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“Being drunk on power is a heady experience” —The Cast And Crew Of My Lady Jane Talk Reimagining History

4 min read
The cast of My Lady Jane

Anywhere, but particularly in the UK, we’re hardly scraping the barrel for period dramas. No matter the channel or streaming service, there’s usually a smorgasbord of historical delights waiting, and we lap them up every time.

But what about if that esteemed history we’ve seen adapted over and over again is actually reimagined? For that, viewers need look no further than Prime Video’s My Lady Jane, bursting onto the platform loud, proud, and with an abundance of creative swearing.

If Horrible Histories somehow had a televised baby with Six The Musical, it would probably look something like this — and that’s a high compliment. Viewers follow a new interpretation of Jane Grey herself, as she is unexpectedly crowned queen overnight and finds herself the target of villains. Refreshingly, she’s the saviour of her own story, rather than being executed. 

“We were inspired by the book, which is an incredible source material, which is a metaphor for the schism between Catholics and Protestants in Tudor times,” said executive producers Gemma Burgess and Meredith Glynn. “That was an extraordinary premise. It is really intelligent book. It’s really compassionate, really, really funny. So using that as the starting point was amazing.

“Jane is always our North Star. She’s always the thing that we follow and is the emotional journey for the audience. Because we take that so seriously, you play in other ways around her. We have the freedom to be silly, but we always know where to stop.”

With a stacked cast of newbies and British acting stalwarts alike, it’s clear that it’s not just the story itself that’s having bags of fun. 

“It was a joy every day as there was such a lovely cast and crew. Jokes galore,” Kate O’Flynn explains. 

Mairead Tyers adds “It was so fun to play a character I think is quite cheeky and brash. After the first episode when Susanna went against her independence and freedom, you see her being a bit more confident. It was quite fun to have that evolution. And also just as actors, we had so much fun. It always felt like we’re pushing each other to be mischievous when we shouldn’t have been.”

Both O’Flynn and Jordan Peters felt that sitting on the throne gave them some lessons that they weren’t expecting. 

“How drunk on power you get and it’s so it’s such a heady experience. We both loved it in different ways,” O’Flynn says of their characters, Princess Mary and King Edward VI.

“If it’s one thing, there are consequences. Kings don’t have any friends of subjects,” Peters adds.

Two faces you’ll definitely recognise are Rob Brydon (no, there is no fishing trip here) and Anna Chancellor (Tipping the Velvet lesbians… please watch this). Essentially, they’re our villains in My Lady Jane, though there aren’t exactly any clean hands in the cast.

“I think you’ve got to be a natural bitch. It’s got to come to you at some level.” Anna Chancellor says of her turn as Jane’s abhorrent mother, Lady Frances.

For Brydon, it’s something different. “It was great fun to play someone bad. I don’t get to play that very much. It’s all there on the page and you just relish in the playing of it. I try to make my chap a little charming as well. Sort of camp, but also sinister at times.”

At its core, My Lady Jane is a period piece, but it’s also been dubbed a “romantasy.” Mashing together genres to bring something completely unique to the table, you might be surprised to find your favourite characters suddenly morphing into animals.

“So they tried not to use CGI as much as possible,” Tyers said of filming these scenes. “They wanted it to be a seamless transition from human to animal — in my case, a hawk. It meant a lot of running into the distance and putting my arms out in the shape of a bird. Then they would call the scene and bring in the actual animals. Not with the bear! But some of the others. The Hawk was remarkably well-trained and probably was quicker to shoot.”

Viewers are thrown into both a new viewing experience and a new take on history. But why do we love period dramas so much?

“I think that the chivalry and all that sort of thing is also very enticing,” Burgess explains. “It’s always fun to revisit the past but, there’s a new lens through which to look at modern storytelling.

“We didn’t think there was competition works at a massive fan small period dramas and we felt like they’re doing their thing perfectly. We can just be in our own lane.”

“I think it’s the escapist element of it because it’s just far enough away time that we don’t quite recognise,” O’Flynn adds. “And it’s all the amazing locations we have in the UK. I mean, we were filming at Hampton Court and all these amazing grounds. I love the costumes in this, particularly really opulent and beautiful. And a lot happened back in Tudor times. It’s very dramatic. It’s rich pickings for a series.”

Intrigued? My Lady Jane is on Prime Video now for your viewing pleasure. But what other historical stories would the team like to see reimagined? 

“Jane’s sister Katherine.” Glynn goes for. “There are so many women with tragic stories. We always think about Monica Lewinsky, she was treated so badly. Or Britney Spears.”

“I’m giving a generalised answer, but any sad endings for women,” O’Flynn agrees. “All the wives of Henry the Eight. They got a rotten deal. Switch it up. Maybe Henry the Eighth gets his comeuppance.” 

 

My Lady Jane is available on Prime Video now.