She Wolves: England's Early Queens... TV Review

Funny story written by Ellis Ian Fields

Thursday, 8 March 2012

image for She Wolves: England's Early Queens... TV Review
Our playing cards are based on a pattern from Rouen, which featured in this programme. Bet you didn't know that.

Ken Lucid gave the book She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled Engand Before Elizabeth the thumbs-up when it was published in 2010.

Now Dr Helen Castor has turned her effort into a three-part series for BBC4, and this first programme focussed on Matilda and Eleanor of Aquitaine. It seemed only natural to ask Prof Lucid to cast his eye over results...

Thank heavens for BBC4! It's the only place you can see half-decent, proper history these days.

I mean look at what this new show was up against at 9pm on a Wednesday: the so-called History Channel offered Swamp People (new series - oh joy!); Yesterday thought it was a good idea to show some old piece about trying to identify Jack The Ripper; and the Discovery Channel had American Chopper, something about building motor cycles, apparently.

Given Jeremy Paxman's currently deconstructing the Whig view of history in Empire on Mondays (thanks Jeremy, that's all new to me... not!), I suppose we historians are being pretty well served by Auntie (though why they didn't ask me to do the Paxo job I can only guess).

Helen Castor's got a great grasp of her subject - as she showed in the book - and she's a bit of a looker on screen, too. Let's face it, that always helps.

She's a new star of TV history. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Bettany Hughes (the more lookers doing history on TV the better), but Dr Castor seems less like she's trying to persuade us of an opinion, more that she knows what's what and that's that. It's up to us, as viewers, to be alive and challenge if we we're not sure of her position.

You know what they ought to do next? Get that bird Amanda Foreman who wrote about the US Civil War and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire to do a programme or two.

More history on TV! More women doing it! I think my head will explode if I have to watch Schama or Starkey holding forth any more.

Ken Lucid is Herodotus Chair of History at Hounslow University.

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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