While trawling the local charity shops for bargains, my eye fell on the CD/DVD combo pictured to the left. At first glance, it appears to be a compilation of mainstream pop music, aimed at undiscriminating mothers… but on closer inspection, you’ll note the postage-stamp-sized picture of Anne-Marie Duff dressed as Queen Elizabeth I in the bottom left-hand corner, and the text explaining that this CD also comes with a “Bonus DVD” of the BBC’s period drama The Virgin Queen (2005). As luck would have it, that miniseries happened to be on my “to watch list”, so I was only too happy to snap it up for the insanely cheap price of £1-50… but my purchase was also motivated by the sheer incredulity that the enigmatic package inspired!
There are three discs in the folding case… one is a CD, and the other two are DVDs (two hour-long episodes on each), so why is this “film” pitched as an additional extra, rather than the main attraction? And why was it paired with an incongruous selection of modern pop songs (Simply Red! Banarama! Otis Reading!), rather than old-timey classical music? And if the songs really were the big selling point, then why pair such inoffensive pap with a 12-rated series, containing “moderate violence and nudity”, which would clearly restrict its market? And if this misbegotten melange was marketed as a Mother’s Day gift (as I suspect), then why choose the story of a woman who explicitly chose her career over marrying and breeding, and whose own mother (Anne Boleyn) was executed when the girl was barely three years old? The package was still tightly shrink-wrapped, but the copyright suggests it was released in 2009… so where had it been sitting for the last five years, unopened and forgotten, gathering dust? And why did its owner wait until now to clear it out?