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'The Search for Richard III' by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

This is a true gem for anyone interested in the 'King in the Car Park', as he's affectionately known, or 'The one who put the KING in parKING'. Of course, it's Richard III aka Richard, Duke of Gloucester, sometimes known as the real-life King in the North.

The narrative device of this book - the shipwreck/the Young Rose (borrowing the flashback terminology from 1997 'Titanic') sets it apart from other Richard's biographies. The 'shipwreck' side of the story is lovingly told by Philippa Langley, the woman behind the dig. Her aspirations, her motivation and above all, her determination to find not just the remains, but the real Richard the Man is at the heart of her story.

Digging up a king of England and reinterring him with dignity is not an simple objective to fulfil, and that's exactly what this remarkable woman set out to do and that is what she did. This account goes hand in hand with the tie-in documentary. The links to her 'Looking for Richard' website page and her next project - 'The Missing Princes' are here. No less equally exciting is Michael Jones's 'Young Rose' part of the narrative. We find out how Richard grew up, what friends he had, how the death of his father affected him, etc. Richard the Adult also makes for a fascinating character: we find out more about his responsibilities, his first battle, his marriage with Anne Neville, their life in Yorkshire, the birth of his son, the re-burial of his father (like father, like son, I guess), Richard dispensing justice... All of this paints a much better picture of him. We follow him Bosworth. For once, Richard's undignified death is presented as a tragedy, not as a preface of Tudor rule. Of course, 'The Princes in the Tower' chapter of his life cannot be forgotten, but neither can it be the only one.

Statue to Richard opposite the Visitors Centre

Here comes the rant..

.. As Philippa said in the beginning of her account of the search - there has never been a film or a TV series about Richard, the real Richard. (Also see it here). As we know, Shakespeare adaptations and derivations don't count, as he took historical fiction way too far, and the screen representations of the Wars of the Roses are sidelining Richard. So far, 'The White Queen' (2013) has come the closest to the real man, in my humble opinion. But there's yet to be a film or a show dedicated to him entirely. Furthermore, most screen stories about Richard focus on his life after the death of Edward IV, but that is only the third act of his life: the climax and the wrap-up. (Frankly, it's not dissimilar to most Mary Queen of Scots and Henry VIII's screen representations - 'He was getting tired of his first wife... And what was he doing for 40 years before that, pray tell?)...I digress..

So, the world needs a film or a TV series that would communicate Richard's beliefs and track his life from the beginning, making him the principal character. Limited series would probably be best, as we've all seen that a film may not be long enough to tell a complicated story properly - yes, I'm looking at you, 'Outlaw King'. Asking too much?

Entrance at the Richard III Visitors Centre in Leicester

Here are three more documentaries on the discovery of Richard III:

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