Tamzin Merchant is one of those actors who pop up in a bunch of frock flicks — not necessarily “prestige” historical productions, but she’s in a lot of them. She’s a hard worker and keeps at it, which is admirable! She does bring a strong sense of the character to these roles, and it’s usually the costume and/or hair-styling that bring things down. Her roles here do show an evolution, and she’s young so hopefully she’ll continue to get more interesting parts with higher production values. After all, she shot the Game of Thrones pilot in the role of Daenerys Targaryen but she turned it down because she wasn’t into the sex scene. That takes conviction on her part! Meanwhile, she’s also directing short films that have been presented on the festival circuit, and she’s written and published a children’s book series.
Our least-favorite version of the Austen novel, but she’s fine. Except this is an inauspicious start hair-wise — she’s practically the poster child for The Great Bobby Pin Shortage.
Margot Durrell in My Family and Other Animals (2005)
A TV movie adaption of naturalist Gerald Durrell’s book about his family’s time on Corfu in the 1930s.
Probationer Eastwood in Casualty 1906 (2006)
A small role in this period hospital drama.
Part of the English family the Hawaiian princess is sent to live with, sister to Kaiulani’s fiancé. Nice 1890s costume, but no hairpins!
One y’all probably know. There’s much that’s terrible about this series, but Merchant’s youth works well for portraying Howard.
However silly the costumes, the bird motif is evocative of Catherine’s flighty naiveté & wish for freedom. Henry had no business marrying her.
Mary Rivers in Jane Eyre (2011)
OMG HER HAIR IS UP! Because this is a nicely costumed Bronte flick, & Merchant is playing one of Jane’s cousins who also works as a governess.
Rosa Bud in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)
A solid BBC adaption of Dickens’ unfinished novel. I’m sure that blue dress is recycled from another production, & alas, her hair is down again.
Molly Cooper in Murder on the Home Front (2013)
Looking sharp in this World War II period crime drama.
Anne Hale in Salem (2014-17)
This series’ writing was inconsistent & aggravating to me, & unfortunately Tamzin Merchant kind of faded behind Janet Montgomery’s scenery-chewing in the first season that I managed to watch.
But apparently her character undergoes a transformation in seasons two & three, where she becomes more powerful. And gets more interesting costumes!
Yeah, nobody put their hair up in this show supposedly set in the late 17th century, but the elaborate riffs on period costume were AM-AH-ZING.
Imogen Spurnrose in Carnival Row (2019-23)
Here too, Merchant’s character starts out slow & builds to an unexpected change as she’s an heiress in this fantasy mashup of the 1890s.
In spite of the series being populated by faeries & fauns, this world does have hairpins!
Aunt Harriet in Tom Jones (2023)
I don’t know if this is Tamzin Merchant, but it’s all I could find from the trailer for this upcoming series.
What’s your favorite of Tamzin Merchant’s frock flick roles?
I haven’t seen her in anything other than The Tudors, alas, but she was excellent as Katheryn Howard*. She definitely nailed the whole “way too young and flighty but basically kind” character, although I seriously doubt there was any nude swinging around Hampton Court (oh, Showtime, how you love to anachronistically sex things up…). I’ve always felt sorry for the historical personage, as she was clearly too young and immature to take on a Queen’s role; she might have managed married to a lesser noble in the country, but being in the vipers’ den that was the Henrician court, she never had a chance. “Nothing personal, just business…”
*Has it ever been determined definitively how she (or any of the other wives, really) actually spelled her own name? The one I used is the one I’ve seen most recently, and looks about right, but who knows? If they can’t manage to settle on when she was actually born (1524 seems popular, which would have made her 15-16 when she married Henry, and probably only 17 when she died), I imagine they find dealing w/Tudor-era spelling too much to deal with.
Spelling wasn’t really solid in the 16th-c. even for names. A lot of places (like the Historic Royal Palaces) use “Catherine Howard” & “Katherine Parr” just to have a distinction between the two wives but that’s arbitrary!
I believe Katherine Parr signed herself ‘Kateryn the Queene KP’ I believe the initials were to differentiate her from her predecessors Catherine Howard and Catherine of Aragon.
She had really nice dresses (and hats) in Carnival Row.
I thought she was very good in season 1 of Carnival Row, the only season I’ve seen so far. I barely remember her character in Jane Eyre. Overall, I absolutely LOVED that version of the book.
Personally I thought Tamzin’s Catherine Howard was a little too Valley Girl, but no doubt that was the director’s fault.