Even the country’s prime minister thinks the show maligns Suleiman the Magnificent, and it could lead to a law banning misrepresentation of historical figures.
Age: He was born in 1494 and died 1566, so knocking on, though he looks pretty good in Magnificent Century.
Magnificent Century? You have clearly not been keeping up with your Turkish soap operas. It is a hugely popular serial dramatising the life of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman bin Selim Khan.
Appearance: WG Grace wearing a tea cosy in most representations, but blue-eyed hunk with a tightly cropped black beard in Magnificent Century.
A few random historical facts to get them out of the way: Reigned from 1520 until his death; called “the Lawgiver” by the Ottomans and “the Magnificent” by everyone else; conquered most of central Europe, the Middle East and north Africa; reorganised Ottoman administration; codified the legal system; revolutionised agriculture; encouraged the arts; a right clever dick, in fact.
Sounds magnificent. Yes, hence the nickname.
All jolly interesting, but is the latest Turkish TV sensation really worth covering in this prestige slot? The point about the show is that its critics, who include Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, argue that it is not a portrayal of Suleiman the Magnificent so much as Suleiman the Sex Maniac.
Lots about the harem? Indeed, and not much about the annexation of Hungary.
Telly is always like that. Not in Turkey. One MP, with Erdogan’s backing, is proposing a law to ban shows that “denigrate, insult, pervert or misrepresent historical events and personages”. On the other side, Erdogan’s enemies argue he is using the controversy to impose authoritarian Ottoman values that threaten the secular republic established by Kemal Atatürk with the collapse of the Ottoman empire after the first world war.
Would a law banning literary perversion work in the UK? Richard III, Henry VIII and Ethelred the Unready certainly think so. At the very least, we need Lord Justice Leveson to look at it.
Not to be confused with: Suleiman II, who reigned briefly, from 1687-91, and was, like most sequels, a complete turkey.
Do say: “This is an affront to the Turkish democratisation process.”
Don’t say: “No it’s not, it’s in-sultan” (boom-boom).