The TV series The Tudors that ran on the BBC from 2007-2010 was history for Sun readers. It was an extravaganza of tits and arses, full-frontal nudity and lots and lots of sex, that was so historically inaccurate it made even Mel Gibson’s Braveheart look like it was the product of formidable scholarship combined with years of painstaking research. It also kicked off a frenzy of Tudor related books, magazine articles, films and documentaries that flooded the market so much that you still can't turn around without seeing a Farthingale or a Doublet glaring back at you. Now, I like reading about history and watching historical documentaries, but when you’re overwhelmed with one period it eventually becomes tedious. I had a subscription to BBC History Magazine at the time and I became so depressed about the amount of articles that appeared in its pages relating to the Tudors that I was forced to write a letter to the editor. This is what I wrote:
I’ve been a subscriber to BBC History Magazine for some years now and it is usually a fascinating and entertaining periodical. Lately – over the last two years or so – there has been an awful amount of space taken up by articles about the Tudors and, as a result, I am now thoroughly bored with that entire dynasty. This month’s issue (September 2014) contains nine pages about them and, as if that wasn’t enough, there’s an advertisement pushing a 116 page Collector’s Edition, The Story of the Tudors. There is a wealth of international history you can chose from – particularly the Middle East, India and the United States and other periods of our own history – so why not find some historians who are not interested in the Tudors and utilise them instead. As much as I agree that the reign of the Tudors was an important part of our history and the development of our national identity, I am now sick and tired of discovering that yet another article about them has been featured in your magazine and I’m fairly sure that I’m not the only reader who feels this way. Please stop it or give your magazine a new title – something like Tudor Monthly would be appropriate.
I received the following reply a few days ago.
Dear Mr Mitchell,
Thank you for your message. I’m glad to see that in general you find the magazine interesting.
I’m sorry that you’re unhappy with the amount of Tudor content. It is a tricky balancing act for us because Tudors are hugely popular with our readership and I feel that we do have to serve that demand to some extent. On the other hand I appreciate that not everyone is as interested and so we do our best to balance each issue so that it has a range of content.
Regarding the collector’s edition, this is part of a series that we put out on various aspects of British and global history. It just so happened that this one was on the Tudors but none of the previous ones were and nor are any of those planned for the future. Similarly, there isn’t currently a great deal of Tudor content planned in for the next few editions of the regular magazine, so I hope you will persevere with us.
It was a nicely written reply that missed the irony in my letter and was so boring and lacking in humour that I immediately cancelled my subscription.
Too be honest, I’m more interested in the Second World War, although my wife doesn’t share that interest.
When I was watching a documentary about the Battle of Britain, she asked, “Why are you watching this?”
“Because I’m interested in it,” I replied.
“But, you know what happens in the end.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do. We won.”
Yesterday I found a handwritten letter from her on the bedside table. It read:
I’ve been married to you for some years now and you are sometimes a fascinating and entertaining person. Lately – over the last eighteen years or so – there has been an awful amount of films and documentaries about the Second World War on television and, as a result, I am now thoroughly bored with that entire period. This month you watched nine programmes about it and, as if that wasn’t enough, you read Antony Beevor’s D-Day and reread Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. There is a wealth of other genres you can choose from – particularly contemporary fiction, classic novels and books about other periods of history – so why not find some programmes or books that are not about the Second World War and watch or read them instead. As much as I agree that the Second World War was an important part of international history and the development of our modern world, I am now sick and tired of discovering that you are watching yet another programme about the war and I’m fairly sure that I’m not the only family member who feels this way. Please stop it or find something else to think about – something like a divorce would be appropriate.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe I have been watching and reading too much about the Second World War. Maybe I should take a break and watch something else.
What’s on tonight?
Hmm, Apocalypse Now.
That’s not about the Second World War.
And it’s the Redux version.