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Is Aberdeen writer Rona Munro’s James IV play the Scottish answer to Netflix’s Bridgerton?

aberden danielle jam james iv

Aberdeen playwright Rona Munro’s new work James IV is set in a world where “words of love are not what they seem and where writers might turn out to be more dangerous than any assassin”… which will sound all too familiar to Bridgerton fans.

The Netflix megahit follows siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family as they attempt to find love in Regency-era London where mysterious writer Lady Whistledow publishes a gossip sheet that causes many scandals.

But is Rona’s new play James IV – Queen Of The Fight anything like the popular TV series megahit? Possibly, said Aberdeen actor Danielle Jam who will play one of the lead roles in the theatre production.

“I love Bridgerton… this is a Scottish version of it further back in time,” she said, laughing.

“What you crave in a period drama is all there – the theatricality and the drama.”

Rona’s vividly imagined trilogy – James I,II and III – has already brought to life three generations of Stewart kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th century to the acclaim of audiences who cannot get enough of the uncharted period of Scottish history.

And they aren’t alone. Ever since Downtown Abbey premiered in 2010, period dramas have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. Just last April, Bridgerton became Netflix’s most-watched English-language show of all time.

aberden danielle jam james iv
Danielle Jam will portray Ellen in James IV – Queen Of The Fight which will travel to Aberdeen and Inverness later this year.

Historically accurate theatre play

But while many fans keep pointing out inaccuracies in TV costume dramas, Rona Munro worked closely with historians to be able to tell not well-known stories while sticking to the facts.

Danielle said: “Rona Munro is amazing in telling untold stories from Scottish history. You don’t have to have seen James I, II and III – the original trilogy – to see James IV. This is a standalone wonder but it does continue the chapter in Scottish history.

“For this one specifically, Rona’s been working with a historian Dr Onyeka Nubia to develop the storyline and reveal the part of Scotland’s history which included foreigners, black people and people who history kind of rubbed out in this country and shine a light on them.”

“I’ll play Ellen – a Moorish courtier who’s arrived with her sister Anne from Spain and they’re navigating the foreign and mysterious land of Scotland in the 15th century.”

In the “James Plays” trilogy, James I was played by James McArdle, James II was brought to life by Andrew Rothney and James III was portrayed by Jamie Sives who also appeared in the Game Of Thrones.

Fascinated by untold stories from Scotland’s past

The talented north-east actor told us she was “fascinated” by history and was keen to learn more about her homeland’s past.

“Especially in this country, there’s so much we don’t get taught at school,” said Danielle.

“I have family all over the world but my roots are in Scotland and this is my number one home.

“I think I’m going to learn a lot just being in the room with Rona and Laurie Sansom (the show’s director) and all of the creative team that have come together to create this.”

Danielle is particularly looking forward to working with Rona when the cast start rehearsing in August.

She told P&J: “I used to practise speeches from Rona’s plays when I was training as a drama student so it’s really exciting to work for her and yeah, I’m a north-east quine myself!”

In addition to Danielle, the cast boasts Blythe Duff who portrayed Minerva McGonagall in the West End production of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. She will return as Dame Dounteboir, after her thrilling performances as Isabella in James I and II and Annabella in James III.

Playwright Rona Munro and director Laurie Sansom once again teamed up to deliver James IV – Queen Of The Fight.

Laura Lovemore will portray Danielle’s sister Anne and River City and Anna And The Apocalypse star Daniel Cahill will play James IV, his role in James III, creating continuity throughout the series.

Playwright Rona will also be reuinted with her long-time collaborator and director Laurie Sansom.

Don’t miss James IV – Queen Of The Fight in Aberdeen

The show is co-produced by award-winning independent company Raw Material, and Capital Theatres, Scotland’s largest theatre charity based in Edinburgh, in association with National Theatre Of Scotland.

The Scottish tour of James IV – Queen Of The Fight will kick off in Edinburgh on September 30, before travelling to Aberdeen on October 26 and Inverness on November 2.

Danielle, who captured everyone’s heart as Belle in last year’s HMT panto Beauty And The Beast, cannot wait to return to her hometown as Ellen in James IV.

“It will be so good to be back again,” said the actor.

“I love that theatre so much – it’s such a gorgeous place. I’m looking forward to bringing that one home.”

Danielle Jam as Belle in Beauty And The Beast
Talented Danielle Jam as Belle in The Beauty And The Beast at His Majesty’s Theatre in December 2021.

And HMT will once again become her home for the festive season when Danielle takes on the role of Tinker Bell in this year’s festive extravaganza – The Pantomime Adventures Of Peter Pan – which is at His Majesty’s Theatre from December 3 to January 8.

“I’ll be playing Tinker Bell and she’s even more Doric than my character Belle was last year,” said Danielle.

“Alan McHugh (HMT panto Dame and writer) described her to me as a feisty Doric fairy.

“Everyone should come along. It’s definitely going to be a high-flying adventure!”

Since Danielle also appeared in the popular mockumentary Scot Squad as PC Eleanor Hipgrove earlier this year, and starred in Molly and Mack on CBeebies, we wondered what her thoughts were on BBC becoming digital-first.

BBC director-general Tim Davie has recently revealed plans on how to “keep the BBC relevant and offer value to all audiences in an on-demand age”.

BBC Four and CBBC are set to stop being broadcast as linear channels and go online only in the next few years as part of the digital-first plans.

Aberdeen actor Danielle Jam also appeared as PC Eleanor Hipgrove in popular mockumenrary show Scot Squad.

Danielle commented: “The progress of it is really interesting. I think it’s a shame if you don’t have access to online – because not everybody does and a lot of people rely on live TV for their shows.

“When I would go to my grandma’s to watch CBeebies… she didn’t have Internet and she still doesn’t. So I’m a bit concerned about that but I also understand that it’s where everything is going and I just hope that people don’t get left behind.”

You can read more about BBC’s plans here.

How to book tickets to see James IV – Queen Of The Fight in Aberdeen

Don’t miss James IV – Queen Of The Fight at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen from October 26 to 29. Tickets can be purchased here.

The show will then be at Eden Court in Inverness from November 2 to 5. Click here if you wish to book tickets.

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