A University of Exeter expert has helped to bring the world of the Tudor court to life for television viewers around the world.
Professor James Clark advised on historical accuracy for a major new TV adaption of a novel by Philippa Gregory.
The White Princess (a STARZ Original Limited Series) was filmed in Bristol and the West Country, and is the sequel to The White Queen.
The novels are part of a series featuring the lives of females close to the throne during the Wars of the Roses and the early years of the Tudor monarchy.
The series tells the story of Elizabeth of York, whose side was defeated but who married the victorious Henry Tudor as part of a political plan to unite England.
As Queen she was the mother of Henry VIII, but the series will show how she still struggled to come to terms with the consequences of past battles.
Recreat the Tudor Palace of Westminster
Professor Clark regularly visited the set in Bristol, where producers recreated the Tudor Palace of Westminster.
He also joined the crew on location, to be on hand for some of the show-piece scenes, such as a royal wedding.
He worked day-by-day with the costume department to ensure that colour and style of clothing and accessories -from head-gear to hosiery -was ‘just right’ for the period being represented.
He also checked the scripts for each episode and coached the principal actors who have to speak medieval languages -Latin, Old Spanish and High German.
He recorded passages in each language so the actors could get their accents right.
For the most demanding scenes -especially battle scenes -he talked through the action with directors to ensure that what is shown on screen followed as far as possible what is known to have happened.
A sharp eye for detail
Professor Clark said: ‘We planned each stage of each battle -where the knights and the horses would be -as if we were the real commanders and these were real troops.
‘But we are well aware that many viewers will have a sharp eye for detail and it would especially disappointing for the action-scenes to be unconvincing”
Of course, recreating the Middle Ages as they actually were is huge challenge, even with 21st century technology and Prof Clark’s most difficult role was to say what could and could not be compromised.
‘I tried hard not to be too much of a purist but I hope for those that love these books it will feel authentic.’
Professor Clark will appear as an expert on the extra bonus features when the series is released on DVD, and is writing character profiles for the show’s publicity materials.
‘It’s been a fascinating project to be involved with and I am looking forward to seeing how the work we have done in each department -sets, props, costumes, script -comes together on screen’, he said.
Recreating Tudor England
‘The cast and crew are doing a wonderful job of recreating Tudor England.
‘The sets are so realistic you forget that the ancient oak furniture is made from MDF and the wide stone walls of the castles in fact are only skin-deep.
‘I’ve been lucky to be involved in a huge variety of things that are done both behind and in front of the camera.’
The show stars Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, Jacob Collins-Levy as King Henry VII, Michelle Fairley as Lady Margaret Beaufort and Essie Davis as Princess Elizabeth’s mother Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, an indomitable strategist and unwavering supporter of the York cause
The White Princess is shown on Saturdays 9pm on Drama.
(from a press release)