TV review: The White Queen is less historically plausible than Game of Thrones (despite being ostensibly true)

The White Queen, Sun, BBC1 // Goodbye Granadalan, Sayt, ITV

Dedicated fans of Game of Thrones may have got a sense of déjà vu as they watched the opening of The White Queen, BBC1’s new Sunday-night costume drama.

It wasn’t just that there’s a faint Throney feel to the layered credit sequence for Emma Frost’s series (adapted from Philippa Gregory’s historical novels), and a faint echo of its credit music too. But the scene that followed – a fugitive running through a snow-covered forest – was very similar in mood to the first one ever seen in HBO’s fantasy epic. Was this by accident or design? Well, it must surely have occurred to somebody that an audience with a taste for late-medieval trappings and courtly plotting might find Plantagenet dynastic skulduggery to their taste as well. But if it was intended as bait, and if any Game of Thrones fans took it, I don’t think it will be long before they spit out the hook. Not only is The White Queen unforgivably light on dragons, it also strikes you as considerably less historically plausible than Game of Thrones, despite being based on real events.

The white queen of the title is Lady Elizabeth, who we first encounter waking from a bad dream in her loft apartment, an open-plan living space with a very World of Interiors feel to it (she appears to have sourced her gauzy curtains from the Kingdom of Ikea). It’s 1464 and Elizabeth is in a bit of a spot, her Lancastrian husband having been killed in battle and his lands confiscated. Elizabeth isn’t the type of woman to mope, though. So having Googled the king’s processional route northwards, she arranges herself as a comely roadblock to plead for justice and restitution. Edward – still strictly speaking only a King Finalist at this stage of the war – pulls off his helm to reveal that he’s an absolute hottie. Despite the disapproval of his sarcastic sidekick Lord Warwick, and despite the fact that Elizabeth is just a commoner, Edward decides to have a crack at her, his lust only increased by her spirited defence of her virtue. “I have to have you,” he pants. “And if you will not be my mistress you have to marry me.”

What Edward doesn’t know is that Elizabeth does have real pedigree. “We are descended from the river goddess Melusina,” her mother, Jacqetta, tells her. “Magic is in our blood.” Jacquetta (played with a commendably straight face by Janet McTeer) has primed a local pond with an elaborate kind of lottery game, and after Elizabeth has picked one of several threads that disappear into its depths, she pulls out  a crown-shaped ring. This comes in handy when Edward forgets to bring one to the secret ceremony in the woodland chapel at which the two are married, though it’s a moment you can’t help feeling might have given them both pause for thought. Her: “You forgot the ring! Is your heart really in this?” Him: “Crown-shaped? Seriously? Are you sure you’re marrying me for me?” Nobody but Edward and Elizabeth approve of this relationship. Her brothers glower furiously, still consumed with Lancastrian fervour. And Lord Warwick, who’s spent months arranging diplomatic nuptials with a French princess, spits tacks when he finds out. I’m sure it will give innocent pleasure to many, but a lot of cod had to sacrifice their wallops to make it possible.

Goodbye Granadaland, a clip-show celebration marking the closure of the original Granada studios in Manchester, featured the word “iconic” more often than was comfortable,  but delivered an enjoyable nostalgic wallow  all the same. Peter Kay presented and a roster of stars, from the soapy to the serious, rhapsodised about the studio’s boldness and creativity in its heyday. Highlight? Ena Sharples, in the very first episode of Coronation Street, giving her verdict on a rival Manchester thoroughfare. “Esmeralda Street, eh?” she says scornfully to a new arrival.“They’re very bay window down there.”

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness