Anne Boleyn was not black. She was, however, described by multiple sources as having “olive skin” and a “rather dark complexion”. This is worth bearing in mind because when Channel 5 announced that Jodie Turner-Smith would be playing the role of the infamous British Queen, many people were in uproar.
Social media was abuzz with numerous opinions about the casing choice – some more eye-opening and shocking than others. Regardless of how you feel about the casting, Jodie Turner-Smith is not the problem with Anne Boleyn. In fact, she’s actually one of the few bright spots in this outdated and tired historical drama.
Instead, Anne Boleyn quashes any initial excitement and enthusiasm, unable to silence the doubters with a stodgy, unimaginative script riddled with historical inaccuracies. It’s particularly frustrating because the first episode sets the foundations for a pretty interesting and well-worked character examination.
The second then builds on that and looks set to actually inject some pace into the show. This is then completely squandered and ruined by a lackluster, tired finale that stumbles over the finish line to an indifferent conclusion.
For those unaware, Anne Boleyn was the second wife to King Henry VIII during the tumultuous Tudor period. She was well-known for being beheaded on charges of conspiring against the King. Channel 5’s new drama centers on the final months of Anne’s life, with specific emphasis on how her tenuous grip slipped off the throne in favour of Jane Seymour.
On paper, Anne Boleyn has all the ingredients to be tense and palpable – and the series is even marketed as an “intimate, psychological thriller” too.
Unfortunately the show fails to live up to expectations, with numerous inaccuracies dotted throughout. Most notably is the omission of Anne’s famous final speech on the scaffolding before her beheading. For a show so dedicated to being bold and showcasing the power of femininity, the fact that Turner-Smith doesn’t even get one final hoorah to address the people is a real disappointment.
And disappointment is probably the best word to describe this show. Despite some glimmers of promise throughout the first two episodes, anachronistic dialogue, wooden acting and a really bad final episode make this a tough sell. In the end, Channel 5 throws all of its chips on the table only to see this gamble backfire in the worst possible way.
With better writing, less inaccuracies and a pacey script, Anne Boleyn could have been a solid historical drama. Instead, heads will likely roll over the lackluster and inconsequential end product.