11 AM Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. We’re using the Long Gallery here as rooms in Walsingham’s house. In today’s scenes Sir Francis entertain his brother. This is one of those scenes that people will write to me about as there are a number of key differences from ‘history’.
Firstly in our film Walsingham has a brother William, whereas we know that Sir Francis was an only son. So why do we have him? For me having this brother brings the intrigue, suspicions and fears of the age closer to home for Walsingham, so we can see the effects on him and those close to him. Walsingham can so often seem a distant, cold character, hanging around in the back of shot, whereas he was in truth a far more complex and interesting character than that. Our invented brother gives us a chance to explore that complexity a little more.
That’s not the only strange name in this scene however. At the Walsingham home we also meet Sir Francis wife, Ursula (who very much did exist) and his daughter Mary. The Walsinghams did have a daughter Mary but she died at the age of 7. The daughter we meet, who was around 21 at the time of the Armada, was actually called Frances. Having a Francis and a Frances in the same scenes seemed confusing to us so we switched the names round.
So do changes like this matter? Is it OK to invent new characters or change the names of extant ones? Let us know what you think.