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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the best 'till last
This series comes from a truly 'golden age' of BBC drama - when the Beeb supplied the drama/actors/script, and a.n.other supplied the cash! It was the third of the 'Tudors' trilogy of series, the first being 'Six Wives of Henry VIII' and the second 'Elizabeth R' (with Gelnda Jackson, THE Elizabeth for many people).

The series of thirteen linked plays covers key...
Published on 7 May 2011 by Peter Merritt

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Least successful of the trilogy
This thirteen part BBC series was the prequel to the hugely successful Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R. It falls short of those two series. Partly the casting is not as strong. Although James Maxwell is impressive, he doesn't quite match Keith Michell or Glenda Jackson and the supporting cast is rather anonymous. I found the structure of 13 plays difficult to...
Published on 18 April 2012 by UK Scribe


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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the best 'till last, 7 May 2011
By 
Peter Merritt "13th Musketeer" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
This series comes from a truly 'golden age' of BBC drama - when the Beeb supplied the drama/actors/script, and a.n.other supplied the cash! It was the third of the 'Tudors' trilogy of series, the first being 'Six Wives of Henry VIII' and the second 'Elizabeth R' (with Gelnda Jackson, THE Elizabeth for many people).

The series of thirteen linked plays covers key episodes in the life of Henry VII, the obscure but vitally important founder of the Tudor dynasty, from the battle of Bosworth (which effectively ended the Wars of the Roses) to his death. It was this Henry, cold but very astute, who laid the political and economic foundations of the state which his more famous son then used. He was in many ways ahead of his time (especially for an English King), being much more a 'Renaissance Prince' - he was at many battles but left the actual fighting and tactical direction to others more skilled in that area. But he thought beyond 'simple' campaigning - at least one rebellion was defeated by a proclamation!

With multiple writers you would expect the plays to be more 'patchy', but all of them work well. True, the 'early stuff' is certainly more gripping, when rebellions and usurpers threatened at every turn. And one episode is devoted to what we now know as the start of the Protestant movement; interesting but slow. However, the extra episodes do allow for greater character development in what might otherwise be simple cameos - the tragic Earl of Warwick (prisoner since the age of nine, trapped by birthright as the Yorkist heir); and most dangerous pretender Perkin Warbeck.

Anyway, if you're at all interested in historical drama (as opposed to the historically dubious 'soft porn' of the latest terrible 'Tudors' offering), BUY THIS NOW! I've waited over 30yrs for this chance - roll on the last remaining treasure, 'The Devils Crown'......
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonder for Wise Men, 14 May 2011
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
The life of Henry VII is extraordinary. He was a virtual unknown with a very dubious claim to the throne who got where he did becuase of the mistakes and misfortunes of others. He was a cautious man who took a huge gamble in challenging Richard III but the gamble paid off. The fact that Henry remained King of England until the day he died and handed a secure and solvent kingdom to his much more famous son Henry VIII was amazing given the insecurity of the early years of the Tudor dynasty.

That insecurity and its consequences forms a large part of "The Shadow of the Tower". How Henry VII triumphed over almost every challenge is key to the story. The character of the King is the thread that holds all of the plays together and the performance of James Maxwell is brilliant in bringing Henry to life. Henry VII has been described as the cleverest man ever to sit on the throne of England. That comes across very well; shrewdness, cunning, sometimes ruthlessness. But humour too - and compassion. The episode where Henry meets a doomed "heretic" is moving and shows the King as a devout man, very much of his time and very close to the Church.

The King's humanity is brought in to focus as we see his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth of York, who begins almost as a trophy of the victory of Bosworth (and in this presentation a pretty reluctant one at that), but ends as a loved and lamented Queen.

The picture of some key characters is good: Perkin Warbeck is shown as a flashy fantasist pushed reluctantly to his fate. The Earl of Warwick is portrayed as an innocent pawn and his judicial murder is a dreadful stain on Henry's reputation.

A bonus disc includes "The Innocent" which gives a more detailed assessment of Warwick's tale - here he is played by a very youthful Robert Powell and James Maxwell shows why he was the natural choice to play the king in the later series.

Don't buy this if you want extravagant sets, rich costumes battle scenes or grand locations. The plays can seem a bit disjointed and some work better than others. They are a world away from "The Tudors" and are all the better for that.

The impression left is that "The Shadow of the Tower" lacks some of the impact of "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" or "Elizabeth R". I hadn't seen these since I was in my teens in a very flaky black and white TV broadcast when BBC2 reception wasn't too reliable. But since those days when my interest in the Tudors was ignited by the trilogy of Tudor series I have really wanted to see "The Shadow of the Tower" again. My interest in the Tudors has been life-long and my love of history propelled me, a Secondary Modern School pupil, to study history at degree level.

I doubt very much that "The Tudors" will have such an impact. All historical drama is fiction, but the best is grounded in reality and based on good research and decent writing. "The Shadow of the Tower" has these qualities.

I would recommend this series to anyone with an interest in Henry VII - truly a "wonder for wise men".

I am puzzled as to why this BBC production is currently only available in an American or European format. Don't let that put you off - just get rid of the subtitles.

Enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Maxwell a lesson in consummate acting.., 15 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
The perfect gift for all history buffs is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

To my mind this excellent Tudor drama is outstanding, depicting the life of one of England's most successful kings, from his rather dubious claim to the throne, through the continuously turbulent reign of this determined and clever man. I admit the production values are not of present day standards, however the superb acting by most of the cast more than makes up for the latter. What one has to remember is that this production was made as series of stage plays and not to be compared with that recent flashy debacle, the TUDORS.
As one reviewer put it if you want a serious representation of the period, and truly great acting then this is the production for you.
Highly recommended.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadow of the Tower, 13 Jan. 2012
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Mrs. M. Cheatham "dinki" (Solihull UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
Covers the reign of Henry VII, shown on BBC in the 70/80's. Brought back memories of seeing it on tv. Great for those with an interest in history. Only problem is that after each episode you have to reset otherwise you get Dutch with subtitles, which was annoying if you wanted to watch the episodes back to back.

This aside, I enjoyed it and glad I bought it.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Least successful of the trilogy, 18 April 2012
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UK Scribe (Bromley Kent) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
This thirteen part BBC series was the prequel to the hugely successful Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R. It falls short of those two series. Partly the casting is not as strong. Although James Maxwell is impressive, he doesn't quite match Keith Michell or Glenda Jackson and the supporting cast is rather anonymous. I found the structure of 13 plays difficult to follow. One episode might focus on religious disputes then another focuses on Cabot's exploration of America. Only towards the end of the series with the appearance of Perkin Warbeck and the reappearance of the Earl of Warwick is there any continuity of story between episodes. And some of the plays are very slow moving. So, not as impressive as I remembered from watching it first time round but worth seeing again. Why the BBC is prepared to put out a Dutch version of the series and not a UK version is a mystery - but the only subtitles are Dutch (and you need to switch them off each viewing) and all notes are in Dutch too with no English translation. Two extras - an earlier black and white play on the Warbeck/Warwick incident in which a very young Robert Powell is very good and an unintentionally hilarious and dated examination of the contrasting representations of Richard III and Henry Tudor by later historians.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten Gem, 1 Aug. 2012
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steve b (Dudley England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
In the shadow of the tower suffers from comparison with its contemporary s 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and 'Elizabeth R' probably for no greater reason that Henry VII is less well known than his son Henry VIII and his granddaughter Elizabeth I. Any any event not only does Henry VII deserve to be better known, to my mind he was England's greatest King, but this series is worthy of it's place in the 'Tudor Trilogy'

The series starts with Henry's victory over Richard III at Bosworth Field. It continues with his efforts to keep the throne in the face of a nobility who seem incapable of putting aside personal ambition or from not ending up on the scaffold. While the nobles are for the most part immature schoolboys Henry and his clerical advisers are practical politicians outwitting the nobles who belong in an earlier era Henry himself is completely ruthless when needed but is not vindictive or bloodthirsty. The show also makes the complicated genealogies of the houses of York, Lancaster and Tutor understandable.

A couple of episodes deal with the wider issues of heresy and the start of the age of exploration.

All in all a gem .Role on The First Churchill s on DVD>
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Historical Than Was Good For It, 17 May 2014
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
The story of Henry VII has plenty of exciting moments but the King himself was a careful, cautious man much given to political considerations; hardly the "star" that his outrageous son Henry VIII was to be. This makes a series on him less likely to appeal than Henry VIII or Elizabeth I. The result is a worthy and fair version of the King that some will find boring in parts. It studiously tries to consider everything from the religious effect of Lollardism, the various rebellions, the sad fate of the Earl of Warwick, the need for and extraction of taxes. I found it very interesting but unremitting in its treatment of some subjects. James Maxwell's version of Henry (like Alec Guiness's of Charles I) is now firmly stuck in my memory as how the real King must have been.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One-man show, 18 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
I watched this when it was first broadcast and it's a great treat to be able to see it again. But production standards for dramas of this kind have moved on in 40 years and there needs to be some sort of a caveat. The centre of it all is James Maxwell's performance as Henry VII. This is spellbinding, and when he's on screen all is well. But much of the other acting is poor, degenerating at times (e.g. the Cabot episode) to the most dreadful stage 'foreign', not far from 'shaddapayouface' to indicate that an Italian is speaking (scripts are to blame here too). The sets are comically bad, looking at times as though about 50p had been spent on each episode. And who would have thought that blow-drying was so advanced a feature of late C15th barbering! Even so, for Maxwell, who produces a nuanced and complex portrait of a king who has rarely had a very affectionate press, this is worth four stars. The cream of British character actors was wheeled out. Some acquit themselves well (Peter Jeffrey very good as the heretic e.g.). Others resort to ham or fall back on a very stagey version of 'olden days'. But Maxwell runs rings round everyone and everything else. The episodes where he is only briefly present falter - to the extent that you may want to fast-forward to the next bit with the king present. But it's Maxwell who stays in the memory (as he had for me for over 40 years!), and it's good to see that his performance still looks as marvellous as it did then.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 4 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
A fantastic series. Although the filming may be a little dated, the acting is superb and the costumes are excellent. The series explains the historical background to the rise of the Tudors and is a 'must have' if you intend watching 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and 'Elizabeth R' the two follow on series also made by the BBC.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic - every bit as good as Henry & Liz, 27 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] (DVD)
I had been trying to get this for years and it was well worth the wait. Done in the same style as Henry VIII & Elizabeth R, the only thing it doesn't have is a larger than life lead character but I think that's in keeping with what Henry VII was like. If you enjoy historically accurate drama this is for you
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The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972]
The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972] by Prudence Fitzgerald (DVD - 2011)
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