Friday, 02 December 2016
Six Wives With Lucy Worsley
Lucy Worsley sneaks into Henry VIII’s bedchamber
Written by Ben Felsenburg
‘Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.’ The mnemonic rhyme pretty much sums up all we remember about the women who had the misfortune to marry Henry VIII. in Six Wives With Lucy Worsley (BBC1, Wednesday, 9pm), the presenter and historian completes the popular picture: ‘bitter and abandoned’ (Katherine of Aragon), ‘the other woman’ (Anne Boleyn), ‘a bit of a doormat’ (Jane Seymour), ‘ugly’ (Anne of Cleves), ‘slept around’ (Catherine Howard), ‘saintly nurse’ (Catherine Parr).
But satisfyingly familiar though this ladybird version may be, how much of it is truth and how much Tudor propaganda? To find out, the ever-game Ms Worsley goes back in time on our behalf. In this three-part series with a rum new format that’s part documentary, part dramatisation, she’s excitedly playing a thinly justified game of dress-up as the minor characters of the court. So as Henry and his wives act out the pivotal scenes from their marriages, Worsley the maid or midwife looks on in silence, except to interject to camera with her scholarly observations. The trouble is, she’s a far more captivating performer than the actors in the historic roles, and she sports the costumes with a darn sight more aplomb.
Still, it’s a gaily racy whizz through history, starting with the first marriage, to Katherine of Aragon, which lasted, we’re reminded, for 24 years. One might suggest ‘bitter’ should be replaced with ‘relieved’.
NOT TO BE MISSED
SECRET LIFE OF PUPPIES C5, Mon, 9pm
Dalmatian cross Suki and Big Ron the English bulldog go through the ‘terrible twos’ as the series returns.
DIGGING FOR BRITAIN BBC4, Tue, 9pm
Alice Roberts gets down and dirty in a new series featuring archaeological sites from the First World War and from the Stone Age.
VIENNA: EMPIRE, DYNASTY AND DREAM BBC4, Thur, 9pm
The swirl of culture, revolution and history that was the capital of the Habsburg empire is explored by historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.