BBC brings the axe down on The White Queen after just one series

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It cost £25 million, was a big international co-production with America and Belgium and received a prominent promotional campaign by the BBC. However, The White Queen, BBC One’s historical romp from the makers of Skins, has been put out of its misery. The BBC has announced in a statement to the website Broadcast that The White Queen has been officially cancelled and will not return for a second run.

The series, based on novels by Philippa Gregory, debuted on BBC One in June with a healthy viewership of around 5.3 million. However, viewers declined to an embarrassing 3.6 million. As the series ran on into August, initial fans seemed to switch off or turn their attentions to competing material, such as ITV’s Law & Order: UK.

The White Queen was part of a major co-production with America’s premium cable channel Starz. In recent years, there have been a collection of notable collaborations between the BBC and the Starz network including the fourth series of Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood (currently on indefinite hiatus) and historical drama Da Vinci’s Demons (which will be returning next yet on FOX UK). The series started airing on Starz earlier this month in a longer cut featuring extended and far more explicit sex scenes.

British and American co-productions have become a regular feature of the primetime schedules. Downton Abbey, Strike Back, Sherlock, Ripper Street and Call the Midwife have all been made as collaborations with US broadcasters.

white_queenIt is possible that The White Queen may be picked up for a second series by Starz (whose promotional poster is pictured left) as a solo project without the BBC, even though the British broadcaster had a large amount of control of the series. If this did happen, it would echo the decision recently made by HBO’s sister channel Cinemax to press on with a new series of Mellissa George-starring action drama Hunted (now under the name Sam Hunter) when the BBC announced plans to cancel the drama. Cinemax, which airs a varied amount of content, from blockbuster films to softcore pornography, has taken complete control of Hunted. It remains to be seen whether Starz will do the same with The White Queen.

The BBC has urged press to remember that the show ‘was never actually conceived as a returning series’. However, many have already speculated that the outcome would have been very different if the drama had pulled in higher ratings. Earlier this year, ITV recommissioned a second series of ratings-hit Broadchurch due to the audience response to the show, even though it was initially planned as a one-off mini-series. The White Queen, which has been largely criticised by the press and failed to capture the hearts of the viewers, seems destined to remain one of those shows that could have had a life beyond its one-series run but failed to make enough of an impact on this all-important first outing.

The White Queen is available to view on BBC iPlayer in the UK for a limited time. The Blu-ray disc and DVD boxset, released by Anchor Bay, is available now.  

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

19 Comments

  1. avatar
    Billy and Bolly on

    We really liked The White Queen. It was well written and well acted. However, we started watching it towards the end and went back to watch the earlier episodes on iPlayer (which are now no longer available). What a shame that it has been apparently so heavily criticised.

  2. avatar
    Tommy n Angela on

    This is a terrible shame! It was very well written and had the potential for a great series! Very disappointed!!!

  3. avatar

    This is a HORRIBLY directed TV series.

    Remember in episode 1 or 2 when Lady Margaret Beaufort goes to visit her son Henry, the future King Henry VII? He was around 5 or 6 years old at the time of that visit.

    When they did a forward in the story line an episode later, a message on the screen said 3 YEARS LATER. Well Lady Margaret Beaufort visits her son again Henry and he hadn’t aged a day even though it was suppose to be 3 YEARS LATER!!

    Not sure about you all but a 5-6 year old looks allot older than a 9-10 year old, which should have been his age when they forwarded the story 3 years and Lady Margaret Beaufort went to visit him again.

    HORRIBLE DIRECTING. The director should be fired and never direct again over something like this.

  4. avatar

    I really hope Stars does a second season and progresses with the story. It is my favorite show that gives me an hour to escaped to historical fiction and enjoy the story.

    • avatar

      I totally agree! I love that show, as I’m fascinated with that time period & all things royal! In fact, I’m a bit of an amateur historian of the Wars of the Roses & the Tudor Dynasty! I’m so bummed it’s been cancelled & I too am hoping Starz is able to pick it up for us in the U.S. I loved Showtime’s The Tudors & wish they would’ve followed up with more seasons.

  5. avatar

    I would love to watch a follow up ie the white princess as I really enjoyed the white queen. I’m reading the white princess by phillipa Gregory at the moment

    • avatar

      Love the White Queen and don’t want it to end! I am reading the White Princess and know there is still plenty of material to work with! Please Starz pick these series up!

  6. avatar

    I Fell Madly In Love With “The White Queen” Mini-Series!!! It’s Rather Disappointing That There Will Not Be A Second Season! Everyone I Know (Here In The US LOVED The Show!) The Books Are Phenomenal & The Show Brought Life 2 The History & The Charachters! I Rather Think Its Foolish Of Starz If They Don’t Pick Up A Second Season! (But Starz Has Disappointed Me Before! Camelot! I Loved Camelot! It Was A FABULOUS Show! & They Like ALWAYS W/All Amazing Shows… They Cancelled It Just After 1 Season & COMPLETELY Left The Audience & The Story Just Hanging In The Balance!) So… Even If “The White Queen Wasn’t Intended For A Second Season… It Will Not Surprise Me If There Is No Second Season! The Story Feels UN-Finished… Because IT IS! Historically So Much More Happens! It’s Sad That They Are Going To Leave The Story (TV Series Wise) Hanging Like That & The Audience Who LOVED IT Hanging As Well!!! Reality TV… Unfortunately Has Taken Over! & Magical Shows Like Camelot & The White Queen Are Left On The Back-Burner To Shows That REALLY Have No Meaning Or History!!! People Would Rather Watch Celebrities Fighting, Trashy Drama, & Shows About Swamp People, Bad Tattoos, Home Make Overs, Alligator Hunting, Pig Hunting, Honey Boo Boo, & Children In Beauty Pageants Than BEAUTIFUL Stories About A Time That Once Was!!! I Really Do Hope That They Wise Up & Bring The White Queen Back For A 2’nd Season!!! The Tudors Was ANOTHER Amazing Show! It Was Phenomenal As Well!!! Please BRING BACK The White Queen!!! 🙂

  7. avatar

    It is disappointing that “The White Queen” was cancelled. I enjoyed every minute of watching it. The drama kept me wanting more and more. So sad. The acting is the best. BBC’s loss. Perhaps they were afraid to see the truth of the Royal family’s history truly revealed.

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