Life and Intrigue in Tudor Britain

Life and Intrigue in Tudor Britain

A Collection of BBC Radio Historical Docu Dramas


Six gripping dramatised documentaries detailing the history of the turbulent Tudor period.

Passion, power, sex and suspicious deaths – the Tudor story is one of drama and dysfunction, and it has kept us enthralled for over 400 years. In these six dramatised documentaries, we take a behind-the-scenes look at Tudor England and get to know the key characters we have grown to love and hate, such as Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Compiled from contemporary sources by Alison Plowman and featuring first-hand accounts and letters, these thrilling, historically accurate retellings bring this tumultuous era to vivid life.

The Most Unhappy Lady spans three critical years in the life of Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and later Queen of England. It begins in 1533, when her father divorces her mother and marries Anne Boleyn. Refusing to accept the validity of Henry’s actions, Mary finds herself facing danger and disgrace…

In Elizabeth's Admiral, we follow the events which took place in the immediate aftermath of Henry VIII’s death in 1547 – events which led to the execution of the Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour and came near to seriously compromising the future of the 15-year-old Princess Elizabeth.

The Killing at Kirk O’Field, set between March 1566 and June 1567, tells the tragic tale of the murder of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary Queen of Scots: a crime that remains one of the most controversial 'whodunnits' of all time.

Chance or Villainy? explores the mysterious death of Amy Robsart in 1560. Her husband, Lord Robert Dudley, was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and was rumoured to be having an affair with her – so when Amy was found dead at the foot of a staircase, it seemed that a serious crisis might ensue…

In A Knot of Secret Might, we hear the ill-fated love story of Lady Katherine Grey, sister of the doomed ‘Nine-Day Queen’ Lady Jane Grey. And in The Great Enterprise, 1588, we are transported back to sixteenth-century Spain, as Philip II prepares to launch his ‘Invincible Armada’...

Among the ensemble casts of these superb docu-dramas are Beryl Calder, Haydn Jones, Marjorie Westbury, Kathleen Helme, Patricia Leventon, Nerys Hughes and Roger Delgado.

Compiled from contemporary sources by Alison Plowden
Special thanks to Keith Wickham for Archive material.

The Most Unhappy Lady
Produced by Joe Burroughs
First broadcast BBC Home Service, 22 Dec 1964

Elizabeth’s Admiral (A Pattern of Tudors)
Produced by Joe Burroughs
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 24 Apr 1968

The Killing at Kirk O’Field
Produced by Alison Plowden
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 18 Sep 1969

Chance or Villainy? (A Pattern of Tudors)
Produced by Joe Burroughs
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 4 Feb 1966

A Knot of Secret Might
Produced by Richard Wortley
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 20 Oct 1970

The Great Enterprise, 1588 (A Pattern of Tudors)
Produced by Joe Burroughs
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 11 Aug 1968

© 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

About the author

Alison Plowden

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