LOS ANGELES — It only seemed as though all of England was entranced last month by the birth of Prince George.
There was at least one Brit who didn't even have a passing interest in the royal arrival — author Philippa Gregory.
"I am utterly indifferent about Kate Middleton's baby," Gregory says. "I know this is awful news. It's terrible. It's like blasphemy."
It's not that Gregory doesn't care about the British monarchy. She just prefers a more historical look at their lives and loves as shown in her books, "The Red Queen," "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Kingmaker's Daughter." Her "The Cousins' War" series has been tuned into a 10-part production, "The White Queen," for the Starz network.
The series is told from the perspective of the three determined women who in 1464 lay claim to the English throne — Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville — while the men are fighting in England's War of the Roses, a blood feud between two sides of the same family: The House of York and The House of Lancaster.
The House of York's young heir Edward IV (Max Irons) is crowned King of England with the help of his mentor and adviser, the master manipulator Lord Warwick (James Frain). When Edward falls in love with a beautiful Lancastrian commoner, Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), Warwick's plan to control the throne seems thwarted. This sparks a struggle for the crown among the three women.
The series has been adapted by British screenwriter Emma Frost from three novels: "The White Queen," "The Red Queen" and "The Kingmaker's Daughter." Frost discovered as she read the books that while the events unfolded centuries ago, the stories have a very modern feel, especially when dealing with family.
Frost used Woodville and her mother, Jacquetta (Janet McTeer), as the focal point of the scripts.
"The mother/daughter relationship is pretty much straight from the books. It was wonderful to have this very warm relationship, because I think what characterizes a lot of the mother/child relationships in the period is they seem quite cold to us. They send the children away. They don't seem loving in the way that we understand now," Frost says.
"What was so wonderful was to have this relationship between Jacquetta and Elizabeth that was just this joyful, warm heart in a world that actually, otherwise, was quite politically complex and difficult and quite unpleasant a lot of the time in what people were doing to each other.
"So there's this wonderful beating heart in the middle between these two characters."
The biggest beneficiary of Gregory's passion for the past and Frost's focus on family is the relatively unknown Ferguson who plays Woodville. The Swedish actress wasn't aware of the rich history of the character until she read the script.
"This is not my history, so I was sort of amazed by the high stakes. This is what happened during this time: You'd be York, then Lancaster, you're on the throne, you're off the throne, you're in a monastery," Ferguson says.
"For me, it was just hanging in there with Elizabeth, just thinking, 'How do you protect your boys? How do you protect the heir off and on the throne?'
"I was amazed at how quickly things would change during that time."
"The White Queen": 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, on Starz
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.