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The Real White Queen and her Rivals

Wed Jul 17, 9-10pm, BBC2

Episode one
Well, that’s the DVD extras for ‘The White Queen’ box set sorted then. Joking aside, this two-part documentary series, which ties in neatly with the BBC’s Sunday night historical epic, is worth slightly more than that. Presented by Dr Philippa Gregory (on whose books the show is of course based), it puts some historical flesh on the series’s rather soapy bones and suggests that this was indeed a story just begging to be gussied up and presented to the ‘Downton’ demographic.

Concentrating on the stories of the era’s women is a shrewd and righteous move – the male power politics were one thing but the female suffering, plotting and manoeuvring seems to have been every bit as extensive as ‘The White Queen’ leads us to believe.

For example, we now understand why Margaret Beaufort was so uptight – she was a mother before entering her teens and lost her son for long periods to the brutal dynastic politics of the day. Like most current BBC documentaries, deeply generic in presentational terms, but a lively enough story all the same.

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