What is the plot of Jodie Turner-Smith's Anne Boleyn TV series?
Set to be produced by the UK's Channel 5, the feminist drama series is being described as a psychological thriller that will cover the final months of Anne Boleyn's life. Per the network, it "follows [Boleyn] as she struggles to survive, to secure a future for her daughter, and to challenge the powerful patriarchy closing in around her". According to Deadline, it will also examine "the brutal reality of her failure to provide Henry with a male heir".
Most known for being the infamous King Henry VIII's second wife, Boleyn was the Queen of England from 1533 until her husband accused her of treason and adultery, and she was tragically beheaded in 1536. While the historical details are a bit unclear, it's been estimated that she was somewhere between the ages of 28 and 35 at the time, with her death causing the upheaval that eventually drove the English Reformation.
Who Stars In Jodie Turner-Smith's Anne Boleyn Series?
Channel 5's Anne Boleyn series boasts one impressive ensemble cast, with much of the show set to focus around the following characters.
Jodie Turner-Smith as Anne Boleyn
Leading the cast, of course, is Turner-Smith who will play the famous Tudor Queen, Anne Boleyn. Turner-Smith received critical acclaim for her acting chops after appearing in the 2020 film Queen & Slim. Other notable credits on the British actress and model's CV include the films The Last Ship (2017) and Nightflyers (2018).
Interestingly, she made her acting debut in 2013 as a siren in the vampire drama series True Blood, and in appeared in a number of music videos before her first film role in 2017, including Zayn Malik's "Pillowtalk".
On her upcoming role as Anne Boleyn, Turner-Smith told Vogue US that she could still relate to the iconic royal, saying that much of her story still felt "modern".
"There’s so much about her story that feels modern. It’s one I can relate to as a Black woman, and it shows how little has changed in terms of our desire to tear down powerful women, to not let them live in their truth," she said.
Speaking to Deadline in 2020, the series' screenwriter Eve Hedderwick Turner told Deadline that Turner-Smith was a perfect fit for the part.
“Jodie is a complete natural queen. She is magnetic and has this deep dignity that she brings to the part," she said.
Mark Stanley as Henry VIII
Game of Thrones star Mark Stanley will take on the role of the notorious King Henry VIII, who famously had six wives during his reign. Aside from GoT, Stanley's previous onscreen credits include White Horse Farm, Sanditon and Dickensian.
Lola Petticrew as Jane Seymour
Actress Lola Petticrew will play another one of Henry VIII's wives, namely his third: Jane Seymour. Seymour was also known for being Anne Boleyn's rival, and succeeded Boleyn as queen consort after Boleyn was executed. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son, who became King Edward VI.
Petticrew has previously starred in A Bump Along the Way, Wolf and Dating Amber.
Anna Brewster as Jane Boleyn
Anna Brewster is all set to take on the role of Anne Boleyn's devious and scheming sister-in-law, Jane Boleyn. According to history, Jane Boleyn was the wife of the Viscount Rochford, who was Anne Boleyn's brother. Jane had also been a member of the household of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, and was thought to have played a role enabling the executions of her husband and Anne Boleyn. She later became lady-in-waiting to the king's third and fourth wives, and finally his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, with whom she was executed.
Brewster's previous onscreen roles include The Last Days of American Crime, Hurt By Paradise and Versaille.
Paapa Essiedu as the George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
Fresh off the success of the critically acclaimed I May Destroy You, Paapa Essiedu will portray the role of Anne's brother, George Boleyn, also known as the Viscount Rochford. George was an English courtier who had a prominent role in the politics of the early 1530s, and was the maternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth I.
Aside from I May Destroy You, Essiedu is a well-respected theatre actor, who has won awards for his portrayal of the titular character in Hamlet, and Edmund in King Lear, both at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Isabella Laughland as Elizabeth Browne
Playing the part of Elizabeth Browne (later known as Elizabeth Sommerset), a friend and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, is Isabella Laughland. As the story goes, Elizabeth was a companion to Anne, only to become the main informant against her, and was also thought to have been King Henry VIII's mistress.
Laughland's best-known previous roles include appearances as Leanne in the Harry Potter film franchise, Trigonometry and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Aoife Hinds as Princess Mary
Aoife Hinds will play the part of Princess Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, and later by the Protestant opponents during her reign, "Bloody Mary". She was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood.
Hinds has also appeared in Normal People, The Commuter and The Nightflyers.
Rounding out the cast is James Harkness (The Victim) as Constable of the Tower William Kingston; Kris Hitchen (Sorry We Missed You) as Anne Boleyn's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk; Turlough Covery (Saint Maud) as Henry Norris, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and Barry Ward (White Lines) as King Henry VIII’s closest and most powerful advisor, Thomas Cromwell.
Also joining them is Jamael Westman (West End's production of Hamilton) as Jane Seymour's ambitious brother Edward; Thalissa Texeira (Two Weeks to Live) as Anne's confidant and cousin, Madge Shelton; and Amanda Burton (White House Farm) as Governess Lady Anne Shelton.
What is the release date for Jodie Turner-Smith's Anne Boleyn series?
The drama is currently in production on location in Leeds, England, but is expected to premiere "later this year" on Channel 5 in the UK, per Entertainment Weekly, and will hopefully have an Australian release either around the same time or not long after.
Stay tuned for more details!