If there’s a takeaway from the TCA press tour session for The CW’s “Reign,” it’s that while you may enjoy the show, you probably shouldn’t use it as source material for a history report on Mary, Queen of Scots.
The show is set in the 16th century and traces the broad outlines of Mary’s (Adelaide Kane) life, picking up when she arrives at the French court as a teenager as the intended bride of Prince Francis (Toby Regbo). But as executive producer Laurie McCarthy puts it, “We’re not telling a historical drama. We’re telling a fictionalized account of Mary’s life.”
“I think there is a certain amount of latitude in terms of dramatizing events,” McCarthy (“Ghost Whisperer”) says. “You see portraiture of the time, and you read books … and there are many things that happened that never made it onto the pages of history. I also wondered, what was the castle like on a Tuesday at 11 o’clock in the morning? What did they really wear when they weren’t getting their pictures [painted]?”
Torrance Coombs, who plays Francis’ (fictional) half-brother, jokes that “I for one am thankful for a certain amount of creative license, because historically I don’t exist.”
McCarthy says “Reign” is at its core a love story about Mary and Francis, and that is more or less true to the historical record: “They do wed, they did love each other. From all accounts they were very close. It was not a long marriage, I’m sorry to say.”
Francis died about 2 1/2 into his marriage to Mary, but McCarthy says starting the story where “Reign” does, as they’re becoming acquainted again, gives the show plenty of time to deal with that fact.
“Eventually what we learn is [there is] a prophecy of young Francis’ death,” McCarthy says. “We won’t shy away from that. We’ll actually embrace it at a certain point in the series.”
“Reign” is scheduled to premiere Thursday, Oct. 17 on The CW.