John Derbyshire On Jodie Turner-Smith As Anne Boleyn—Worst Casting Decision Of 2020?
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[Excerpted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively through]

See, earlier: NO, William The Conqueror Did NOT Have A Black Advisor. SJWs Are Just Rewriting English History (Sound Familiar?)

A British TV channel is producing a costume drama about Anne Boleyn, who was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England back in the 16th century. Henry's first wife, Catherine, had not been able to give him a male heir, so he had his marriage to her annulled in 1533 and married Anne. The issue of the annulment was what drove Henry to break with the Pope.

When Anne likewise failed to produce a male heir after three years of marriage, Henry had her charged with adultery and executed. The charges were most likely bogus, but that was the end of Anne; although, in a nice instance of generational revenge, her daughter later became Queen Elizabeth the First, a much better monarch than Henry.

Well, this TV channel is producing a drama about Anne, to be aired at some future date not specified. The actress playing Anne will be Jodie Turner-Smith, a full-blood negress [Jodie Turner-Smith plays Anne Boleyn in new Channel 5 drama that seeks to 'challenge conventions' by casting black actress as Henry VIII's executed wife and 'shine a feminist light' on her story Daily Mail, December 18, 2020]. And no, they're not making her put on white-face makeup.

This is of course historically preposterous. Anne Boleyn was a white English lady—we have contemporary portraits of her.

The producers of historical dramas—including this one, I'm guessing—go to great pains and expense to make everything look authentic: costumes, furnishings, weapons, transportation….We want the illusion of reality. No producer would have the Duke of Norfolk drive up to Henry VIII's hunting lodge in a Lamborghini and carrying an AR-15.

The classic Henry VIII TV biopic was an earlier British production: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, aired in 1971. Keith Mitchell played the part of Henry, and he played him with red hair. Why? Because Henry VIII had red hair, duh. That was fifty years ago, though, when we still had some common sense.

So what's the point of this gross, glaring anachronism—a negress playing Anne Boleyn? Let the producers tell us, quote from the news story:

"Producers Fable Pictures say the drama challenges all the conventions of who we think Anne Boleyn was and shines a feminist light on her story."

They're challenging conventions, see? Down with conventions!

What they are actually challenging, of course, is historical truth.

So: Down with historical truth!

"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." If you're in any doubt about who controls the present, try starting an online protest movement against this casting decision. Then watch your PayPal account close down, and your Twitter account, your Facebook account, your bank account, your credit-card accounts, …

"Hold on there, Derb," I hear you cry. "Didn't you cover a similar story back in November, about a black actress playing Agent 007 in the new James Bond movie? And didn't you say you were fine with it?"

Yes and yes. However,

  • that's fiction, where you can make stuff up. In historical dramas you should cleave to the historical truth as closely as you can.
  • there is nothing implausible about a present-day intelligence agency having a black female operative; and if, as seems to be the case, James Bond is retired in this movie, or dead, or otherwise indisposed, there's nothing implausible about giving the lady his agent number. So yes, I'm fine with it.

What I am not fine with is halfwit producers committing gross historical falsehoods in order to signal that they are faithful congregants of the Most Holy and Blessed Church of Negritude.

I am not fine with lies and hypocrisy.

Of course, the charge of hypocrisy there is presumptive. I'm presuming that these producers, in their private lives—in their residential and educational decisions—stay as far away from big concentrations of black people as everyone else does that can afford to.

If it can be proven to me that this is not the case, I shall make a modest donation to The United Negro College Fund.)

Previously on on blackwashing white characters, and other casting atrocities:

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire's writings at can do so here.

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