for Starz says American audiences are more forgiving than their British cousins when it came to historical inaccuracies. That may be the case, but American audiences may not have been as forgiving with the toned-down sex scenes the BBC presented in the UK version of The White Queen.
The Daily Mail dubbed the Starz version “The Blue Queen!” In an article comparing the far more explicit sex scenes shown on American television than on British television, Chris Hastings said “American audiences, it seems, prefer our dramas without the costumes.”
Young (and young-looking) Faye Marsay, who played Anne Neville, said of the sex scenes “I looked at them and went ‘wow’. Because it’s my first job and I’ve never done them before, but it’s important to the story.” Apparently, the producers feel that “important to the story” included Cecily Woodville being shown topless while taking a bath.
You can read the full article “The Blue Queen!” at The Daily Mail. Warning, contains extensive nudity, but it is hysterically funny.
Interestingly Philippa’s sex scenes in The Cousins’ War novels are more of the cut-to-the-fireplace sort. So what can we expect from The White Princess TV series, besides more nudity?
The White Princess is one of the bleakest books in The Cousins’ War series. It is an observation of the early years of the new Tudor Dynasty, but it is also an observation of a marriage. There is a great deal in this book that can be exploited. I’m not going into spoilers, but there is a rather scandalous start to the book that I can’t imagine is going to come across on screen well at all. Philippa Gregory unfairly demonised Henry Tudor. Historical inaccuracy doesn’t usually annoy me a great deal, but completely fabricated inflammatory incidents, which will probably start to be repeated as fact, do not sit well with me.
Now if you’ve seen the finale of The White Queen you know Elizabeth’s younger brother Richard will factor into the next series. Returning characters would likely include the children of Isabel and George, Edward and Margaret Plantagenet. Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Stanley still have important roles in the story. For plotting, treachery and rebellion, The White Princess will satisfy you well enough. The Tudors did not have an easy start to their reign.
My favourite aspect of the novel, however, was the relationship between Henry and Elizabeth (after the first quarter anyway). The concept of an arranged marriage is quite alien to some of us, yet at the time necessary for a dynastic marriage. Watching the relationship between Henry and Elizabeth unfold and grow over the years is fascinating. The novel also explores the impact of the constant dangers and rebellions on their marriage and on Elizabeth’s relationship with her mother, her mother-in-law and sisters. These are the subtle nuances that give the story its strength: the explorations of love, family and sacrifice. It is also probably what will get lost in translation in the screen adaptation.
The White Princess is the best story of The Cousins’ War so far. It leaves behind the whimsy of its predecessors; it is gritty and real and its characters are better realised. I am expecting even better things from Philippa Gregory’s next book, The Last Rose. Starz will have to pull out all the stops to get the next series up to scratch. If they get it right, it will be compelling viewing.
By Olga Hughes. Olga enjoys Philippa Gregory and history, to the horror of many. She runs the online magazine Nerdalicious (http://nerdalicious.com.au/) with her partner C.S. Hughes. Olga also writes book reviews at the blog for her bookstore, Crickhollow Books. http://crickhollowbooks.com.au/blog/