The Tudors Season 4 Premiere

Posted By on April 11, 2010

Enjoy Showtime’s The Tudors Season 4 Episode One tonight all you lucky, lucky people in the US and spare a thought for the rest of us drowning our sorrows. However, there are various clips and goodies over on the Showtime website, although you can’t watch the full episodes on their site if you’re outside the US – grrr!

There are also various “behind the scenes” videos and interviews.

Season 4

So, what exactly have we got to look forward to in Season 4 of The Tudors? In the online press pack, Michael Hirst says of Season 4:-

“We’re coming to the end of Henry’s life but things don’t slacken up. Far from going out quietly, Henry VIII goes out with an extraordinary bang. He is older, but only in his late 40s. He is ill—he has an extremely serious ulcerated leg—and more paranoid, but then he marries an extremely young woman, who didn’t have the right background to be a Queen. At the same time, he goes to war. Then he marries again, for the final time, to a woman who is very capable but whom everyone thinks is a heretic and some want to execute. So there’s lots of action right to the very end!”

The series has been criticised by some for its unrealistic “physical” portrayal of Henry VIII. Although we have seen his yucky leg, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was still looking rather “fit” and gorgeous in Season 3 don’t you think? But, this will change a bit in the final Season. Executive Producer Morgan O’Sullivan says: “It’s hard to make Jonathan Rhys Meyers look bad, but in the costumes we are putting a little weight on him, graying him a little and doing some prosthetic work so that by the end of the season viewers will notice a marked difference in his appearance. Henry is at the point where he has gone out of control. Jonathan lives this part to such a degree and knows the character of this man so well that it’s extraordinary to watch him now after four seasons—how instinctually he plays the role.”

Is “instinctually” even a word?!

Henry VIII

I always find it interesting to hear what the actors and actresses think of the historical figures they are playing. Here is what Jonathan Rhys Meyers had to say of the Henry VIII we encounter in Season4 and his marriage to the young Catherine Howard:-

“She is the mid-life crisis girl, the Tudor equivalent of going out and buying the red Ferrari when you are 50 and divorced. Obviously she is ridiculously young; the marriage could never work. But Henry kind of uses her—and I always thought of her as a kind of a leech. I don’t mean leeching off Henry, but there’s a naiveté about her sexual behavior, which I think Henry recognizes and he uses her as a leech to draw out the bad blood. There is nothing to test your friends more than if you leave them alone with something that they really want.”

The real Kitty Howard

Katherine Howard

Of course, we all know that little Kitty Howard comes to a very sticky end but I am looking forward to how the series portray her as Queen, how Jane Rochford will be involved in Katherine’s downfall and whether they do actually have her committing adultery with Thomas Culpeper, something that some historians do question.

When asked about why Henry VIII chose Katherine as his bride, Tamzin Merchant, the actress who plays Katherine said:-

“I think Henry sees a young, bright, vivacious, lively girl and an opportunity to have another child. Her purity and naiveté also contrasts greatly with the other people that he has in his life at the time. He’s increasingly paranoid and increasingly untrusting of people. But Katherine Howard seems to be the antidote to the Court and all of its intrigues.”

and on Katherine:-

“I think Katherine sees the chance to be loved and the opportunity for a really good time – essentially, a lot of Jimmy Choos and Vivian Westwood-style dresses and good times!”  but “Katherine really doesn’t anticipate or understand
the responsibilities that go along with being the Queen. Katherine doesn’t even really understand the concept of politics or what the King represents… and that’s her downfall.”

Poor Katherine!

Thomas Culpeper

But what about Thomas Culpeper, the man who history has tarred as a rapist and murderer too (or was that his brother Thomas?!), how will Season 4 treat this new character?

Torrance Combs, the actor who plays Thomas Culpeper, spoke of Culpeper’s relationship with Katherine Howard:-

“It starts out very much as a lustful fantasy. He fancies Katherine above all else, and that’s the motivation behind some of the crazy things he does. She encourages him, so although it starts out as a fantasy, it gradually becomes more of a reality. What is amazing to me is that historically there is a man who had the audacity to think he could get away with this—his lust or love or whatever is so strong that he just doesn’t care. They can’t help themselves, but there is no way it can end well for either of them.”

Indeed, we all know it does not end well for either of them, or for poor Sir Francis Dereham, but we’ll have to wait and see whether The Tudors sticks to the story.

The real Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr

I do hope though that they don’t make Catherine Parr into Henry’s nursemaid and actually portray her as the dynamic, intelligent woman that she was. She was definitely more than the wife who survived!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers says of Henry’s marriage to Catherine Parr “I don’t think he marries her because of love and it’s not because of sex; it’s basically they are equal and he can talk to her on that level. He is not looking for love now; he is looking for a partnership.”

Joely Richardson, the actress who plays Catherine Parr says: “I think all her life has been duty. When we meet Catherine Parr she’s fallen in love with Thomas Seymour – perhaps the first love of her life. She’s totally lost her heart to him when Henry takes an interest in her and she gets married because she doesn’t have a choice. Initially she definitely doesn’t want to be with him. And when she starts to receive presents from him and his attention, it’s the worst thing that could happen to her. But then she becomes fascinated by him, she sees something lost in him. She’s still frightened of him of course. And I think she gets fascinated by Court life and because she is an incredibly intelligent woman, I think she starts to ask how she can influence it in terms of her religion, in terms of helping Henry run Court life better. So she gets interested by all that and forgets about Thomas Seymour – although of course in reality
she went on to marry him after the death of Henry.”

Me thinks that Joely Richardson has been doing her research – well done! It is annoying when you hear some of the actors and actresses make the most awful and basic mistakes when talking about their real life counter-parts but I do feel that both Joely and Jonathan have researched their parts and have a great insight into their characters.

Henry VIII - not exactly JRM!

The End of a Man and A Reign

The Tudors Season 4 press pack points out that “As he [Henry] approaches death, two of Henry’s relationships—in a life filled with relationships and betrayals—remain steadfast. The first is his oldest and most loyal friend Charles Brandon, who has been with him since the beginning. The second, his sixth and final wife Catherine Parr, nurses him and provides patient comfort.”

We do know that Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was one of Henry’s oldest and dearest friends and I’m looking forward to seeing their relationship as both enter decline.

Season 4 also gives Henry his last chance to be the King he dreams of, the leader and warrior, as he leads his troops to France to get Boulogne. Hirst calls war one of Henry’s “raisons d’etre” and that’s very true, Henry wanted to be the perfect heroic and chivalrous hero King and what better way to show that than going to war and winning?

The Tudors press-pack points out that Jonathan Rhys Meyers has played Henry VIII for more time than any other actor in the history of film or TV and that this gives him a unique insight into the King’s character. So, after playing Henry VIII for four seasons, what does JRM think of this iconic King?:-

“He did some very, very important things for England. Most importantly, he gave them Elizabeth who, I think, is England’s most important monarch. He puts things in motion that years later would come to fruition. And he was a very intelligent man – but he was racked with ego, vanity, his thoughts of his own divinity. You know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, so he was very corrupt. So on the one hand I have empathy for him and a degree of admiration – but not much. I think he makes great television; but he was not, in the final analysis, a great king.”

Enjoy the Season 4 premiere tonight and do comment here to let me know what you thought of it. I so want them to show Henry being haunted by his past, particularly his actions regarding Anne Boleyn!

Anne Boleyn

Laura over at Admiring Natalie Dormer has posted a promo photo of the ghostly Anne Boleyn on her site – see – and you can see photos of Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour at


Other News

In today’s “Sunday Times”, David Starkey criticises female historians for being pretty and writing “historical Mills and Boon” type books. Hmmmm…I do admire the man greatly but sometimes I wonder what he’s on! Gender has nothing to do with a person’s aptitude for history and their writing skills so I wish he would start lumping female historians all together. See for the article “David Starkey Swipes at “Pretty Girl” History”.

22 thoughts on “The Tudors Season 4 Premiere”

  1. jennifer says:

    I am so excited about the new season…sadly I have to wait until my boyfriend gets back from a month long investigation!! Obviously they were not aware the new season of the Tudors was starting when they ordered my poor boyfriend to go. 🙂 I have wondered if they are going to show Charles Brandon dying before Henry, since historically he did. I just have been curious since season 1. It was the ultimate “bromance” so they have to show something at the end!!

  2. HannahL says:

    I am so excited about this!!!! I’m counting down the hours. I agree that these actors and actresses really seem to have gotten into their characters, JRM in particular. And I’m anxious to see how accurate they’ll be about Katherine and Thomas, Charles Brandon, etc.

  3. lisaannejane says:

    I’ve seen episode 1 on you tube, and it’s not great, but at least interesting. Poor Catherine Howard acts like a valley girl who should hang out at the mall. Culpepper acts like a pervert who you would want to put in a psychiatric ward. Henry just looks like he is wearing too many clothes and needs liposuction on his chin. I guess Charles Brandon is now permanently separated from his wife, but I would comfort him any day LOL! JRM still looks too good and frankly, he says he is tired but it is hard to believe. I am not ordering Showtime for 9 more episodes based on what I’ve seen. Claire: I just don’t get David Sarkey! He seems more openly hostile toward women as he gets older! Someone should remind him that his reputation as a historian will be ruined if he sounds like a grumpy old man.

  4. Meredith says:

    Woohoo! I don’t have Showtime, but I’ll be watching it online soon (and thinking of those who can’t yet!).

    And yes, I think instinctually is a word… 🙂

  5. ProudtobeCatholic says:

    Arrgh!!! I really wish I could get my dad to order Showtime, but he won’t. And our internet is screwed up right now and I can’t watch videos online. So I can’t watch it online either! Although, we get get Showtime free the last weekend of March. I was able to get through episode 4 of season 2.

  6. Claire says:

    I was just comparing the photo of JRM at the top of my post with the Henry VIII portrait at the bottom, which Showtime have obviously copied, and the resemblance is not too bad – a definite change from the JRM of Season 1 so I’m looking forward to seeing JRM in Season 4.

    Catherine Howard the Valley Girl! I like that. In the UK I think we’d perhaps liken her to a footballer’s wife, or is that unfair?!

    By the way, lisaannejane, was the David “Sarkey” a fab typo or was it on purpose – love it!!

  7. Amy Winter says:

    I found a website where the first two episodes are available for viewing for free (admittedly you can only watch 72 minutes of free video per day, but thats more than an episode so if you can be patient you can watch one full episode per day 🙂 )

    Here is the link

    Under each episode link, the Megavideo options are the very best ones to use.


  8. missisGG says:

    Thanks for the link Amy!
    I wonder why they are making Thomas Culpepper so horrible? I don’t know much about him, was he known for being a rapist, pervert etc?? Seems like you were right Claire!

  9. Cranky says:

    Episode One last night was just so much fun to watch. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is still way too good-looking even with the gray air and extra fat but he’s such a good actor that he pulls you right in anyway. Tamzin Merchant plays Katherine Howard as a giddy teenager – I kept thinking Tudor Valley Girl – maybe not the most historically accurate but again, so much fun to watch.

    A little historical accuracy crept in with Culpepper as they showed what a creep he was in real life. I think the actor they chose is vey much how I imagine the real Culpepper was – a pretty boy with an undercurrent of cruelty/sadism. I thought he was good.

    One of my favorite scenes was the interaction between Princess Mary and Katherine Howard. The actress portraying Princess Mary was able to telegraph her contempt like K.H. was an unpleasant bug.

    No ghostly Anne Boleyn yet. They introduced Henry Howard Earl of Surrey but introduced him as Katharine’s uncle and if I remember correctly, he was her cousin. Oh yeah, Charles Brandon is still ridiculously good-looking (even with the gray air and added fat) as well, almost up there with JRM. JRM has this charisma which I imagine the real Henry probably had.

    In sum a very enjoyable hour.

    p.s. Claire I got the Leandra de Lisle book about the Grey sisters. Really excellent.

  10. Cranky says:

    Oh my god, I just read Lisanne’s comment after I wrote mine. We both thought the same thing – Tudor Valley girl – lol. Great minds and all that. Not sure what the UK equivalent to a Valley Girl would be…..maybe Sloane Ranger?

  11. Carolyn says:

    Maybe we could call David Starkey “David Snarkey” instead? Do you guys in the UK use the expression ‘snark’ or ‘snarky’? In the US, it means to be amusingly sarcastic or sniping. Although perhaps Starkey isn’t intentionally amusing…

  12. Claire says:

    In the UK, “sarky” is short for sarcastic but “snarky” works just as well. I’ve been sticking up for Starkey recently, saying that I’m sure that he doesn’t mean to come across as anti-women and now look at what he’s gone and done!!

    As far as discussing Season 4 is concerned, feel free to discuss it in the forum – see – and when I contacted the UK’s BBC channel the other week they had no idea when it was going to be aired but I suspect it will be Autumn, not sure about other countries.

  13. Cranky says:

    I bet Starkey has a new book or series coming out. He’s a clever guy and knows how to work the press.

  14. lisaannejane says:

    Claire: Like, I totally didn’t know, like, I had made a typo and, like, it meant something! OMG! David Starkey, like, is not cool and I still think he’s kind of mean. Katherine Howard could hang out at the mall with me and check out the guys! Then we could use daddy’s credit card and have fun!

  15. Amy says:

    I watched last weeks episode. I know that Katherine Howard was not known for being the brightest candle in the chandelier, but I wasn’t constantly smiling because of her. She made Henry seem human again. It was good to see him laugh again. lol I say this as if I was at court, but you know what i mean.

  16. lisaannejane says:

    For U.S.viewers: episode 2 in on you tube right now. Just type Good King Henry part 1. There are 6 parts in all. I’m not going to give any details, but it does have an interesting twist in the plot.

  17. sara says:

    in the US, Comcast is having a good deal on Showtime…fine by me if it entertains me every Sunday night 🙂

    I’m assuming everyone has seen Eps. 1, so I think it’s safe to say this: I really love the moment when Henry introduces Katherine to Elizabeth and he stops for a moment and seems a bit taken with Elizabeth, and you can’t tell if he is remembering her mother or having a thought that she will be a great monarch someday. Or, perhaps both. Elizabeth really seems to have a glow that Henry sees during that moment. It made me want to scream at my tv “you just wait! anne’s daughter is gonna kick everyone of your dead wives’ butts!” It’s a moment of irony-in-the-works…absolutely beautiful!

  18. Abbie says:

    I have seen 4 episodes of the Tudors season 4 and I have o say it’s not as good as season 2 🙁 There is too much sex to enjoy it and I really miss Natalie Dormer 🙁 xxx

  19. Tina says:

    i’ve seen all episodes till now, and i can say i’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the shoe to drop. however, if i have to look at tamzin merchant’s bare behind one more time, i’m going to scream. lots and lots of teenaged sex in this one.

    the way i see it, kitty *was* nothing but a little teeneaged girl, and throughout the genrations of time, all teenaged girls have the same characteristics. tamzin has done a fabulous job portraying this hideously uneducated young girl, who really was a product of her upbringing (or lack thereof). if she had been “raised right” she probably would have lasted *much* longer than she did.

    also the interaction between henry and anne of cleves is interesting. that’s all i’ll say about that.

  20. Gia says:

    Catherine Howard was the best Queen so far, by way of entertainment. The actress did a fantastic job. Her demise was poetic.

  21. Riah says:

    What I really didn’t like was the fact that in the beginning of episode six of this season Mary goes to Elizabeth to tell her that they are to be restored to the line to the throne. Elizabeth says that because of what happened to Katherine she would never marry. Of course, she had to have known what happened to her mother so I’m sure if Katherine was the reason she decided to do so her mother’s ordeal would have had a bigger impact. I know that Elizabeth was close to three when her mother(rest her soul<3) was executed, which the anniversary of it is rapidly approaching this month, but I'm sure she loved her mother. Mary is always making reference to her mother the first Queen so why wouldn't Hirst have Elizabeth reference to Anne? I just wish they would have shown how much Anne loved her and that Elizabeth was as faithful to her mother as Mary.

    1. Claire says:

      I think the bit where Elizabeth says that she will never marry is based on what she said to her friend, Robert Dudley, which was after the death of Catherine Howard. Mary was nearly 20 years old when he mother, Catherine of Aragon, died whereas Elizabeth was only 2 years and 8 months when Anne died so she probably could not remember much about Anne, particularly as she would also have spent most of the time in her own household away from Anne and Henry. I’m sure that Elizabeth loved her mother and respected her mother’s memory – the locket ring, the way she replicated parts of her mother’s coronation and the way she surrounded herself with Boleyn relatives show us that – but Mary and Catherine had a relationship over 20 years so it is difficult to compare them.

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