Hysterically inaccurate … sorry, that should be ‘historically’!

Inevitably, as an historian, I am drawn to TV programmes that deal with the past. There’s an awful lot of hype re Wolf Hall (let’s hope it’s better than the book!). And dear old David Starkey is about to give us his take on Magna Carta. Starkey says (quite rightly) that it is surprising that the Prime Minister, expensively educated at Eton, did not know what it meant. What is even more surprising is that Starkey calls the misunderstood old document the Magna Carta, which is 100% incorrect as the definite article in Latin was rarely used and never in the context of Magna Carta.

Which brings me on to the Musketeers. Producer Colin Wratten, writing in the Weekend Mail hopes we’re all enjoying it and thinks they’ve all done a pretty good job of recreating 17th century France. It’s not the backdrops that are flawed, Colin; it’s everything else. It looks a little bit like the Wild West has come to Paris, France. The broad-brimmed hats are lifted at the side like stetsons. In PR stills the boys all stand around with legs apart like wannabe John Waynes. And when they whip out their six-shooter – er – sorry – wheel-lock pistols, they never miss, even at an impossible yardage. In this series, we have a black Spanish general – there were so many of those in the 17th century! Leave it to Alexandre Dumas, Colin, there’s a dear!

So, with my love of the past, it is just as well everything on the TV is a repeat!


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