Almost Doctor Who:
The Tudors

TV Oh, The Tudors.  Having managed to miss the first two seasons, I finally cottoned on to The Tudors after visited the British Library’s Henry VIII: Man and Monarch exhibition in 2009. I’d been enthralled by seeing the original documents and costumes, as I said at the time, “the notes scribbled between Henry and Anne Boleyn during services, the divorce papers from Katherine of Aragon, the material which led to the dissolution of the English church from Rome, innumerable peace treaties and, by the way, the chain Henry is seen wearing in the famous Holbein painting”. As often happens, I quickly watched all the documentaries I had stored, listened to a radio adaptation of Shakespeare’s All Is True and ultimately making a purchase at Amazon.

I was horrified. I knew that creator Michael Hurst had taken some liberties with the historical record, but having become an instant expect (I’d also read the exhibition catalogue), I couldn’t understand why Henry sister’s Margaret had been merged with Mary, why she was married off to some Portuguese monarch who hadn't existed who she subsequently murdered, why they’d bothered to mess about with the circumstances of Cardinal Wolsey’s death and why that happens at much the same time as the death of Henry’s fictional sister. For all the work which had apparently gone into creating the sumptuous costumes and settings, other “errors” big and small distracted from the achievement.

Eventually, I had to rationalise some kind of coping mechanism and as you might have gathered, it was, like Outcasts, to assume that I was watching the version of Henry VIII’s life as it appears in the Doctor Who universe. The franchise has always had a very loose approach to historical accuracy right from Marco Polo referring to Peking instead of Khan-balik, which means a series that actually shows Tudor composing Greensleeves should fit right in, even if some of his sexual antics would be enough to make Captain Jack blush (assuming he isn't already engrossed). After that realisation it was entirely possible to swallow even the most basic of changes, especially in later years when Hirst seemed to stop trying and even resorted to including ghosts.

Of course most period dramas with a dodgy grip on history could fit in the Whoniverse.  But there's something rather unique about The Tudors, its production design, direction and writing as close an analogue to nuWho as similar shows were to classic Who which would regularly re-utilise the costumes.  Certainly to look at a piece like The Nine Days' Queen section of SJA's Lost in Time, is to watch Who attempting to live up to the sumptuousness of The Tudors on a tiny budget.  Perhaps the connection is more even more tenuous than Outcasts, but if nuWho ever does manage to produce a pure historical, The Tudors is something to aspire to.  With slightly less lechery.

As you might expect, the Doctor’s met Henry VIII on a few occasions. In The Sensorites its mentioned that he and Susan being sent to the tower on purpose because that was were the TARDIS was located. In a Short Trip, the Doctor and Nyssa stopped Henry marrying the daughter of Lord Cromwell as time went out of wack then later in his timestream but earlier for the King, in the Big Finish audio Recorded Time, Henry takes a shine to Peri and decides to make her his wife instead of Anne Bolyn. I wonder what he would have thought about the Doctor later effectively becoming his son in law after marrying Liz I.  Not that she would have been born if he's had his way with King Ycarnos's future wife.

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