Creative Brand Communications


May 2, 2013

Icons of history are given a modern day makeover.

LONDON, 2nd May 2013: Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Marie Antoinette and Horatio Nelson have been magically transported to the 21st Century via a unique art project commissioned by the nation’s biggest factual channel Yesterday to celebrate its new historical series Secret Life Of…. starting on Thursday 2nd May at 9pm.

A team of digital artists spent three months updating a series of classic portraits – working closely with award-winning academic, author and historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb to ensure the new artworks accurately reflect how the historical figures might look in 2013.

Dr Lipscomb leaned heavily on the insight gained from the ‘Secret Life Of’ series, which delves deep into the lives of iconic historical figures and dishes the dirt on their hitherto unexplored secret lives.

Each modern day recreation provides an incredible insight into what some of the most revered figures in history would look like, had they lived in today’s society complete with cosmetic surgery, pearly white teeth, and the latest fashion wear.

Adrian Wills, General Manager of Yesterday commented: ‘Secret Life Of… takes a completely new perspective on the lives on some of history’s most fascinating and notorious figures. Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Marie Antoinette and Nelson are among the iconic personalities whose lifestyles and habits are dissected through the eyes of the contemporary, celebrity-obsessed world.  These great characters are reimagined with a modern take, showing them in a completely different light – much like the new re-versioned portraits.

Henry VIII

HENRY VIII - low res

  • Renowned for being vain and lavish, King Henry has been given white veneers and hair plugs to hide his balding head
  • Henry VIII, known to flaunt his wealth, is now out of his voluminous puffed sleeve velvet gown and in a tailored designer black suit, wearing a sparkling diamond ring and designer watch
  • Instead of the cotton shirt fastened up to the chin he now sports an unbuttoned shirt ‘Simon Cowell’ style and is very much the ‘modern day lady killer’
  • An avid sportsman and known for being conceited he has been slimmed down. Henry’s vanity would have ensured he would have retained the naturally muscly, rugby-player type figure he had in his youth
  • Known for having spent a lot of time outdoors riding, hunting, and playing tennis, Henry VIII has  also been given a tan
  • Henry VIII has exchanged his uncomfortable flat footed shoes for modern shoes with a heel


Elizabeth I  


  • A powerful no-nonsense female leader, Elizabeth might have straightened her hair  in a powerful yet stylish short cropped style
  • Known for her love of fashion, she would be more likely to wear a bespoke stylish and unique female suit made with rich colours and material
  • Rarely pictured smiling, Queen Elizabeth exudes power in the modern day portrait, and hides her new veneers purchased to disguise her notoriously bad teeth


Marie Antoinette


  • Her three-foot tall hair has been let down and her unusually high forehead concealed with a  trendy fringe
  • Known for her crooked teeth in her youth she has been given a full modern-day orthodontic treatment
  • Teased for her small breasts as a teenager, she has been given breast implants
  • Known for being fashionable and changing clothes three times a day, Marie Antoinette is dressed in a modern designer dress. Reported to express how she was feeling through the accessories in her wig, she is wearing a flirty Philip Treacey style hat
  • Her modern day portrait also shows the her fully-made up in colourful make-up


William Shakespeare


  • Daring and forward thinking hipster Shakespeare has been fashioned as a ‘modern day playwright’ with his edgy Shoreditch shirt and waistcoat look.
  • He has been given piercings on both ears, leaving questions about his sexuality unanswered.
  • An actor as well as a playwright, Shakespeare might have taken advantage of modern-day hair transplanting techniques to sport a full head of hair like numerous celebrity actors.


Horatio Nelson


  • A Vice Admiral and dedicated navy officer Nelson is dressed in a modern naval uniform
  • In today’s Navy – Nelson would spend more time deskbound and as such he would have gained a little weight which is reflected in the portrait
  • To replace the right arm lost after being wounded in battle, he has been given a prosthetic to wear
  • The Victoria Cross wasn’t available during his time but had they been in existence, he would have qualified


The biography with a difference, Secret Life Of… the new and exclusive 14-part series with its tongue firmly in its cheek, deliciously dishes the dirt on icons of the past starting with Henry VIII on Thursday 2nd May at 9pm commissioned by the UK’s leading factual channel, Yesterday.

The series lifts the lid on established and renowned superstars from history to reveal their secret lives, including Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon. The rumours about their sex-lives, wacky clothes, and extravagant purchases are all exposed and given the same modern day scrutiny that celebrities receive from the media today.

For interview and hi-res images contact Taylor Herring PR



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