There’s a new queen in town.
Variety can reveal the first look of “Queen & Slim” actor Jodie Turner-Smith as Tudor queen Anne Boleyn — the most notorious of Henry VIII’s wives, best known for her untimely demise by execution — in three-part psychological thriller “Anne Boleyn” for ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5. The show wrapped production on location in Yorkshire in December, and is set to air later this year.
Produced by Fable Pictures and Sony Pictures Television, “Anne Boleyn” garnered headlines last year for Turner-Smith’s casting, which marks one of a handful of times a Black actor has portrayed a major royal figure on a British terrestrial broadcaster. More recently, Sophie Okonedo played Queen of England Margaret, who was married to Henry VI, in the BBC’s “The Hollow Crown.” She starred opposite Benedict Cumberbatch.
“Anne Boleyn” — which is gearing up to be Channel 5’s boldest commission to date as it marks its first three years in drama commissioning — will explore the final months of Boleyn’s life from her perspective, as she struggles to secure a future for her daughter and challenge the powerful patriarchy closing in around her. The series will depict the key moments that cause Anne to topple, reflecting her strength, fatal vulnerabilities and determination to be an equal among men.
The ensemble cast includes Paapa Essiedu (“I May Destroy You,” “Gangs of London”) as Anne’s brother and Tudor nobleman George Boleyn. As revealed by Variety, Mark Stanley (“White House Farm”) is Henry VIII, and Lola Petticrew (“Dating Amber”) is Anne’s love rival Jane Seymour.
Elsewhere, Barry Ward (“White Lines,” “Des”) is King Henry VIII’s closest and most powerful advisor Thomas Cromwell, Jamael Westman (West End’s “Hamilton”) is Jane Seymour’s ambitious brother Edward, Amanda Burton (“White House Farm,” “Silent Witness”) is stoic Governess Lady Anne Shelton, and Thalissa Teixeira (“Two Weeks to Live,” “Trigonometry”) is Anne’s loyal confidante and cousin Madge Shelton.
Newcomer Eve Hedderwick Turner has penned the three-part series, which is directed by Lynsey Miller (“Deadwater Fell,” “Doing Money,” “The Boy With The Topknot”).
“Anne Boleyn” is produced by Faye Ward and Hannah Farrell through the London-based outfit Fable Pictures. The series was commissioned by Channel 5 controller Ben Frow, deputy director of programs Sebastian Cardwell and Sony Pictures Television’s president of international production Wayne Garvie. Historian Dan Jones serves as executive producer.
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