History on the telly just seems to be getting more and more popular. If it’s not enough that Dr Lucy Worsley has an entire channel devoted to her (they call it BBC4), now Channel 5 has gotten into the act with this stirring tale of three centuries of feuding, murder, betrayal, lust, greed, beheadings and extremely nasty genital mutilations.
The series begins with the foundation of the dynasty by Henry II, then cherrypicks the family’s biggest misfits before concluding with Richard II and his spat with Henry Bolingbroke. Cue a thunderous, Hollywood action movie style score and dramatic reconstructions that are a bit more extensive that your usual montages of flashing swords and galloping horses, because you also get things like Queen Isabella rolling around lustily in bed with Roger Mortimer.
It’s a tale full of machismo and aggression, and Dan Snow is just the man to tell it. Dressed in black, he strides about like the Terminator through various sites of historical interest as he traces the rise and fall of this bunch of slags and villains. His narration might have all the subtlety of a Sun headline (“Henry’s messed it up big time”), but he weaves this muddle of slimy kings, bolshy barons and slighted wives into a memorably vivid tapestry: his account of the Peasants’ Revolt is particularly gripping. Fast moving and nicely shot, Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty does a fine job of sexing up England’s early history for the Games of Thrones crowd.