Promotional poster for The Tudors
|Created by||Michael Hirst|
|Starring||Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Maria Doyle Kennedy
Jamie Thomas King
Alan van Sprang
Special Guest Star
Max von Sydow
|Theme music composer||Trevor Morris|
|Country of origin||Ireland
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||28 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Michael Hirst
|Running time||approx. 55 min.|
|Original channel||TV3 Ireland
|Picture format||16x9 widescreen ratio|
|Original airing||1 April 2007 - present|
The Tudors is a joint Irish/Canadian-produced historical fiction television series created by Michael Hirst. The series is based upon the reign of English monarch Henry VIII, and is named after the Tudor dynasty.
The series is produced by Peace Arch Entertainment for Showtime in association with Reveille Productions, Working Title Films, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and is filmed in Ireland. The first two episodes debuted on DirecTV, Time Warner Cable OnDemand, Netflix, Verizon FiOS On Demand, Internet Movie Database and on the series' website before the official series premiere on Showtime. The Tudors' premiere on 1 April 2007 was the highest rated Showtime series in three years. In April 2007, the show was renewed for a second season, and in that month the BBC announced it had acquired exclusive United Kingdom broadcast rights for the series, which began airing there on 5 October 2007. Canada's CBC began broadcasting the show on 2 October 2007.
Season Two debuted on Showtime on 30 March 2008, and on BBC 2 on 1 August 2008. Production on Season Three began on 16 June 2008 in Bray, County Wicklow Ireland, and that season premiered on Showtime on 5 April 2009.
International distribution rights are owned by Sony Pictures Television International.
Season One of The Tudors chronicles the period of Henry VIII's reign in which his effectiveness as King is tested by international conflicts as well as political intrigue in his own court, while the pressure of fathering a male heir compels him to reject his wife Katherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn. He also has a string of affairs, and fathers a son, Henry, by Elizabeth Blount.
Season Two finds Henry as the head of the Church of England, the result of his break with the Catholic Church over its refusal to grant him a divorce from Katherine. During his battle with Rome, he secretly marries a pregnant Anne. Anne's own failure to produce a son dooms her as Henry's attention shifts toward Jane Seymour.
Season Three focuses on Henry's marriages to Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, the birth of his son Edward VI, his ruthless suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, and the beginnings of Henry's relationship with the "dangerous" Katherine Howard.
|Henry VIII of England||Jonathan Rhys Meyers||1–4|
|The King's Wives|
|Katherine of Aragon||Maria Doyle Kennedy||1–2, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Anne Boleyn||Natalie Dormer||1–2, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Jane Seymour||Anita Briem||2|
|Annabelle Wallis||3, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Anne of Cleves||Joss Stone||3–4 (Dream sequence included in series 4)|
|Katherine Howard||Tamzin Merchant||3–4 (Dream sequence included in series 4)|
|Catherine Parr||Joely Richardson||4 (Dream sequence included in series 4)|
|The King's Court|
|Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk||Henry Cavill||1–4|
|Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex,||James Frain||1–3|
|Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, The Lord Archbishop of York||Sam Neill||1|
|Thomas More||Jeremy Northam||1–2|
|Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk||Henry Czerny||1|
|Sir Anthony Knivert||Callum Blue||1|
|Earl of Shrewsbury||Gavin O'Connor||3|
|Thomas Wyatt||Jamie Thomas King||1–2|
|Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire||Nick Dunning||1–2|
|Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury||Hans Matheson||2|
|Edward Seymour||Max Brown||2-4|
|Philip, Duke of Bavaria||Colin O'Donoghue||3|
|Margaret Tudor, The Queen of Portugal||Gabrielle Anwar||1|
|Jane Howard||Slaine Kelly||1|
|Princess Mary||Blathnaid McKeown||1|
|Pope Paul III||Peter O'Toole||2|
|Jane Boleyn, Viscountess of Rochford||Joanne King||2–4|
|Anne Stanhope||Emma Hamilton||3–4|
|Stephen Gardiner||Simon Ward||3-4|
|Sir Francis Bryan||Alan van Sprang||3–4|
|Otto Truchsess von Waldburg||Max von Sydow||3|
|Sir John Hutton||Roger Ashton-Griffiths||3|
|Robert Aske||Gerard McSorley||3|
|Reginald Cardinal Pole||Mark Hildreth||3|
|Lord Darcy||Colm Wilkinson||3|
|Henry Howard||David O'Hara||4|
|Joan Bulmer||Catherine Steadman||4|
|Thomas Culpeper||Torrance Coombs||4|
|Season||# of episodes||Season premiere||Season finale|
|Season 1||10||1 April 2007||10 June 2007|
|Season 2||10||30 March 2008||1 June 2008|
|Season 3||8||5 April 2009||24 May 2009|
|Season 4||10||11 April 2010||TBA 2010|
Events in the series differ from events as they actually happened in history. Liberties are taken with character names, relationships, physical appearance and the timing of events. As creator Hirst noted, "Showtime commissioned me to write an entertainment, a soap opera, and not history ... And we wanted people to watch it." He added that some changes were made for production considerations and some to avoid viewer confusion, and that "any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures."
Time is conflated in the series, giving the impression that things happened closer together than they actually did or along a different timeline. By the time of most of the events in this series, King Henry VIII was already in his mid-to-late 30s and at least a decade older than Anne Boleyn; they were not married until he was in his early 40s. In The Tudors, the two are cast younger (and seemingly closer in age) and the courtship lasts about ten episodes. Historically, Cardinal Wolsey died in Leicester en route to London to answer charges of treason, while in the series he is imprisoned and commits suicide (though the fictional Henry insists that this be covered up). Wolsey's death came in 1530, three years before the death of Henry's sister; in the series, the two events are juxtaposed.
The character of Henry's sister, called "Princess Margaret" in the series, is actually a composite of his two sisters: the life events of his youngest sister, Princess Mary Tudor, coupled with the name of his eldest sister, Margaret Tudor, to avoid confusion with Henry's daughter, Mary I of England. Historically, Henry's sister Princess Mary first married the French King Louis XII. The union lasted approximately three months, until his death; Louis was succeeded by his cousin Francis I, who was married to Louis' daughter Claude of France. Mary subsequently married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. As The Tudors begins, Henry is already negotiating a peace treaty with Francis; the series' Princess Margaret thus marries a fictional Portuguese king, who lives only a few days until she smothers him in his sleep. By the time of the events of this series, the historical Brandon (who was already in his early 40s) and Princess Mary were long married with three children, and Henry's eldest sister, Margaret Tudor, was actually married to King James IV of Scotland and became the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots.
While Bessie Blount was famously one of Henry VIII's mistresses and did give Henry an illegitimate son (Henry FitzRoy), historically her son did not die as a small child, but instead at the age of 17 in 1536. Blount was also not married until after the birth of FitzRoy. Historically, William Brereton did not confess to adultery with Queen Anne and was not a Papal agent, as depicted in the series. He was in fact a wealthy magnate who had large landholdings in the Welsh Marches, where he was ruthless and unpopular, and is believed to have been accused due to Thomas Cromwell's desire to remove a festering political problem. The assassination attempt on Anne during her coronation procession was also invented by Hirst "to illustrate how much the English people hated her."
The premiere of The Tudors on 1 April 2007 was the highest rated Showtime series debut in three years, and on 23 March 2008 The New York Times called The Tudors a "steamy period drama ... which critics could take or leave but many viewers are eating up." A 28 March 2008 review also by the Times said that the series "fails to live up to the great long-form dramas cable television has produced" largely because "it radically reduces the era's thematic conflicts to simplistic struggles over personal and erotic power." Overall, the show has had generally good reviews with 64% favourable reviews for the first season, 68% for the second season and 72% for the third season according to the ratings site Metacritic.
In the United States, season 1: The series premiere at 10 p.m. drew almost 870,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Coupled with the 404,000 viewers that tuned in the hour immediately following, Showtime averaged 1.3 million viewers for the show’s debut night, the most since Fat Actress in March 2005. The 10 p.m. bow outperformed the inaugural linear screenings for Weeds and Dexter, the network’s leading comedy and drama, by 78% in August 2005 and 44% in October 2006, respectively.
The series also proved its mettle opener in the digital realm, earning a combined 1 million views online and on-demand via cable affiliates and through Sho.com, and such partners as Yahoo, MSN, Netflix and IMDB. the numbers exclude contributions from AOL, DirecTV and Dish Network. 
Season 2: Showtime’s June 3, 2008 second-season climax of The Tudors ended with a ratings bang. The episode drew 852,000 viewers for its season two finale, 83% above the 465,000 viewers that tuned into the show’s season-one finale, Showtime officials said. The 9 p.m. telecast is also the second-highest for the series, trailing only the 964,000 viewers for the show’s April 1, 2007 debut. The season-two finale, along with an 11 p.m. replay, drew a combined 1 million viewers, 59% above last year’s 668,000 combined audience for last year’s finale (10 p.m. and 11 p.m.). 
|DVD Name||Release dates||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Region 1||Region 2|
|Season One||8 January 2008||10 December 2007||10||The four discs box set includes all 10 episodes. Bonus features include commentary tracks on selected episodes. There is a special edition in United Kingdom, with a headless picture for the cover, exclusive of Amazon.co.uk. This season was released on Blu-ray in Europe and Canada.|
|Season Two||11 November 2008||6 January 2009||13 October 2008||10||The four disc box set includes all 10 episodes. Bonus features include commentary tracks on selected episodes, as well as other featurettes. This season has also been released on Blu-ray in Europe and Canada.|
|Season Three||10 November 2009||15 December 2009||7 December 2009||8||The three disc box set includes all 8 episodes. Bonus features include audio commetary on certain episodes, an exclusive tour of Hampton Court and an interview with Joss Stone|
An original soundtrack with music composed by Trevor Morris was released by Varese Sarabande on 11 December 2007. The soundtrack for the second season, also composed by Trevor Morris, was released 14 April 2009.
The series was nominated for eight Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008 and won seven, including Best Drama Series, acting awards for Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Lead Actor), Nick Dunning (Supporting Actor) and Maria Doyle Kennedy (Supporting Actress), and craft awards for Costume Design, Production Design and Hair/Makeup. Brian Kirk was also nominated for Directing, but lost to Lenny Abrahamson of Prosperity. The series won the 2008 Emmy Award for Best Costume Design, and later six awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2009.