|Created by||Michael Hirst|
|Written by||Michael Hirst|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||38 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||47–56 minutes|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television (non-US)|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||1 April 2007 –|
20 June 2010
The Tudors is a historical fiction television series set primarily in 16th-century England, created and written by Michael Hirst and produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime. The series was a collaboration among American, British, and Canadian producers, and was filmed mostly in Ireland. It is named after the Tudor dynasty as a whole, although it is based specifically upon the reign of King Henry VIII.
The series was produced by Peace Arch Entertainment for Showtime in association with Reveille Productions, Working Title Television, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and was filmed in Ireland. The first two episodes debuted on DirecTV, Time Warner Cable OnDemand, Netflix, Verizon FiOS On Demand, Internet Movie Database and on the website of the series before the official premiere on Showtime. The Tudors premiered on 1 April 2007; it 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 broadcast rights for the series in the United Kingdom, which it started to broadcast on 5 October 2007. The 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 Bray, County Wicklow Ireland, and that season premiered on Showtime on 5 April 2009, and debuted in Canada on CBC on 30 September 2009. The day after broadcast, downloadable episodes debuted in Canada on MoboVivo.
Showtime announced 13 April 2009, that it had renewed the show for a fourth and final season. The network ordered 10 episodes that were first broadcast on 11 April 2010. The series finale was broadcast on 20 June 2010. The final season was shown in Canada on CBC starting 22 September 2010, and ending on 23 November 2010.
International distribution rights are owned by Sony Pictures Television.
For a more comprehensive list, see List of The Tudors episodes.
Season 1 chronicles the period of Henry VIII's reign in which his effectiveness as king is tested by international conflicts and political intrigue in his own court. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey plays a major part, acting as Henry's trusted advisor.
In Episode 1, Wolsey persuades Henry to keep the peace with France, and the two kings meet at Calais to sign pact of friendship. The pressure of wanting a male heir compels Henry to question his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon. He also has a string of affairs and fathers an illegitimate son in episode 2 with his mistress Elizabeth Blount, who is also one of Queen Katherine's ladies-in-waiting.
Anne Boleyn returns from attending the French court, and she catches Henry's eye. Her father and uncle encourage her to seduce the King, though she also falls in love with Henry as the season unfolds. She refuses to become his mistress but insists that he marry her, which pushes him to use Cardinal Wolsey to take action against the Queen. The King instructs him to get papal dispensation for his divorce, on the grounds that his wife did indeed consummate her marriage to his brother Arthur. In Episode 6, Wolsey makes increasingly desperate efforts to persuade the Catholic Church to grant a royal divorce, primarily as a result of Emperor Charles V's influence over the Pope as Katherine's nephew—but this starts to weaken his position.
In episode 7, the mysterious sweating sickness arrives in England, killing both the high-born and low-born, and Henry is terrified of catching it; he secludes himself in the countryside away from court with his herbal medicines. Anne Boleyn contracts the illness but recovers. A papal envoy arrives in England to decide on the annulment. The court convenes a special session at which both Henry and Katherine initially are present, and it eventually decides in favor of Katherine. Cardinal Wolsey is stripped of his office in episode 9 and banished to York, where he pleads with the King to restore him to office. Henry chooses his loyal friend Sir Thomas More as Wolsey's successor.
In the final episode, Wolsey makes one last desperate attempt to save himself by allying himself with his former enemy Queen Katherine, but their plot is discovered and Wolsey kills himself during his internment in the Tower of London after saying a brief prayer apologising for his sins.
Henry will do whatever it takes to marry Anne Boleyn, even defying Pope Paul III. He prepares to take Anne on a royal visit to France, having demanded loyalty from the English clergy. The papacy in Rome organises an assassination plot against Anne but the assassins' attempts fail.
In Episode 3 the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury annuls Henry's marriage, clearing the way for Henry to marry a by now pregnant Anne, which also increases the growing rift between England and Rome. Bishop Fisher refuses to recognise the validity of Henry's marriage — after Henry issues a decree ordering all his subjects to recognise their new Queen — and is finally joined by Sir Thomas More, who is granted permission by Henry to retire from his public office. In Episode 5, Fisher and More's refusal to sign an oath of allegiance recognising Henry's supreme authority as head of the English church eventually leads to their executions.
In Episode 6, Thomas Cromwell, who has assumed More's office as Chancellor of England, announces his plans to cleanse England of dissenters to the New Monarchy. Also, England's relationship with France is complicated by King Francis's refusal to unite their kingdoms in marriage, thus causing Henry to question his decision to have married Anne. Episode 7 sees an increasingly ill and disillusioned Katherine who has been forbidden to see her daughter, Lady Mary, and Cromwell has legislation approved by Parliament agreeing to the dissolution of first the smaller and then the larger abbeys and monasteries.
In Episode 8, Henry has Cromwell initiate overtures to the Emperor to make peace with Rome as a bulwark against a hostile France, and the King starts to pay court to Lady Jane Seymour after Anne's two miscarriages following the birth of Princess Elizabeth. It is his long-time friend, Charles Brandon who, with Cromwell, eventually alerts Henry to Anne's apparent indiscretions and her fate is sealed. She is conducted to the Tower of London and her four supposed lovers, one of whom is her own brother, are executed followed eventually by her own — delayed by some hours as a result of the French executioner's late arrival from Calais. Her devious father, who shows little remorse at the death of his son and Anne's impending death, is allowed to go free but banished from court and is shown leaving the Tower without even acknowledging his daughter waving from her cell window.
On the morning of his Queen's execution, Henry enjoys a lavish breakfast, symbolically consisting of the mate of a swan he has seen outside his window, as he looks forward to a new start and heirs with Lady Jane Seymour.
The third season focuses on Henry's marriages to Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, the birth of his son Prince Edward, his ruthless suppression of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, and the beginnings of Henry's relationship with the free-spirited Catherine Howard.
Henry marries his third wife but his honeymoon period is soon spoilt by a growing resentment against the Reformation in the north and east of England. The growing band of rebels disperses in Lincolnshire but gathers strength in Yorkshire, primarily because of its able leaders such as Robert Aske and Lord Darcy. The royal troops, commanded by the Duke of Suffolk, are severely outnumbered and are forced to parley, whilst on the Continent the papacy sends a newly appointed English cardinal to persuade the Spanish and French monarchs to support the English rebellion, deemed the Pilgrimage of Grace by its followers as their objective is to restore the old Catholic religious practices.
In Episode 3 Henry is determined to stop at nothing to suppress the revolt, his fears stirred by remembrances of the Cornish uprising during his father's reign. He deceitfully persuades the rebel leaders to lay down their arms and disperse their followers, promising to hold a Parliament in York to answer all their grievances, which is never convoked. A second uprising is savagely suppressed and the leaders executed as Henry, via Cromwell, instructs Suffolk to shed quantities of blood to act as an example. Jane Seymour goes into labor and produces a baby boy, but she dies soon after as a result of her protracted labors. In Episode 5, Henry retires from public view, bereft by the loss of his Queen, but finally emerges: his first act is to get the church leaders to agree on a new Protestant doctrine, one that threatens to undermine Cromwell's Reformation.
In the ensuing episodes, the King has the last remaining Plantagenet heirs, the Pole family, put to death (mother, son and grandson) as a result of Cardinal Reginald Pole's actions to undermine his rule. This creates a schism with Spain and France and, upon Cromwell's urging, Henry agrees to an alliance with the Protestant League by marrying Anne of Cleves after first dispatching the English Ambassador to Holland to negotiate terms, followed by Hans Holbein to paint her likeness. However, Cromwell's plans to bolster the Reformation are undone by Henry's dislike for Anne, whom he calls a 'Flanders mare'. He is unable to consummate his marriage and vents his frustration on his Lord Privy Seal, which is encouraged by the Duke of Suffolk in league with Edward Seymour, as both want Cromwell removed from office. With his enemies encircling him, Cromwell pleads with Anne of Cleves to submit herself to her husband, but she is powerless to deflect King Henry's antipathy towards her. Finally, Cromwell is dragged off to the Tower after being accused of being a traitor by the King's Council and, despite writing a letter begging his master's forgiveness, is gruesomely beheaded by a drunken executioner.
In the meantime, Sir Francis Bryan is instructed by the Duke of Suffolk to find a woman to rekindle Henry's jaded love interest, and the beautiful and very young Catherine Howard, a distant relation of the Duke of Norfolk, is introduced at court and, catching the King's interest, he beds her in secret and a new romance begins.
The fourth and final season covers Henry's ill-fated marriage to Catherine Howard and his final, more congenial, marriage to Catherine Parr. The ageing King seeks military glory by capturing Boulogne, France. In his final hours, he is troubled by the ghosts of his dead wives.
Henry marries 17 year old Catherine Howard, and, besotted by her beauty, calling her "his rose without a thorn", feels rejuvenated. Catherine starts to dally with the King's groom, Thomas Culpepper, and is encouraged by her senior lady-in-waiting, Lady Rochford — Henry's sister-in-law — who is also being bedded by Culpepper. In Episode 2, Henry invites his former wife, Anne of Cleves, to court to celebrate Christmas as he wants to reward her for keeping her word to him and for her loyalty. She, in turn, is grateful for the charity he has shown towards her. After the festivities, he is struck down once again by his leg wound — from his former jousting days — while Catherine is with Culpepper.
Feeling the need for company, Henry visits Anne of Cleves and has a liaison with her. He and Catherine embark on the royal Passage to the North to forgive the former rebels, accompanied by the Princess Mary who is popular with the King's northern subjects. It is during this period that Catherine and Culpepper consummate their relationship and Catherine is truly in love with him. In Episode 4, Henry makes friendly overtures to the French Ambassador, hoping to prevent an invasion, and Francis Dereham, Catherine's former lover when they both resided with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, arrives at court and blackmails the Queen into making him her private secretary. Some weeks later Henry receives a secret letter about their prior sexual exploits.
In Episode 5 the King grants permission to the Earl of Hertford to investigate the Queen's infidelity. He plans to pardon her but is then informed by his Council of her affair with Culpepper — revealed by Dereham under torture — and he has all three executed, along with Lady Rochford who has gone mad in the Tower. On the scaffold, Catherine states that, although Queen of England, she would have preferred to have been Thomas Culpepper's wife. In Episode 6, Henry is courted by both Spain and Rome to form a military alliance against the French, who have allied with the Turks, and he is persuaded to form an alliance with the Emperor and invade France. Thomas Seymour introduces Catherine Parr at court and she catches the King's eye, even though married. Henry pursues her and sends Seymour over to Belgium to remove him as a love rival.
Military preparations are made and English troops lay siege to Boulogne, bombarding it with cannon as an Italian engineer digs a tunnel to blow up the castle. Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, captures a French father and daughter and falls in love with the daughter Brigitte. At home, Catherine Parr is acting as Regent in Henry's absence and uses her power to further the Protestant cause but is checked by Bishop Gardiner and his Catholic faction, supported by the Princess Mary. In Episode 8, the castle of Boulogne is overcome and the keys to the city handed over to Henry by the French mayor. Henry returns to court in triumph, leaving the Earl of Surrey in charge of the new possession.
At home, Henry is disturbed by the struggle between the Catholic and Protestant factions and Catherine alienates him through her support of the Reformation. Bishop Gardiner continues his campaign against heretics and gathers enough evidence to persuade the King to issue an arrest warrant against the Queen for heresy. In the meantime, Henry Howard, now Lieutenant General Surrey, loses a disastrous battle at Boulogne and, in an attempt to usurp power away from the new men like the Seymours and Richard Rich, he is arrested and tried for treason and executed, despite the paucity of evidence against him.
In Episode 10 an increasingly frail Henry is facing his own mortality. His mind is on the succession and he appoints Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford, to be Lord Protector until Prince Edward reaches his maturity. Catherine, knowing the mortal danger she is in, orders her ladies-in-waiting to destroy all their heretical books and no longer to discuss religious matters; she also submits herself to her husband and he pardons her. Charles Brandon, the King's most trustworthy friend and loyal servant, is reunited with Henry for one final meeting before he dies. As the end approaches, the ghosts of Henry's first three wives confront him over their ends and his treatment of their children. Henry orders his family to spend their Christmas at Greenwich, bidding them his final farewell and instructing the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth to care for their brother. The final scene has him approving the portrait painted for him by Hans Holbein, depicting him as a virile, youthful King.
Main article: List of The Tudors characters
|Henry VIII of England||Jonathan Rhys Meyers||1–4|
|Katherine of Aragon||Maria Doyle Kennedy||1–2, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Anne Boleyn||Natalie Dormer||1–2, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Jane Seymour||Anita Briem||2|
|Annabelle Wallis||3, 4 (Dream sequence)|
|Anne of Cleves||Joss Stone||3–4|
|Catherine Howard||Tamzin Merchant||3–4|
|Catherine Parr||Joely Richardson||4|
|The King's Children|
|Princess Mary, daughter by Catherine of Aragon|
|Princess Elizabeth, daughter by Anne Boleyn||Kate Duggan||2|
|Prince Edward, son by Jane Seymour||Eoin Murtagh||4|
|Henry FitzRoy, illegitimate son by Elizabeth Blount||Zak Jenciragic||1|
|The King's Court|
|Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk||Henry Cavill||1–4|
|Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex||James Frain||1–3|
|Sir Thomas More||Jeremy Northam||1–2|
|Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton||Frank McCusker||3–4|
|Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk||Henry Czerny||1|
|Lady Elizabeth Blount||Ruta Gedmintas||1|
|Sir Anthony Knivert||Callum Blue||1|
|Sir William Compton||Kristen Holden-Ried||1|
|Thomas Tallis||Joe Van Moyland||1|
|Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham||Steven Waddington||1|
|Thomas Wyatt||Jamie Thomas King||1–2|
|Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire||Nick Dunning||1–2|
|Mary Boleyn||Perdita Weeks||1–2|
|George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford||Padraic Delaney||1–2|
|Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford||Joanne King||2–4|
|Lady Margaret Sheldon||Laura Jane Laughlin||2|
|Mark Smeaton||David Alpay||2|
|William Brereton||James Gilbert||2|
|Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford||Max Brown||2–4|
|Anne Seymour, Countess of Hertford||Emma Hamilton||3–4|
|Thomas Seymour||Andrew McNair||3–4|
|Sir Richard Rich||Rod Hallett||2–4|
|Sir Francis Bryan||Alan van Sprang||3|
|George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury||Gavin O'Connor||3|
|Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey||David O'Hara||4|
|Joan Bulmer||Catherine Steadman||4|
|Sir Thomas Culpeper||Torrance Coombs||4|
|Francis Dereham||Allen Leech||4|
|Hans Holbein the Younger||Peter Gaynor||1, 3–4|
|Holy Roman Ambassador Eustace Chapuys||Anthony Brophy||1–4|
|French Ambassador Charles de Marillac||Lothaire Bluteau||4|
|Sir Henry Norris||Stephen Hogan||2|
|Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York||Sam Neill||1|
|Cardinal Campeggio||John Kavanagh||1–2|
|John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester||Bosco Hogan||1–2|
|Pope Clement VII||Ian McElhinney||1|
|Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury||Hans Matheson||2|
|Pope Paul III||Peter O'Toole||2|
|Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg||Max von Sydow||3|
|Cardinal Reginald Pole||Mark Hildreth||3|
|Bishop Stephen Gardiner||Simon Ward||3–4|
|Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII of England||Gabrielle Anwar||1|
|Francis I of France||Emmanuel Leconte||1–2|
|Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor||Sebastian Armesto||1|
|Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk||Rebekah Wainwright||1–4|
|Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury||Kate O'Toole||1, 3|
|Margaret, Lady Bryan||Jane Brennan||2–4|
|Philip, Duke of Bavaria||Colin O'Donoghue||3|
|William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, Brother to Anne of Cleves||Paul Ronan||3|
|Robert Aske||Gerard McSorley||3|
|Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy||Colm Wilkinson||3–4|
Main article: List of The Tudors episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||1 April 2007||10 June 2007|
|2||10||30 March 2008||1 June 2008|
|3||8||5 April 2009||24 May 2009|
|4||10||11 April 2010||20 June 2010|
Many events in the series differ from events as they actually happened in history. The series takes liberties with character names, relationships, historical costume, physical appearance, and the timing of events. As creator Hirst said, "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, so "any confusion created by the changes is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures."
The premiere of The Tudors on 1 April 2007, was the highest-rated Showtime series debut in three years. On 23 March 2008, The New York Times called The Tudors a "primitively sensual period drama ... [that] critics could take or leave, but many viewers are eating up." A 28 March 2008 review, also by the New York Times, reported that "despite the scorching authenticity of some performances," in particular the "star-making, breakout performance of Natalie Dormer as the defiant, courageous proto-feminist martyr Anne Boleyn" 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." According to the ratings site Metacritic, the show had 64% favourable reviews for the first season, 68% for the second season, 74% for the third season, and 63% for the fourth.
In the United States, the first-season premiere drew almost 870,000 viewers. The premiere earned a combined one million views online and via cable affiliates.
|DVD Name||Release dates||# of Ep||Additional Information|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season One||8 January 2008||10 December 2007||19 March 2008||10||The four-disc box set includes all 10 episodes. There is a special edition in United Kingdom, with a headless picture for the cover, exclusive of Amazon.co.uk. This season was released on Blu-ray in Europe and Canada.|
|Season Two||11 November 2008||6 January 2009||13 October 2008||7 July 2009||10||The three-disc box set includes all 10 episodes. This season has also been released on Blu-ray in Europe and Canada.|
|Season Three||10 November 2009||15 December 2009||7 December 2009||23 November 2009||8||The three disc box set includes all 8 episodes. Bonus features include an exclusive tour of Hampton Court and an interview with Joss Stone.|
|Season Four||9 November 2010||12 October 2010||21 March 2011||24 November 2010||10||The three-disc box set includes all 10 episodes.|
An original soundtrack for each season, composed by Trevor Morris, has been released by Varèse Sarabande.
|Season||Release Date||Catalog Number|
|Season One||12 November 2007||302 066 867 2|
|Season Two||14 April 2009||302 066 959 2|
|Season Three||24 August 2010||302 067 039 2|
|Season Four||10 December 2010||302 067 049 2|
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 2007 59th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Outstanding Costumes for a Series and Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. Later the series won six awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards in 2009 including Drama Series, Director, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design and Make Up & Hair. In 2010 it was nominated for seven Irish Film and Television Awards, winning one in the category Best Supporting Actress in Television (Sarah Bolger).