Thank you to Joan Saxton for this excellent question.
"I am looking for documentaries or movies of the Tudor Period that authentically depict those times -- real people doing real things, smells, all the nitty-gritty.
Any ideas? How about BBC "In the Shadow of the Tower"?"
Personally, my top two recommendations for documentary series are:
- Tudor Monastery Farm - some of the episodes are on YouTube, see https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tudor+monastery+farm
- Tales from the Green Valley - see https://www.tudorsociety.com/tales-green-valley-documentary/. It's set a bit later, in the early Stuart period, but would be how Tudor farmers and their families and workers lived.
Helen Castor's Medieval Lives is also wonderful and you may be able to see episodes on YouTube, and Secrets of the Castle, about building a medieval castle is very good - see https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL72jhKwankOiwI5zt6lC3eQtsQDxOaN_g
Those are my favourites for showing how people lived at the time, and I'm sure Tudor Society members will share their recommendations in the comments. Also see my list at https://www.tudorsociety.com/tudor-series-and-documentaries/
The Shadow of the Tower is good, although I haven't watched it for ages, but isn't really about how "real" people lived.
I really liked the latest documentary about the Boleyns wit Gareth Russell, Lauren MacKay, and others that used actors depicting members of the family, but it wasn’t regular people. If you’re interested in the court, both David Starkey and Lucy Worsley have excellent series about Henry VIII wives, using actors showing scenes. Keith Michell starred as Henry VIII in a series that sort of comes off as a docu-drama (maybe) called The Six Wives of Henry VIII. There’s another one he did a year or two later where he’s dying and looking back, with a slight variation on the title but I can’t remember it. Again, these are depicting court life. Oh, and both Starkey and Worsley series are titled The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Great question. Michelle t