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Richard's story in TV spotlight

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A new historical TV drama is set to thrust Richard III back into the national spotlight.

The White Queen charts the years leading up to the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard was killed in action, through the eyes of the women in the royal courts.

The epic 10-part series, which begins tomorrow on BBC1, is described as a "stunningly rich tale of love and loss, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder".

The White Queen is based on Philippa Gregory's best-selling historical novel series The Cousins' War.

Emma Frost, who has dramatised the book for the television series, has told how the figure of Richard III cast a spooky shadow over the filming of the series in Belgium last year.

She said: "We all avidly followed the news about a skeleton being found in a car park in Leicester. Like many people we just assumed it would not be Richard III, but when it was revealed it was him we were astonished.

"It was particularly eerie for Aneurin Barnard, the actor playing Richard III, because just as he was bringing him to life, the remains of a king were being lifted out of car park in Leicester.

"It was surreal. Another member of the cast tweeted that Aneurin was going to extraordinary lengths to grab the limelight on the set."

The drama follows the story of the War of the Roses, which ended with the slaying of Richard III at Bosworth.

The programme's three main female protagonists are Richard III's sister-in-law, Elizabeth Woodville, his wife, Anne Neville, and Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth.

Oadby historian David Baldwin, who has written books about Richard III and Elizabeth Woodville, said: "The story has a lot of connections to Leicestershire.

"Elizabeth Woodville, before marrying Edward IV, was married to Sir John Grey and would have lived for some time at Groby Old Hall, which still stands today.

"Sir John was a local knight and an ancestor of Lady Jane Grey. Depending on which source you believe, Elizabeth was as young as 13 when she married and just 14 when she had her first child, but Sir John was killed in battle in 1461 and she went on to marry Edward.

"We know a lot more about her life after she became queen, of course, because the chroniclers of the age were paying much more attention to her."

Anne Neville, Richard III's wife, was also the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, described as the "kingmaker" who put Edward – Richard's brother and Elizabeth's husband – on the throne.

The history books reveal that Anne paid a visit to Leicester during her husband's short reign, but died before his defeat at Bosworth.

David said: "Anne married Richard before he became king and we know she spent three days in Leicester with Richard in the course of their post-coronation tour of their kingdom in August, 1483.

"They stayed at the castle.

"But she was quite sickly and died some months before the Battle of Bosworth."

David said the programme would help keep the popularity of the story of Richard III alive.

He said: "The excitement of finding the skeleton can't continue for ever, but this sort of thing is likely to keep things ticking over."

The White Queen begins on BBC 1 at 9pm tomorrow.

Richard's story in TV spotlight


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