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The Tudors is an Irish-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 Eire , Working Title Films (United Kingdom) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and is filmed in Irelandmarker. 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 Kingdommarker broadcast rights for the series, which began airing there on 5 October 2007. Canadamarker'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 Braymarker, County Wicklowmarker Ireland, and that season premiered on Showtime on 5 April 2009.

Season Three debuted in the U.S. on Showtime in April 2009 and debuted in Canada on CBC on Sept. 30, 2009. The day after broadcast, downloadable episodes debut in Canada on MoboVivo.

Showtime announced on 13 April 2009 that it had renewed the show for a fourth and final season. The network ordered 10 episodes that are currently scheduled to air starting April 11, 2010.

International distribution rights are owned by Sony Pictures Television International.

Plot summary

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, 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.

Season Four will focus on Henry's "tumultuous relationships with his last two wives, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, and his final descent into madness."


Role Actor Seasons
Henry VIII, The King of England Jonathan Rhys Meyers 1–4
Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk Henry Cavill 1–4
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex James Frain 1–3
Thomas More Jeremy Northam 1–2
Anne Boleyn Natalie Dormer 1–2
Katherine of Aragon Maria Doyle Kennedy 1–2
Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, The Lord Archbishop of York Sam Neill 1
Thomas Howard, The Duke of Norfolk Henry Czerny 1
Sir Anthony Knivert Callum Blue 1
Thomas Wyatt Jamie Thomas King 1–2
Thomas Boleyn, The Earl of Wiltshire Nick Dunning 1–2
Margaret Tudor, The Queen of Portugal Gabrielle Anwar 1
Jane Howard Slaine Kelly 1
Jane Seymour Anita Briem 2
Annabelle Wallis 3
Princess Mary Blathnaid McKeown 1
Sarah Bolger 2–4
Thomas Cranmer, The Archbishop of Canterbury Hans Matheson 2
Pope Paul III, The Bishop of Rome Peter O'Toole 2
Jane Boleyn, Viscountess of Rochford Joanne King 2–4
Edward Seymour Max Brown 2-4
Anne of Cleves Joss Stone 3–4
Anne Stanhope Emma Hamilton 3–4
Earl of Shrewsbury Gavin O'Connor 3
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
Katherine Howard Tamzin Merchant 3–4
Henry Howard David O'Hara 4
Catherine Parr Joely Richardson 4
Philip, Duke of Bavaria Colin O'Donoghue 3


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

Departures from history

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 Leicestermarker en route to Londonmarker 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 mistress 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.

The papal politics depicted in the first several episodes of the series also have no clear relation to actual events. A Pope Alexander is depicted as on his deathbed at the time of the Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting between Henry and Francis (in 1520), whereas the actual pope at that time, Leo X, died suddenly at the very end of 1521, and there had not been a pope named Alexander since 1503, before the beginning of Henry's reign. A Cardinal Orsini is depicted as being elected following the death of the fictional Alexander; in history, Adrian of Utrecht was elected to succeed Leo and, following his death just a year later, was succeeded by Cardinal Medici, who as Pope Clement VII would refuse to permit Henry's divorce.

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. Brereton's assassination attempt on Anne during her coronation procession was also invented by the series.


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, and such partners as Yahoo, MSN, Netflix and IMDB. the numbers exclude contributions from AOL, DirecTV and Dish Network. [420097]

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.). [420098]

Media releases

DVD Name Release dates Ep # Additional Information
Region 1 Region 2
Canada United States
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 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 TBA

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 Tudors was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Drama Series in 2007. Jonathan Rhys Meyers was also nominated for the Best Actor in a Television Drama Golden Globe for his role.

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.


  1. "Showtime's Tudors continues reign." Variety. 12 April 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  2. "A slightly neutered Tudors." The Toronto Star. 28 September 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  3. "Peace Arch(R) Entertainment Announces Renewal of Hit Series The Tudors." 24 April 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  4. "Showtime Orders Season Three of The Tudors." The New York Times. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  6. As established by the series credits and character list on the official website, the character's name is spelled Katherine with a "K" in contrast to the English language spelling "Catherine" usually used for the actual historical figure.
  8. Bellafante, Ginia. "Nasty, but Not So Brutish and Short." The New York Times. 28 March 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  9. Gates, Anita. "The Royal Life (Some Facts Altered)." The New York Times. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  10. Stanley, Alessandra. "Renaissance Romping With Henry and His Rat Pack." The New York Times. 30 March 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  11. It should be noted that there is no historical indication or evidence that Henry's sister Mary Tudor contributed to the death of Louis XII.
  12. The Tudors: The Complete First Season -
  13. The Tudors: Complete BBC Series 1 -
  14. The Tudors: Complete BBC Series 1 (Limited Edition 'Headless' Sleeve) -
  15. The Tudors: Complete BBC Series 1 (Blu-ray) -
  16. The Tudors: The Complete Second Season -
  17. The Tudors DVD news: Delay for The Tudors - The Complete 2nd Season -
  18. The Tudors: Complete BBC Series 2 -
  19. The Tudors: Complete BBC Series 2 (Blu-ray) -
  20. The Tudors: The Complete Third Season - TVShowsOnDVD
  21. The Tudors Season 3 DVD -
  22. The Tudors: Complete Third Series -
  23. The Irish Film & Television Awards: 2008 Winners - Retrieved 12 March 2008.

See also


  • Davies, Norman. The Isles: A History. Oxford Univ. Press, USA, 2001.
  • Ives, Eric. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. Wiley-Blackwell, 2005.

External links

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