…and I say tomahto…
The Beeb has a new series of historical programmes being broadcast under the portmanteau title of Life and Death in the Tudor Court.
Last Thursday saw the broadcast of The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, and what a rich plum pudding of a programme it was. It had a collection of historians and novelists – big guns, such as David Starkey and Hilary Mantel – battling it out over whose interpretation of the facts – as far as they are known – were the real McCoy. I thought it was absolutely riveting. The programme makers interviewed the experts individually, and then cut between them so that it was very apparent that history is fluid, and the truth is never as clear-cut as some would like to profess. The cut-and-thrust between the experts was excellently done, and pointed up the fact that history is never cut-and-dried.
The following night, we had professor Diarmaid MacCulloch covering much the same ground with his examination of the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell.
Unfortunately for the good professor, having seen how interpretations of the players in the Tudor Court were presented and interpreted by a gallery of experts on the previous night, I was far less ready to go along with his thesis. I kept wondering how his fellow historians might have wanted to present a somewhat different picture.
And then there was his pronunciation of the name of Anne Boleyn. The previous night, all the assembled experts had said Anne Bowlin, just as I’ve always thought of it. And now here was the good professor calling her Anne Bollin. I’m sorry, but something is not right in the state of Denmark…
You say potahto, and he says potayto – let’s call the whole thing orff.