Spousal wisdom passed on about a couple of programmes – The Tudors and How The Edwardians Spoke

I still haven’t convinced her to watch any Heroes, but my wife has been providing input on a couple of programmes. Since some of you seemed to be interested in her opinions, I thought I’d pass them on.

First up, I introduced her to The Tudors. She’s on a bit of a Tudor thing at the moment, and is practically begging to go to Hampton Court some time soon, so I thought I’d give her something in the interim. Her verdict? “Everything’s out of sync. Henry’s too serious: at that point he was much more happy-go-lucky. Buckingham was more powerful and had Henry’s ear, too.” And Jonathan Rhys Meyers looks absolutely nothing like Henry is supposed to. So, entertaining as it might be, the general verdict is that timelines have been accelerated and various things fudged to make it entertaining.

We also tuned into How The Edwardians Spoke on BBC4 on Sunday. Within the last four years, a load of recordings made of British prisoners of war by an Austrian academic have turned up. The general idea of the programme, we thought, was to show how accents have changed since the time of the Edwardians. Could have been good, no?

Instead, we got an accent coach zooming round the country, patronising people and bursting into sniffles at the slightest provocation – but precious little hard information on accent change.

To me, it had all the signs of BBC4-ness and an over-commission: give a producer an hour then they discover there’s only half an hour to fill it with, so a load of completely redundant waffling is added. It seemed more like a vanity trip for the accent coach rather than anything else. Could we not have had a professor of linguistics or something?

My wife’s verdict was much the same and since she’s an expert on such matters, I’ll pass it on to you. “It’s rubbish. Her theory on accents is ridiculous.” Said accent coach seemed to believe that accents mirror the surrounding country – if the country is wide and open, you get wide open vowels; if it’s flat, you get flatness; and so on.

‘Course, you don’t need to be an expert to recognise that as rubbish, but it is nice to be vindicated by one…