Posts Tagged ‘Media’


No, not a hunchback!

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

It’s good to see that the news about the discovery in Leicester of a skeleton which might indeed be the remains of Richard III (subject to DNA testing) are getting quite a bit of exposure in the Australian media.  Our branch received a few requests for radio interviews and so far we found the interviewers interested in hearing our side of the story.

However, readers who live in the Sydney area, might have seen yesterday’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald with the headline ”Hunchback skeleton may be good fit for a king”.  A friend phoned me to talk to me about a similar article in the Australian (which I don’t read), so the story about the ”hunchback king” seems to have done the rounds.

Wednesday’s press release from the University of Leicester explicitly stated that the man, whose remains they had found, was not a hunchback.  He suffered from scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, which would be hardly noticeable on a clothed person.  Above all it is very well possible for someone with scoliosis to be athletic, which a medieval soldier definitely had be, and Richard was an acknowledged good soldier.  I read that Usain Bolt has scoliosis – hardly the misshapen cripple of Shakespeare’s play.

Well, to cut a long story short, I was pretty annoyed with the story in the SMH.  Sufficiently annoyed to write a letter to set the record straight.  And I am glad that my letter was accepted for publication.  You can read it on the letters’ page of today’s paper or on the digital version here (you have to scroll down a bit).

No, I never thought Richard was a hunchback and if this skeleton is indeed his (and I think that there is a very good chance that it is), then it proves that he was not a hunchback.

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Intelligence Quotient

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in News, Richard III in the Media

Staying in the Upper Hunter Valley to dog and cat sit, while my daughter and her family went skiing, I had of course remembered Richard all day on Wednesday, August 22.  That evening I turned on the television for the Gruen Planet programme, and enjoyed half an hour of Stephen Fry and QI beforehand.

Imagine my joy when it turned out to be all about Shakespeare (and most Ricardians of my acquaintance know my love of the Bard and his work, if not his interpretation of English history). Then came the question:  “How would you describe Richard III?”  Long pause until someone ventured “Hunchback”.  My hackles rose, as did those of the dogs who happily never before seen me glowering.

However, all was well.  Stephen Fry – bless him – said that was how Shakespeare described him, because he was a villain in the play, but there was no proof he was deformed and in fact was actually a very different person, a good king, law-maker etc.

Cue for me to stand and cheer to major consternation on the part of Gus and Jack who soon realised it was a case of ‘mad grandmother disease’.

I suspect it was an ages old repeat, but with speed and minuscule type size of the credits at the end of the programme, I couldn’t check when the programme was made. But how wonderful to have good things said about King Richard on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth.

Loyaulte me lie

Photograph of Stephen Fry obtained through Wikimedia Commons (

P.S.  Stephen Fry’s knowledge about Richard III is small surprise:  His alma mater is Queens’ College, Cambridge, of which Richard was a major benefactor.  The college honours his memory and the college gift shop sells bags with his boar emblem.

Queens’ College shopping bag (© Dorothea Preis)

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Richard III Today: 29 March 2012

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Richard III in the Media

It is good to see that our cause is getting out there.  Yesterday Lyn Gardner reviewed for the Guardian a new play, Iceberg Right Ahead!, written to coincide with 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.  While the reviewer’s view of the play itself is not very positive, her comparison to Richard III is spot on:

Sticking to the known facts isn’t always the route to entertaining theatre – Richard III would probably have had much to say about Shakespeare’s doubtful portrayal of him…

Of course, a fair amount of studies have been published, which attempt to show a more balanced view of the last Plantagenet king, but their impact is mostly limited to those interested in the period.  However, finding little unconnected remarks that go against the stereotype is extremely hopeful.  They reach a far wider audience and their impact cannot be underestimated.  There just might be someone reading this review, who had never thought twice about Richard III, whose interest is piqued to find out more about the historical Richard.

Thank you, Lyn Gardner!

Lyn Gardner, ‘Iceberg Right Ahead! – review’, (28 March 2012).  URL: Date accessed:  29 March 2012

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Can politicians be trusted?

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Well , at least where history is concerned it seems this is not always the case.

This is the latest example:  Last night – after returning from a long weekend in the nation’s capital – I watched  the ABC News.  There Christopher Pyne (for our readers in other parts of the globe:  an Australian opposition MP) declared that the Prime Minister’s stance on the gambling reform was “the most ruthless political act since Richard III disposed of his nephews in the Tower of London” (for a clip click here).

It is understandable that Richard III should come to Mr Pyne’s mind after the successful tour of the production of Shakespeare’s play with Kevin Spacey in Sydney last month, which got a lot of attention in the media.

However, given that Richard III was killed in 1485, it is most unlikely that the gambling reform (or lack thereof) is “the most ruthless political act’ in the last 500 odd years – I am sure most of us can think of much more serious instances.  In that respect Mr Pyne’s remark certainly is an “absurd example of hyperbole”.

However, much more seriously, it is also an instance of playing fast and furious with historical facts.  The fact is that we do not know happened to the sons of Edward IV.  Everything else is conjecture.

At least we have to assume that Mr Pyne refers to the sons of Edward IV, when he talks of Richard III’s nephews.  In fact Richard had  various other nephews, who are all accounted for and only met their end in Tudor times – with Edward, earl of Warwick (son of Richard III’s elder brother George, duke of Clarence), actually being executed in the Tower of London – in 1499, on the orders of Henry VII.

The sons of Edward IV were declared illegitimate by an act of Parliament, because of questions about the legality of their parents’ marriage.  This allowed Richard, duke of Gloucester, to become king as Richard III.  The boys were last seen playing in the royal residence of the Tower in the late summer of 1483, but nobody knows for sure what happened then.  We can’t say for sure that they were killed and – if they were – when or even less by whom, and they might just as well have outlived Richard III.  It is worth noting that two posthumous trials acquitted Richard of this crime.

Rather than blaming Richard for the demise of these nephews, he might very well have been instrumental in protecting their lives, as the appearance of the later pretenders shows.

It would be desirable if politicians of whichever hue were to ascertain their facts, before comparing their opponents with historical persons.  More often than not, these comparisons do not achieve the anticipated outcome, but rather backfire.

More info on the trials: – click on “Channel 4: The Trial of Richard III (1984)”
The Channel 4 programme can be viewed in a number of parts on YouTube

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Richard and the Spooks

   Posted by: Lynne Foley    in News

Fans of the TV series Spooks may not know of a Ricardian connection between King Richard and the actor Richard Armitage, who played the role of Lucas North.

He was interviewed by Vulpes Libris (a collective of bibliophiles writing about books) in 2009, and revealed that he was named Richard because he was born in Leicester on 22nd, and further, that one of his father’s favourite books was The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman.  Quoting Richard Armitage:

I read this many years ago.  In recent years it has lead to a tentative interest and line of research into the rehabilitation of this story.  As an actor, it’s a project I would love to achieve.  I believe it is a great story, a socio-political thriller, a love story and a dynastic tragedy.  My challenge is to convince commercial producers to see beyond ‘history lesson’, but I strongly suspect that this will be a long way off…, I may even be producing by the time someone … realizes the potential for this project.

The full interview can be located here (



A warm welcome to Column 8 readers

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

If you found us after reading the paper this morning we would like to welcome you to our site.  We hope you find lots of interesting articles and would be happy to welcome you soon again.

A note of explanation to our regular readers.  We reported on Tuesday, 6 July, that Richard III’s coronation was mentioned in Column 8, a regular feature of the Sydney Morning Herald.  We were wondering whether our secretary Julia had anything to do with it, but it turns out that any prompting from her side had not been necessary.  However, efficient as ever she immediately sent an email to Column 8 thanking them for the mention of ‘our Man’ and this appears in full in today’s paper (have a look here).  Thank you very much to Column 8 and Julia as well.

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Richard III in the Sydney Morning Herald

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

The anniversary of Richard and Anne’s coronation in 1483 made it into today’s Sydney Morning Herald (could Julia, our excellent secretary, have anything to do with this?).  Column 8 lists several events connected with 6 July.  In case you are wondering about “St Sexburga’s Day” (and did not read Column 8 yesterday), St Sexburga was an Abbess of Ely in the seventh century.

Read today’s Column 8 here (the first entry) and yesterday’s here (the last entry).

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The Battle of Towton on BBC

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Helen Cox, the author of the forthcoming new evaluation of the Battle of Wakefield (see here), let us know that a half-hour programme on the Battle of Towton has just been broadcast on BBC 1, as part of a series called ‘A History of the World’.  Helen and a number of other Towton Battlefield Society/Frei Compagnie re-enactors feature in this programme.

She also informed us that the programme would be available on the BBC iPlayer (here).  We were so thrilled to think that now we would also be able to watch programmes like this, but alas the BBC iPlayer for TV is available to the UK only.  Why this discrimination?

Tomorrow, 20 May, BBC2 will broadcast in its ‘History Cold Case’ series a programme on the skeleton of a man found at Stirling Castle who died after a jolly joust.  That would also be interesting, if only we could watch it!

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The Princes in the Tower

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Recently the National Geographic Channel commissioned a series called The Mystery Files, which is also showing on this channel here in Australia.  The objective of the series is to re-examine the legends surrounding a number of famous and infamous figures from history.

One episode, entitled Royal Murder, is of particular interest to Ricardians as it deals with the Princes in the Tower.  As the Chairman of the Richard III Society, Dr Phil Stone, informed us the Society assisted with background information as well as suggesting a number of academic contacts who could be interviewed.  One of those chosen to take part was Lynda Pidgeon, whom we all know as the research officer of the Society.

Phil emphasised what a refreshing change it was to come across a popular programme maker prepared to examine historical events with an open mind rather than accepting the usual premise and twisting the facts to fit.

The programme has been screening on the National Geographic Channel in Australia for a while, the next showing is due on Monday 24 May 2010 at 14h30.  If you do not have access to Pay TV, don’t despair.  Phil has kindly send a copy of the DVD of the episode to our branch and members (of the NSW and QLD branches) are welcome to borrow it from Julia.

You can find out more on the Mystery Files website or check the time of the next showing on the Australian National Geographic Channel website.

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