Saturday, 18 April 2015

Dan Jones 'Secrets of British Castles'

Channel 5 is currently showing another Dan Jones series, this time called 'Secrets of British Castles', and this week's was about Warwick Castle.  I just KNEW it would feature the fate of Piers.  And of course, with Dan Jones' usual colloquialisms.  I was right on both counts.  OK, it's wonderful to have a series on castles, especially ones you've been to, and the scenery was fantastic.  Unfortunately, you have to put up with 'potted' history, with mere snippets of what actually happened.  So, we have an 'idle, naive' Edward as king, and a 'rude and obnoxious' Piers.   We were 'treated' to actors playing the parts of them, and they didn't speak a word but walked around in silence looking terribly serious.  Edward looked about 50 years old, thoroughly miserable, and dressed in black, and Piers looked less than half his age with a pudding bowl haircut, which made them seem like 'the odd couple'.  They didn't look in the least like a hedonistic couple, which would perhaps have explained the attraction.

Dan Jones says Edward liked nothing more than hanging around with his 'best mate' when he should have been running the country.  He doesn't say they were 'making out' all the time though, which is something.  He speculates on the relationship - were they lovers, friends, a brotherhood, or 'something else' - hmmm, how about father and son, judging by the actors playing them!   There's no mention of Queen Isabella, Piers wife and his previous exiles.

We hear of Piers being exiled, and how Guy of Warwick captured him when he returned 'on the road to Deddington' - as if Piers had been out for a stroll.  No mention of the siege of Scarborough Castle and Pembroke's promise whilst he was in custody.   Jones does say that Piers was subjected to a 'kangaroo' court with no chance of justice.  But then we're told Piers was 'dragged kicking and screaming, begging for mercy' to Blacklow Hill.  All presented as truth.  And Jones adds that Edward would have his revenge - which he did with his cousin Thomas of Lancaster, and also attributes Guy of Warwick's demise to Edward.  Undoubtedly Edward would have taken his revenge, but there's no evidence he was connected with the death of Warwick.

If it's any consolation, other stories connected with Warwick Castle didn't fair any better, particularly those of Warwick the Kingmaker, and Daisy, Countess of Warwick.  Still, it was great to see that fabulous castle.


Kathryn Warner said...

Hmmmm, this sounds really weird. Not sure if I want to watch it online or not really - someone on Facebook warned me that I'd end up spitting with rage if I did, haha! I laughed at 'best mate' - funny how no-one has ever called Roger Mortimer Queen Isabella's 'best mate', isn't it? On the plus side, at least you get to see the gorgeous Warwick Castle, I suppose, but the reconstruction of Edward and Piers just sounds bizarre.

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I know Mr Jones had many fans, but I am not one of them. After what I read in his Plantagenets, I suppose. Somehow I did not like his approach to half-legends. He presented them as if they were real events.

Coming to his defence, however, I am sure the reconstruction of Edward and Piers was not his doing. He's just a host, after all.

Anerje said...

LOL Kathryn - yes, Mortimer must have been Isa's 'best mate' as well!

Kasia - Dan Jones may well be the host, but he has written about Ed and Piers before. It's just his presenting style. I know I will sound totally 'up myself', but the programme is meant for a broad appeal - not for those of us with a keen interest/knowledge. Otherwise it would be on BBC 4:)

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

You certainly have a point, Anerje :-) But I remember that you were pleasantly surprised after what he told about Edward and Piers in his previous documentary.

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

I know what you mean by his presenting style - the lady who wrote such silly things about Ed and Piers (you mentioned her here some time before) also used "Piers the boyfriend" phrase. I hate when people do this. Total lack of repsect. And they call themselves historians :-(