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Masterpiece (PBS/BBC) Favorites of a More Recent Vintage – Jan 8, 2021

Two for Damian: Wolf Hall and The Forsyte Saga

by Matthew Gilbert | Boston Globe | January 7, 2021

Here are some of my favorite Masterpiece shows, in no particular order. I have restricted the list to those that have aired in the past 25 years, which is why you won’t see the well-known classics, including I, Claudius, The Jewel in the Crown, House of Cards, Elizabeth R, or Prime Suspect.

Wolf Hall (2015)

Based on Hilary Mantel’s Henry VIII novels, the mesmerizing six-parter takes place from the point of view of the King’s most trusted advisor, Thomas Cromwell, played by a quietly sardonic Mark Rylance. This isn’t the bodice-ripping, horse-hopping likes of Showtime’s The Tudors; it’s elegant, downbeat, authentically lit, intensely acted, and clever and relevant when it comes to 16th-century politics. Damian Lewis is Henry, Jonathan Pryce is Cardinal Wolsey, and Claire Foy is Anne Boleyn.

Continue reading Masterpiece (PBS/BBC) Favorites of a More Recent Vintage – Jan 8, 2021

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In the Realm of TV Entertainment, Royal Dramas Reign – Feb 28, 2019

Fans of Royal TV

by Matthew Gilbert | Boston Globe | February 28, 2019

I’m a sucker for the royal dramas. They marry history to warped family dynamics, and they’re generally quite pretty and transporting. They’re like “Succession,” HBO’s Murdoch family send-up, except with a majestic makeover, more servants, and at least one crown. There’s treachery, there are big castles, and at the center of it all there is the distorted psychology of a person who has inherited, not necessarily earned, a position closer to God than we mere mortals.

These shows are just what the Anglophile TV doctor ordered, a spot of tea as the cure for the uncountably many grim crime-solving dramas and superhero spectacles elsewhere on the schedule. For some viewers, royal dramas, like period novel adaptations, are too staid, too mired in the subtleties of their indirect exchanges to be entertaining. But for me, it’s fascinating to watch lives constrained by rigid social and dynastic rules, as messy human needs struggle against ancient policies. Things can get ugly around the palace, for sure, but most of the time the messes are hidden behind an elegant veneer of dignity.

Continue reading In the Realm of TV Entertainment, Royal Dramas Reign – Feb 28, 2019

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Damian Reveals Why He Didn’t Fatten Up for Henry VIII – Jan 12, 2015

Homeland star Damian Lewis reveals why he didn’t fatten up for upcoming BBC Tudor drama 

by Nicola Agius – DailyMail – January 12, 2015


When the new BBC drama Wolf Hall starts in two weeks’ time, audiences may have a slight issue with the show’s leading man.

Damian Lewis, who plays Henry VIII in the Tudor drama series, appears to be in much better shape than the historic royal ever was, making his portrayal potentially somewhat unrealistic.

However, during an interviewin this weeks Radio Times, the Homeland revealed that there actually wasn’t any need for him to fatten up for the role.

‘The truth is, though it might be an odd thing to mention, Henry had a 32 inch waist – and he remained that way for quite some time,’ the star explained.

‘He was the top sportsman in his court!’

Speaking to Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine about the challenge of portraying such a historic figure, the actor revealed that a road traffic accident he was involved in during his twenties inspired his performance.

According to Lewis, the royal turned from a charismatic prince to an obese tyrant after a jousting accident in 1536. Reflecting on the devastating incident, the actor explained that the transformation somewhat mirrored his own life.

Continue reading Damian Reveals Why He Didn’t Fatten Up for Henry VIII – Jan 12, 2015