I don’t know about you, but over the last few weeks I have definitely noticed a marked increase in the amount of film and TV adverts floating around out there. Perhaps the studios have realised the vast majority of us have had enough of this summer heat wave already, and are looking forward to a cosy winter tucked up on the sofa watching a good old period drama? Luckily for us, 2018 seems to be a strong year in terms of historical films and TV. I’ve rounded up the pick of the crop to keep an eye out for during what’s left of this year.
Mary Queen of Scots
The latest retelling of the story of the two rival queens – Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I – stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie respectively. The initial trailer for the film has garnered a mixed reaction, with some historians criticising it for its complete lack of historical accuracy. Mary speaks with a strong Scottish accent in the film, even though she was raised in the French Court, and the film also shows the two queens meeting face-to-face when this never happened. Despite all that, I will be watching the film as I love Tudor history! Release date – 8th December 2018.
This forthcoming film is all about two cousins jockeying to be court favourites during the reign of Queen Anne in the early 18th century. There’s some great names attached to this film – the incomparable Olivia Colman stars as Queen Anne, Emma Stone takes the role of the lesser-known favourite Abigail Masham (cousin to the more well known Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough) and Mark Gatiss looks like a spectacular Duke of Marlborough. People working on the film have described it as ‘bawdy’ and ‘sex-driven’ so should be interesting! Due to be released on New Years Day 2019.
Now, I’m going to have to admit I don’t actually know that much about the Peterloo Massacre (sorry, bit of a spoiler there!) – coming from Wales we learned more about the Chartists in school. So I’m really looking forward to learning more about this major event in British history that happened 200 years ago this year. Rory Kinnear portrays Henry Hunt , the radical champion of the working-class. I simply love anything that Kinnear is in (Fun Fact – Hunt was also the first to petition for women’s suffrage in Parliament). Due in cinemas on the 2nd of December 2018.
Now, I know there is almost zero historical evidence out there to substantiate the existence of Robin Hood, but he is a figure so far woven into the British psyche and folklore I couldn’t not include the latest interpretation in my list. This Robin Hood film stars my fellow Welshie Taron Egerton in the lead role. Described as a darker, revisionist prequel to the usual type of Robin Hood tale, the film is also produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. From the trailer it looks like an action film, seems to be set during the Crusades and seems to be very loose with the historical accuracy. Will this film equal the iconic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Only time will tell. Due in cinemas on the 21st of November.
A Discovery of Witches
This forthcoming series is technically a fantasy, but with lots of historical elements. Based on the best selling novel of the same name, the author Deborah Harkness is a Professor of European History and the History of Science. Her knowledge of her chosen disciplines comes across in the story in meticulous detail. The Sky series will follow a young academic who begins to reconnect with her witch heritage after meeting a charming vampire and discovering a magical manuscript in the Bodelian library no less. The eight part series commences on Friday 14th September.
Vanity Far by William Makepeace Thackery is one of those classic stories. Like Pride and Prejuidice, every generation has an adaptation to love and call their own. Vanity Fair follows the lives of ambitious Becky Sharp and her friend Emmy Sedley, their friends and families during and after the Napoleonic Wars. I loved Reese Witherspoon as Becky Sharp in the 2004 film version, so I cant wait to see what this TV adaptation is like. No official air date has been set for the seven part series as yet, but keep your eyes peeled for it this autumn.
A perfect winter drama, I simply CANNOT wait for Series 3 of The Crown to air. If you’ve been following me over on Instagram, you know I LOVE the British Royal Family and royal history. Even if you don’t love the royals as much as I do, you will appreciate the production value and the always excellent casting and acting. Claire Foy and Matt Smith were spot on as the Queen and Prince Philip, and I cant wait to see what Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies bring to the roles. And the fabulous Helen Bonham-Carter will be taking on the role of Princess Margaret.
Its a bit touch-and-go whether we will see any of the first series this side of Christmas due to casting and filming delays, but I have my fingers firmly crossed that Netflix will pull something out of the bag! We’ve seen a couple of still pictures from filming but no official trailer as yet.
Medici – Masters of Florence
No air date has been set yet for this drama, but based on when the first series air we should expect to see this on Netflix some time during December. As the name suggests, its a drama about the famous Medici dynasty set in 15th Century Florence. Richard Madden stars as Cosimo d’Medici. I find this series really interesting as I really like early modern history, and you can’t read about that time period in a European context without coming across the Medicis! Its a great way to learn more about the influential family, all be it with a pinch of salt.
If you’re aware of any forthcoming historical films or TV dramas that I may have missed out, let me know in the comments below!