A Call for the BBC to rerun The Shadow of the Tower (1972)

Many of you will be aware of recent television dramas The White Queen and The Tudors, two popular if historically dubious series’ which pulled in big ratings and produced large interest in the press.

The forerunner of such adaptations is the lesser known ‘The Shadow of the Tower’, charting the reign of Henry VII and broadcast on the BBC in 1972. I call on the BBC to once again show this wonderful series on one of their many channels and introduce the fascinating time of Henry VII, as intrepretated by decorated actors such as James Maxwell, to a new audience.

I recently sent this letter to the Corporation and sincerely hope for a positive review.

“I write to you regarding the 1972 BBC Television series ‘The Shadow of the Tower’. As you may be aware, the Tudor period is currently a genre enjoying great popularity in many mediums, including television. The BBC’s recent co-production of The White Queen was deemed a great success for the channel and enjoyed pleasing viewing figures for the Corporation, as did the channel’s recent syndication of The Tudors. The original Tudor drama, and perhaps in many peoples opinion the best, was The Shadow of the Tower, which featured incredible acting performances from noted thespians like James Maxwell and Norma West. Whilst television dramas from over forty years ago will never be able to compete visually with the modern technology and money available to today’s productions, the Shadow of the Tower is certainly capable of holding its own based on its strong script and great character acting.

It was a disappointment to discover this series is only available on Amazon by purchasing the Dutch version. I would urge the BBC to act on two accounts regarding this programme. Firstly, I would encourage the BBC to re-release the series on a UK-marketed DVD, something which you may find would be relatively successful in the market. I know through experience that the Dutch version does put people off in spite of the actual programme being fundamentally the same.

Secondly I would actually encourage the BBC to show the series on television once more, for example on the BBC Four channel or late night BBC Two. With adequate promotion this could be a minor success for the channel. The series currently holds a rating of 4/5 on Amazon UK based on 41 reviews whilst it holds a rating of 7.8/10 on IMDb based on 71 reviews, both positive results.

Shadow of the Tower does not deserve to be a little remembered series from over forty years ago. The story, acting and characters should be enjoyed by a new generation, eager to consume as much Tudor history as can be produced”

I look forward to your thoughts and sincerely hope you find a way to re-broadcast this wonderful gem in the BBC archive”.


5 thoughts on “A Call for the BBC to rerun The Shadow of the Tower (1972)

  1. I can remember watching. The shadow of the tower when it first appeared on Tv and it was then I became very interested in Henry 7th. I have the book that was published at that time. I recently bought the DVD which is subtitled which is a great shame. I thought I was on my own with my interest in Henry but after seeing the Lucy Worsley programme I see that I am certainly not.
    Please show the series again . It left a lasting impression in me

  2. I agree. I would love to see a remake of this series. With current technology they could recreate the battles and the courts of other countries. And not only that, but the shadow of the crown is to date the series that gives the most accurate depiction of Henry while still being fair and balanced to everyone else.

  3. I would have been 12 going on 13 when I watched this series on my headmasters B&W telly ( I was at prep school). I had previously seen ‘Six Wives’, ‘Eliz. I’ and needless to say, I don’t recall the historic details other than the horrific ways to be tortured and put to death, but from out of all 25 episodes of the Tudor trilogy the one that stuck in my mind (and remembered the title of ) was Ep7 ‘A Fly In the Ointment’ mainly for its opening scene of nudity – and probably my first experience of glimpsing the naked female form! However, my oh so vivid memory of this opener differs somewhat from the one I have seen recently on YouTube. My recollection is that the scene starts with an overhead view of a couple lying on a bed. The image is at first out-of-focus or softened, but as the camera closes in, the bed-sheets are suitably placed over the otherwise naked man’s lower body and the slim woman is lying on her back beside him naked and full frontal to the camera; they are talking; it was only as the camera angle changes that I realised I had just watched a fully exposed, naked woman on television. The YouTube version does indeed show a couple, from a back of room point-of-view, in bed and fully covered under blankets; the camera then pans round from the back of the room to the side of the bed where the man is sleeping, the woman rouses, looks over to her husand/lover and then slowly unfolds herself from the bed, is briefly seen in shadowy full frontal nakedness before turning and walking over to the window, gathers up her attire from off a side table (further glimpse of naked breast) and then exits left, unclothed. That is not how I remembered it, yet I am correct in detail of episode name and opening sequence. Therefore, I wonder if I have either seen this scene elsewhere in the series or that this scene was specifically re-shot for, say, the American market who were then quite prudish when it came to such exposure of the female form in primetime tv drama, or am I completely wrong in what I recall seeing? Unfortunately there is little information regarding the making of this series with only Wikipedia (that fount of all knowledge!), providing a cast list and little else.

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