such radical casting deserved more than this lumpen and leaden bore

Anne Boleyn was not black. In Anne Boleyn (Channel 5), she is played by the black actress Jodie Turner-Smith, a casting decision that has caused controversy. There are various ways of looking at this.

One is that casting can be colour-blind, and what’s the big deal? As audiences we should be looking for the humanity in a character, not their physical resemblance to the real thing. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers played Henry VIII in The Tudors despite resembling the skinniest member of an ageing boyband.

Alternatively, casting a black actress could be a clever way of illustrating Anne’s outsider status at court in the final months of her life. Whatever the thinking behind the decision, there is no doubt that it has given maximum publicity to Channel 5.

After all that, though, it turns out that the casting isn’t the notable thing about Anne Boleyn. What jumps out at you is that the whole production is really quite bad.

Turner-Smith looks suitably regal but gives a performance of little depth in this opening episode (in episode two things do improve). What are Anne’s motivations, or her true feelings for Henry? You won’t find out from watching this. All we get are Anne’s fear and paranoia as she sees her husband lining up a replacement wife.