Everyone has their own views of Mary, Queen of Scots. Over four hundred years after her death, she still sparks debate amongst historians and the public alike. Was she a woman so determined to succeed or usurp the English throne from her cousin that would lead to her execution? Or was she simply a pawn in royal politics from her childhood; passed around in the French court, left deserted when widowed, and abused by the men around her.
This October, a new period drama based on Mary’s journey as a youth at the French court will be shown on American screens on The CW Television Network. It has been rumoured that the series will then be broadcasted in Britain in the near future. ‘Reign’ will be aired after the channel’s showing of ‘The Vampire Diaries’. This suggests that this new period drama will have the same audience and similar themes to the award-winning supernatural series; we can certainly expect plenty of love, sex and bloodshed in this new drama. Producers of the series have said that the programme has been created to interest a younger audience into the political world of the sixteenth century Europe.
One way they have planned to do this is by casting young and attractive actors for the main characters. For characters such as Mary and Francis you would expect this, as they were in their teens at the time of their marriage. Sporting a degree of fashionable stubble, Toby Regbo will play Mary’s young husband, Francis, who would go on to be king; albeit only for a brief time before his untimely death from illness.
However the producers have twisted the age of a fifty-something year old French apothecary character into a chiselled young man in his twenties, played by Rossif Sutherland, in the hope to appeal to younger viewers.
This will not be the only historical inaccuracy of the series. Just from the adverts released, you can note a number of possible issues. Adelaide Kane is an Australian actor by birth and plays the leading lady Mary with a distinctively English accent. Mary had a very distinct French accent that she acquired from being amongst the French court from a young age and this accent did not fade even though she lived a large proportion of her later life in Scotland and England.
Viewers may also find it strange when they witness a French ball with modern-day music playing. The creators have certainly tried to bring history into the interest of twenty-first century audiences. Inaccuracies such as these may deter some viewers, however some may be able to look past the issues and just enjoy the fact that this controversial historical figure will be shown in our living rooms very soon.
‘Reign’ will begin with Mary’s experiences at the French court at the age of fifteen and follow her journey for two years there. Just as we are used to discussing the dynamics of the English royal court over the centuries, the French court was not dissimilar in the sense of schemes, marriage alliances, gossip and sexual politics. Her ladies-in-waiting will be shown to be her closest confidents.
Reviews and critics have given the impression that this series will portray Mary as a notable beauty at court; so much so that a number of love-triangles seem to form just by her mere presence – (she was noted by contemporaries to be considerably more beautiful that her cousin, Elizabeth) – but this may seem somewhat far-fetched.
Alongside this, members of the Scottish tourism sector may hope for a sudden surge in American interest in the famous Scottish landscape due to the show, but visitors may be disappointed to find that most of the filming took place in Ireland and Canada instead.
The series premiere will be on 17th October in the United States on The CW. The date of the showing in the UK is to be confirmed.