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April 13, 2009

Showtime renews -- and ends -- 'The Tudors'

Tudors_305_0512 Next year Showtime's The Tudors will run out of wives.

The network has renewed the historical melodrama for a fourth and final season.

The pickup consists of 10 episodes that Showtime says will dramatize King Henry VIII's last two tumultuous  marriages, to Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.

The new episodes will continue the show's current quickened matrimonial pace of going through two wives per season, a narrative strategy that was planned from the show's outset given that Henry's first two wives (Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn) were the best known and most influential.

The final season will air in the spring of next year and will be written by series creator Michael Hirst, who in a display of prolific energy, is single-handedly writing all 38 episodes of the saga. Ending the Tudors also frees up Hirst to work on a Camelot project he's developing for the network. With Showtime recently rejecting several other projects, including an L-Word spinoff, there's likely to be a slot or two still available (and if Camelot follows the Tudors model, the project would be picked up straight to series).

The third season of The Tudors recently debuted to steady, strong ratings for the network. Given the show's historical nature, the series was never seen as a program that could run indefinitely. The question was only whether The Tudors would receive healthy enough numbers to finish at its own pace.

“I'm thrilled to complete the saga of Henry VIII as reconceived by Michael Hirst," said Showtime president Robert Greenblatt. "He and [star] Jonathan Rhys Meyers have breathed new life into the costume drama by making it both modern in sensibility but also faithful to history. I think we proved that even after 500 years this is a great story."

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