BBC Two and BBC Four to accompany TV broadcast of Wolf Hall with collection of new factual programmes taking viewers deeper into the Tudor world

BBC Two celebrates the art and culture of the Tudors whilst BBC Four takes viewers deeper into the reality of what life was like in Tudor times.Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four
Date: 08.12.2014     Last updated: 19.12.2014 at 12.35
As Hampton Court Palace marks its 500th anniversary in 2015, from next January BBC Two and Four will air a collection of factual programmes celebrating the art and culture of the Tudor era and taking viewers deeper into the reality of life in the Tudor world, to complement BBC Two’s landmark drama Wolf Hall.

  • Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court on BBC Two recreates the christening of Edward VI in 1537, presented by Lucy Worsley and David Starkey
  • Waldemar Januszczak presents Holbein: Eye of the Tudors – A Culture Show Special for BBC Two
  • Dr Suzannah Lipscomb returns to explore the Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home on BBC Four
  • Michael Wood presents his latest film, looking at the life of one particularly important woman in Mary Arden: A Tudor Life on BBC Four.

Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four says: “As BBC Two airs its landmark drama Wolf Hall, and with the popularity of Hilary Mantel’s novels capturing a real British appetite for this period of history, BBC Two And BBC Four are offering a complementary collection of art and history films that put the real Tudors firmly in the spotlight.

“This collection of programmes demonstrates how the two channels can work in a unique way to take viewers deeper into the world of the Tudors with BBC Two celebrating the art and culture of the Tudors whilst BBC Four takes viewers deeper into the reality of what life was like in Tudor times.”

Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court
BBC Two

As Hampton Court Palace celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2015, BBC Two brings a key event from the iconic building’s history vividly to life - the christening of Henry’s son and heir Prince Edward, the future Edward VI.

With so few surviving buildings left associated with events from this period of British history and the reign of Henry VIII, Lucy Worsley and David Starkey offer audiences an unprecedented insight into Henry VIII’s world. Focusing on the events of 15 October 1537, Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court will recreate the occasion that was a culmination of nearly three decades of Henry’s rule - the birth of a male heir. As Lucy and David eavesdrop across time, they reveal how Henry’s household came together to create an event that would have been perceived as almost magical by those who witnessed it.

They will recreate the 90-person grand procession that would have transported baby Edward to his torch-lit christening service. This was the best recorded occasion staged at Hampton Court during Henry's VIII's reign, and the detailed records allow Lucy and David to show how this great celebration used every part of the palace, from the royal apartments to the kitchens to the Chapel Royal.

Offering a unique opportunity to reveal how the many elements of court life would have been brought together, from art to architecture, religion and music, Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court will capture a pageant that was deeply political but also carefully stage-managed piece of performance art.

Holbein: Eye Of The Tudors – A Culture Show Special
BBC Two

As Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein witnessed and recorded the most notorious era in English history. He painted most of the major characters of the age, and created the famous image of the king himself that everyone today still recognises. But who really was Holbein? Where did he come from? And what were the dark and unsettling secrets hidden in his art? Waldemar Januszczak looks at the life and work of an artist who became famous for bringing the Tudor age to life, but who could have been so many other things.

Hidden Killers Of The Tudor Home
BBC Four

In Hidden Killers Of The Tudor Home, Dr Suzannah Lipscomb ventures into the Tudor home in search of the household killers of the era.

The Tudor era was a great age, one of exploration and science, and a time when adventurers returned from the New World with exotic goods never before seen or experiences in Europe. It was an era in which the newly emergent middle-classes found they had money for luxuries and early consumer goods for the very first time, but in discovering these goods they also learned of their hidden dangers. The period also saw a radical evolution of the very idea of the ‘home’, for Tudor merchant’s houses became multi-room structures instead of the single room habitations that had been the norm up until that point. This forced the homebuilders of the day to engineer radical new design solutions and technologies – some of which were lethal.

In Hidden Killers Of The Tudor Home, Suzannah explores how in Tudor houses the threat of a grisly, unpleasant death was never far away in a world, or indeed home, still mired in the grime and filth of the Medieval period – and how we still live with the legacy of some of these killers today.

Mary Arden: A Tudor Life
BBC Four

Whilst Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies, The Tudors and The Boleyn Girls present the glittering – though at times terrifying – world of the Tudor court on TV and in literature, a new BBC Four film looks at what life was like for ordinary Tudor people. In particular, this film tells the story of a woman touched by new opportunities in society, work and education in a century that saw the birth of England’s cultural and economic greatness.

In his latest film, Michael Wood pieces together the life of Mary Arden, the daughter of a 100-acre farmer in a small village in Warwickshire. Mary had eight children, three of whom died young, and went through many family disasters and tragedies. But what makes Mary’s life especially fascinating is that one of her sons was William Shakespeare.

Using local documents and government archives, peasants wills and prisoners diaries; teasing out clues in landscapes from the Cotswolds to the Tower of London, Michael Wood uncovers the fascinating tale of a life which spanned one of most dramatic periods of change in our history: her childhood during the last years of Henry VIII; her youth under Mary Tudor, in the last days of Catholic England, and her married life through the reign of Elizabeth, to her death under James I - by which time her son William was a well-off royal servant and the most famous poet of the age.

Mary Arden: A Tudor Life asks what role a Tudor woman had, working on the farm with her father, and then in business with her husband; whether she could read and write; how she brought up her children; the stories she told, and the beliefs she passed down in an age of religious persecution; and how the political battles of the Elizabethan state could touch even an ordinary family.

Notes To Editors

  • Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court - was commissioned for BBC Two by Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and Mark Bell, Head of Arts Commissioning. It is a BBC Arts production in partnership Historic Royal Palaces.
  • The executive producer is Mike Poole, and the series producer is John Das.  
  • Publicity contact: SH6 

  • Holbein: Eye of the Tudors – A Culture Show Special is a ZCZ production. It was commissioned by Mark Bell, Head of Arts Commissioning. The executive producer for ZCZ is Peter Grimsdale, and the executive producer for BBC Arts is Janet Lee.
  • Publicity contact: FD  
  • Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home was commissioned for BBC Four by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four and Tom McDonald, A/Head of Science Commissioning. It is a Modern TV production for BBC Four. Sarah Broughton and Jobim Sampson are the executive producers for Modern TV. The producer/director is Suzanne Phillips, and the BBC Commissioning Editor is Clare Paterson. 
  • Publicity contact: FD

  • Mary Arden: A Tudor Life was commissioned for BBC Four by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four and Mark Bell, Head of Arts Commissioning. It is a Maya Vision production for BBC Four, the Producer for Maya Vision is Rebecca Dobbs, the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is James Hayes. 
  • Publicity contact: FD