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my lady jane


The historical saga of Lady Jane Grey is stood on its head in irreverent new comedy My Lady Jane

If truth is normally sacrosanct in period pieces depicting the most notorious figures in history, in My Lady Jane it is the sporadic accurate detail about the great niece of Henry VIII — who claimed the throne of England for nine days in 1553 before meeting a gruesome end — that serves as an Easter egg.

But between fantastical elements, contemporary (at least long past the 16th century) music and a thriving heroine whose neck does not meet the axe, showrunners Gemma Burgess and Meredith Glynn made sure that the framework of their bended historical narrative contained some solid parameters. “We are huge history enthusiasts,” says Burgess. “And we did have three history consultants who are brilliant. We would send them our scripts and they would come back and say, ‘People definitely didn’t say “As if.”’ But then they really got into it and found it extremely funny and just had fun with it. They would start pitching ideas to us, which we would put in the show.”

My Lady Jane on Prime Video. Pictured:  England’s nobility gathers for the coronation of Queen Jane.
Amazon MGM Studios

If there is legacy that truly matters to the screenwriting duo, it is that of comedic genius. “We wanted it to feel like Tudor times in the same way that The Princess Bride feels like medieval Europe,” says Burgess. Glynn adds, “but we also wanted to bring the joy of things like Blackadder and Monty Python, the things that inspired us and that we loved so much growing up. We were thinking about movies like A Knight’s Tale, the original Willow, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I think because we’re such fans of that kind of show, it all felt very achievable to us. We were like, ‘Makes sense to us.’”

My Lady Jane on Prime Video. Pictured: Lady Jane (Emily Bader) and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley (Edward Bluemel), share a moment.
Amazon MGM Studios

All this whimsy required a grounding element, which in My Lady Jane falls on the shoulders of the lead character, played by Paranormal: Next of Kin star Emily Bader. “Jane was always our North Star. Keeping her character relatable was really important to us,” says Glynn. “[Finding Bader] was a lightning strike moment, honestly. We searched far and wide for the perfect Jane. We saw lots of great people, but nobody was Jane. And then Emily just immediately had it.” Burgess vividly recalls Bader’s self-made tape. “It was extraordinary,” she says. “She was funny and excited, a little bit arrogant and so smart, quick, lovable and relatable. We fell instantly in love with her.”

My Lady Jane on Prime Video. Pictured: Much like his beloved cousin Lady Jane Grey, King Edward (Jordan Peters, L) gets a rewrite in this version of the Tudor saga, casting off his betrayers and tapping into his “inner warrior.”
Amazon MGM Studios

Our Jane may not meet her maker — and this comes as no spoiler, as the series is based on the popular YA novel series from 2016 that fancifully reimagines the life of Lady Jane Grey — but her struggles are similar to those of the real-life queen. “Our Jane, like the real Jane, was educated with Edward, her cousin, who is the king. She had a tremendous intellect and she knows it. She’s a little bit conceited, but she has the best intentions,” explains Burgess. “What she wants above all is independence and to have some power, because she has none. She’s a girl in 1553.”

When Jane becomes queen and suddenly has all the power in the world, she soon discovers it is no guarantee for happiness. “It all goes wrong pretty fast,” says Burgess. “By the end of the season, Jane is no longer sheltered. She’s incredibly experienced and she’s been pushed to the brink of giving up time and time again, and then she digs deep and finds the will to carry on. By the end of the show, she’s learned a lot about herself and a lot about the world, but she still has a lot more to learn.”

My Lady Jane on Prime Video. Pictured: King Edward’s sisters Bess (Abbie Hern) and Mary (Kate O’Flynn) watch as scheming adviser Lord Seymour (Dominic Cooper) has a word with rival schemer Lord Dudley (Rob Brydon).
Amazon MGM Studios

We also delve into the lives of those around Jane, like King Edward VI (Jordan Peters). “It’s really a journey of identity and self-discovery. Edward has always been told he’s sick while being poisoned,” says Burgess. “He’s been controlled and manipulated by counsellors and his sister. And what we find with him is that he is going to tap into his inner warrior.” The audience also gets to root for — somewhat unexpectedly — a romance between Jane’s mother Lady Frances Grey and brother-in-law Lord Stan Dudley. “Anna Chancellor and Henry Ashton met for the first time on set, doing a rehearsal with the intimacy coordinator,” recalls Burgess. “That rehearsal was two-and-a-half hours long. They just got along so well and had this chemistry and had so much fun. It was brilliant.”

This historical romp has fun with language, sex and tone. On a more serious note, the series deals with rampant sexism — but in a way that’s meant to entertain, not provoke. “I think [historical context] gives us a way to engage with it because we’re laughing at it. We’re pointing out how ridiculous these things are, but because they’re set in the past, in a world where people turn into animals, it’s not triggering,” says Burgess. “We’re not trying to stress anybody out. We want to make everybody feel good. But we also know that it’s been hard to be a young woman pretty much forever.”

My Lady Jane, streaming on Prime Video

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