news Blood, Sex & Royalty review – a terrific peek at Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s sexiest bits | Television
I don't know how optimists manage, I really don't. Surely having your hopes constantly dashed – by life, humanity, and rail timetables – is a wearing way to move through the
world? A constant abrading of the soul. Pessimists, however, have got it made. We go through life either having our worldview satisfyingly confirmed or delightfully overturned.
Honestly, it's great! Join us! Low expectations are the key to happiness.For example – when you greet me with the news that Netflix is dropping a three-part docudrama
called Blood, Sex & Royalty, dramatizing all the sexiest parts of the Henry VIII-Anne Boleyn saga and documenting the facts via historian talking heads, I naturally assume the
cringe-making, effortful, down-with-the-kidz worst of both worlds. I expect fatuous reconstructions of key moments in history by actors embarrassed to be there, in costumes one
notch up from school-play quality. I anticipate them spouting lines typed by a monkey who has seen a few episodes of The Tudors and been given a banana and an hour at a desk to do
its best. I am certain that there will be interviewees trying to hide their expertise and knowledge – as instructed by the producers – so as not to frighten the horses. I
presume that there will, in short, be badness.Well. Well! Consider my worldview delightfully overturned and my low expectations joyfully exceeded! Blood, Sex & Royalty is terrific.
No, it's not Wolf Hall meets AJP Taylor (and thank goodness – who could possibly have the mental bandwidth to cope with that in the year of our Lord 2022?). But the drama bits
are intelligent, vivid, energetic, funny, full-blooded and good-hearted, with almost universally brilliant performances. Amy James-Kelly as Anne is the standout, making Boleyn
fresh, hilarious and believable. She is enabled and supported by a script that, like Blackadder in a minor key, manages to modernize and distil the essence of people, politics and
plot in a way that snaps you awake and makes you see the old story anew. “King of France, patron of the arts,” she says wryly, looking over at Francis I disporting himself in a
manner unbecoming. “And banging my sister.” The options on offer for women are swiftly encapsulated. “Everywhere I looked women were getting screwed. By cheating husbands,
controlling husbands, gambling husbands. Or you could be a mistress. Screwed with no husband.”I'm not going to quote any more lines out of full context. I worry that they sound
merely glib when, in fact – embedded in the scenes amid the explanations and expansions provided by the likes of professors Tracy Borman and Suzannah Lipscomb, and doctors Lauren