The Anne Boleyn Society Reviews Episode Three of BBC’s WOLF HALL

by James Peacock

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Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company
Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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Video Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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This week has seen the debate around historical accuracy and the portrayel of the characters on the popular BBC Two series reach fever pitch, with two Catholic Bishops criticising the portrayel of their Saint Thomas Moore, whilst Susan Bordo, author of  The Creation Of Anne Boleyn adding a rationale side to the debate in her article for the Huffington Post.

We are now at the half way mark of the series, and this week it seems that character development has finally kicked into gear! It was a welcome sight to have a scene with Katherine of Aragon and Princess Mary (even if Mary appeared a little too frail and over-sickly), showing Katherine’s firmness, and a slight snobberriness towards our Master Cromwell.

Anne finally gets a bit more development in this episode, and at least doesn’t come across as 100% of an evil bitch for a change. Her relationship with Cromwell gets more development in this episode, and we see a bit more of the Cromwell and Anne partnership from historical sources. The odd flirty relationship between Cromwell and Mary Boleyn- who is still portrayed as a giggly, ditsy, bimbo, is still just as perplexing, and at this rate a kiss at least, would not be surprising. Cromwell in fact, seems to be a bit of a ladies man in this series, he and his sister-in-law holding a flame for each other- and the dream of fondling Anne’s breasts, whilst they watch Thomas More resign.

Early on in the episode, during the vote in parliament of Cromwell’s law in regards to the King being head of the Church of England, the changing of sides of those voting in favour or against, shows the all to uncanny constant switching of sides of those who simply wish to stay on the right side of the King- and keep their heads!!

The Seymour’s get more attention this week, albeit more through mentions then screen time, with the gossip of Sir John Seymour and his son Edward’s wife, getting naughty in the sack- but perhaps Anne shouldn’t dismiss that ‘pasty faced milksop’ Jane too quickly- even Jane gets another scene this week, too.

Glimpses of other characters are seen to help prop up the story, the “Holy Maid of Kent” or “Mad Maid of Kent” drops by to give her prophecies against Henry’s Union with Anne. William Stafford, Mary Boleyn’s next beau, makes a brief appearence, and of course, Anne’s former flame Henry Percy, who’s wife is seeking annulment from him over a supposed pre-contract with Anne- who receives a heavying from Cromwell into denying a pre-contract exists.

Unfortunately the Calais scenes don’t go into much depth, or show the importance of such a visit, though it does seem to give Henry the supposed kick he’s been needing, into finally pledging himself to Anne.

The episode rounds itself off with Anne’s major triumph- her marriage to the King, and subsequent lavish Coronation as Queen of England. We leave Anne in fact, heavily pregnant, going into that dreary, Tudor style confinement, awaiting the birth of the much hoped for Prince.

The immaculate settings and scenery of the Tudor homes and gardens, continues to steal the breath of viewers, most definitely one of the most accurate settings for historical dramas, in the last 40 years.

Perhaps some, including myself, have been a bit hard of certain aspects of Wolf Hall so far. Perhaps Cromwell and Anne, despite working closely in the beginning, where always a little wary of the other. It is easy after all, to judge history backwards. How could a relationship of two, that once worked so closely together, have turned so sour so easily? One things for sure, Wolf Hall is providing debate and interest in the Tudor period and its people- heck, even I’ve benefited thanks to BBC Two re-tweeting some of my tweets on Twitter, gaining me followers.

Anne, Cromwell, More and Wolsey may have been dead and disgraced over 400 years ago, but their memory is refusing to die with them — surely much to Henry’s chargin.

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James Peacock

I run The Anne Boleyn Society, which I set up in 2014. Over the years the society has grown tremendously and there are accounts on Facebook, Instagram (@society_anne) and Twitter (@Society_Anne). With over 20,000 followers, the society aims to debate and discuss the life and times of Queen Anne Boleyn while taking into account the period in which she lived in.

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