My Lady Jane on Prime Video review: move aside Bridgerton, this rampantly horny show is a winner

 (Jonathan Prime/Prime Video)
(Jonathan Prime/Prime Video)

In a year where Bridgerton seems to be losing its fizz, how lucky that we’ve been graced with a suitable replacement in the form of My Lady Jane, which is rampantly horny enough to come with its own warning sticker.

It also comes with a premise so bonkers that it may require reading through twice. My Lady Jane (which is itself based on a beloved YA novel) is a very, very loose retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey, the unlucky Tudor queen who reigned for nine days before being deposed and executed by Queen Mary I.

However, history – as the show tells us – is boring. “F**k that!” the narrator exclaims at the start of the series, and we duly careen sideways into a revisionist version of the story in which Jane speaks like she’s come straight out of a Nineties sitcom, King Edward is probably gay, and magic is real. Oh, and the Catholic-Protestant rivalry has been replaced by a fictional clash between Verities and Ethians – ie. people who can change into animals at will and those that, er, can’t. Look, it’s best not to overthink it too much.

Fortunately, the show is actually a bit of a royal romp. Jane herself (newcomer Emily Bader) is very much a modern historical women – bolshy, outspoken and unwilling to sacrifice her freedom for A Man – so imagine her horror when she’s faced with the prospect of being forcibly married off to Guildford Dudley (Edward Bluemel).

He’s a seemingly arrogant nobleman who’s hiding a secret of his own, and while Jane attempts to puzzle that out, there’s also a royal plot to contend with concerning a sickly King Edward (Jordan Peters), and an Ethian uprising led by the Robin Hood-esque Archer. Phew!

Jordan Peters as King Edward (Jonathan Prime/Prime Video)
Jordan Peters as King Edward (Jonathan Prime/Prime Video)

As might be expected, the plot speeds along, but things are kept more or less on track by sheer enthusiasm if nothing else. It also helps that the performances are so good – and the cast is stacked, with everybody from Jim Broadbent to Máiréad Tyers (of Disney+ show Extraordinary) making an appearance.

Rob Brydon in particular wears the smirk of a pantomime baddie the entire way through; for that matter, so does Kate O’Flynn, who plays a magnificently deranged Mary.

And did I mention the sex? Everybody’s at it, except two main characters; every other shot seems to be of some bare backside or other. This is clearly where all the steaminess has been hiding, and the camera lingers on every bit of exposed flesh it encounters with a slightly alarming dedication.

But if the plot proves a little bit too complex, there’s always the narrator (Oliver Chris), who drops in frequently to fill us in on what’s happening, or provide unnecessary insights into the characters’ internal lives. Yes, this is the kind of show that has narration, and though it aims for lofty and knowing – a bitchy best friend whispering into your ear – it quickly gets a little bit tiresome.

"Jane has the raging horn for Guildford,” they say snidely at one point. “Even though she knows he is utterly incorrigible and that their first time, the bedding ceremony, will be in front of everybody in this room.” Look, they’re being edgy and delivering exposition at the same time! What do you mean, you don’t know what a ‘raging horn’ is? Or a bedding ceremony, for that matter?

But that’s missing the point of the show, which is just to sit back and enjoy. If sarcasm and revisionist history isn’t your thing, then My Lady Jane might be best avoided. For everybody else, strap in: it’s worth the ride.

My Lady Jane is streaming on Prime Video from June 27