Directed by: Various (TV)
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Length: 600 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 19 August 2013
Cat No: ABD1129
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The White Queen: Series 1
Also available on Blu-ray
The complete series of the BBC drama based on the historical novels by Philippa Gregory. Set during the Wars of the Roses, a dynastic... Read More
The BBC’s answer to Game of Thrones has no need for dragons: set in 1464, this ten-part adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s account of the Wars of the Roses features enough historical intrigue and fire-breathing drama without resorting to fantasy (though a little old-fashioned witchcraft always livens things up).
Rebecca Ferguson plays Elizabeth Woodville, a beautiful Lancastrian widow whose chance meeting with Edward IV (Max Irons) leads to an unlikely marriage. The unexpected ascent of the White Queen causes a schism in The House of York between Edward and his scheming cousin, Lord Warwick (James Frain).
The Red Queen, Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale), mother of Henry Tudor, seizes the opportunity and conspires with Warwick, in the hope of putting her son on the throne. Warwick uses his youngest daughter, Anne Neville as an additional pawn against The House of York by wedding her to the Edward of Lancaster.
Irons and Frain will set pulses racing as dashing hero and saturnine villain, respectively, but, fittingly, the actresses dominate: Janet McTeer is superb as Jacquetta, Elizabeth’s mother, whose ambition for her daughter veers into supernatural territory, Hale is fearsome as an equally fanatical matriach, and Ferguson is a serene, ethereally beautiful presence as the central character around which everything revolves.
Shot on location in Belgium, the film's sets, costumes and makeup are lavish (if, like the characters’ teeth and nails, perhaps a little too good to be true). As a historical account, The White Queen would be at home in Downton Abbey; its compelling story is more concerned with the sweep of history than the detail.
The ‘Kings and Queens’ school of history may have fallen out of fashion in the classroom, but retelling the Wars of the Roses from the perspective of the women involved brings fresh interest to the subject, and this big budget series strikes an engrossing balance between soap opera and epic saga.