Author Philippa Gregory has built a career telling stories about English royalty, in novels like “The Other Boleyn Girl” and the so-called Cousins’ War trilogy, now adapted into a series, “The White Queen,” for Starz.
But that doesn’t mean she gives a fig about Prince George Alexander Louis, the newborn who now sits third in line to the British throne.
Gregory, an unabashed feminist whose novels tend to be told from a female perspective, was asked by a reporter Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour whether she hoped the royal baby would be a girl.
“I’m utterly indifferent about Kate Middleton’s baby,” she replied bluntly.
That turned out to be not be entirely true, however, as Gregory went on to say she was relieved the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge turned out to be a boy. “It's going to have a terrible life, but if it was a girl, it would be a nightmare.”
The bodice-ripping “The White Queen” is set during the War of the Roses and tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner who went on to marry King Edward IV. It stars Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson as the royal couple, who are as hot for each other as they are for power.
Though the series, a British-American co-production with the BBC, fits with the network’s established brand as a destination for period epics, its focus on women’s stories makes it more unusual -- not just at Starz, but in the cable-TV landscape more broadly.
As Starz CEO Chris Albrecht put it, “Women are underserved in the premium space.”
Despite obvious similarities to “Game of Thrones” -- which was itself inspired by the War of the Roses -- “The White Queen” differs in its focus on female characters rather than bloody battle sequences.
Once Elizabeth ascends to power, she becomes locked in a three-way struggle with two other women, Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) and Anne Neville (Faye Marsay), vying for the throne.
“One of the reasons I’m so proud about this series is we’re telling women’s stories,” Gregory said.
Also unlike "Game of Thrones," the nudity in "The White Queen" tends to be evenly divided between the genders -- a subject that was addressed during Friday's panel.
Asked whether his famous father, Jeremy, objected to his bottom-baring scenes, Max Irons displayed some of that trademark British wit: "If he did have a problem with it, I would just refer him to his back catalog."