To my delight, I have just found out that Sky Arts is broadcasting Isabel, an awarded Spanish show that is currently on its second season back in my home country.Now that I am in London, I find this little things particularly touching, since they allow me to have tiny moments of homesickness. Maybe because in Spain I watch this with my mum -whose name also happens to be Isabel.
To put you in situation, Isabel tells the story of whom were the most important monarchs in Spanish history: Fernando of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, commonly known as “Los Reyes Católicos” (The Catholic Monarchs): America was discovered during their reign, and they also reconquered the parts of Southern Spain that still belonged to the Muslims. They did many other things, of course, and everything is splendidly depicted in the show.
The first season begins with a teenager Isabel, and it shows her life from her marriage to Fernando up to her coronation as Queen of Castile. The second season is showing, so far, the Civil War against her niece Juana La Beltraneja -whom everybody knew was a bastard child- and, apparently, it’s going to cover the period that leads to the discovery of America. A third season has already been ordered.
It is worth mentioning that the settings are the actual castles that were used 500 years ago, and the stories, the characters’ appearances, the clothing and the way of speaking are completely accurate. This is not only a TV series; it is a piece of history, a high quality documentary.
And about the actors, well, they are all well known thespians of the Spanish panorama, and quite respected. But the main ones I need to talk about are Michelle Jenner and Rodolfo Sancho, who play Isabel and Fernando.
I confess myself to be a huge admirer of Jenner. She started working as a voice actress when she was a child -she was the voice of young Hermione in the first Harry Potter films- and she reached fame at the age of 19, thanks to Los Hombres de Paco, a Spanish TV show that was an absolute hit. Her performance as Isabel has earned her the praise from critics and audience, and if you see the show, you will not be surprised by this. She provides a balance between sweetness and strength to Isabel, which is exactly what the character needs.
As for Sancho, he has been a household name -and heartthrob- for 15 years, since he starred in Al Salir De Clase, a teenage soap opera that served as a platform for young actors -most of the important thirty something actors in Spain right now come from that show, and some of them can be seen on Isabel-. I find quite interesting the fact that even though Sancho is 11 years older than Jenner, their characters marry when they are both 18 and it seems completely credible.
Please, watch Isabel. It is a brilliant piece of art, and you will learn about an important part of Spain’s history that I am sure you didn’t study at school.
¡FELIZ DÍA DE LA HISPANIDAD! Only us Spaniards would make our National Day out of the anniversary of conquering some other place (You´re welcome, America).
Update: now you can read more about season 3 in my new post about Isabel.
Second update: after the final episode, I wrote my last love letter to the show, as a thank-you note for everything Isabel has meant for me.