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142 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
The series comprises a series of screen plays, each dealing with a Queen's story. The series is held together by the magnificent performance of Keith Michell. He IS Henry VIII. He is ably supported by his consorts; Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon shows anger dignity and pain, Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn gives a glimpse of the spirited, single minded woman who...
Published on 12 Mar 2007 by G. R. Arckless

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars some great, some dissapointing
The pageantry, magnificent costumes, background music, background setting was gloriously done and made this series far more engaging to view.
The first episode on Catherine of Aragon (played with great pathos and dignity by Annette Crosbie), was sympathetic portrayal and was certainly the best in the series with intelligent dialogue and a real feel for the age. The...
Published 19 months ago by Gary Selikow


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142 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 12 Mar 2007
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
The series comprises a series of screen plays, each dealing with a Queen's story. The series is held together by the magnificent performance of Keith Michell. He IS Henry VIII. He is ably supported by his consorts; Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon shows anger dignity and pain, Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn gives a glimpse of the spirited, single minded woman who mothered Elizabeth I, Anne Stallybrass leaves us wondering if Jane Seymour was a gentle innocent or the willing tool of a ruthless court faction, Elvi Hale as Anne of Cleves portrays a shrewd woman who seems to achieve exactly what she wants, Angela Pleasance gives a display of innocence, native cunning and unbelievable foolishness, and finally Rosalie Crutchley as Catherine Parr shows a woman driven by duty who survives the treachery all around her. It is the strong casting of other key characters which gives the series depth; Patrick Troughton as Norfolk, and Bernard Hepton as Archbishop Cranmer were born to play those parts.

The series is well researched and soundly based in fact, and although there are of course inaccuracies they are few in comparison with more modern productions. Watch "The Other Boleyn Girl" which is included as a bonus and the contrast is obvious - nor does this series rely on gory special effects to achieve its impact.

I was fascinated by this series when I first watched it as a teenager and it inspired a passion for the Tudor period which has never left me.

The DVD set is excellent value even if the quality of reproduction is not always as sharp as the original.

It is well worth watching. Enjoy!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Henry The Eighth I am, I am, 12 Feb 2010
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SilentSinger (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
I'm too young to have seen this BBC masterpiece when it was first shown in the late 1960s/early 1970s but I'm glad to have seen it released on DVD now. Being a past student of history I'm always keen to see that dramatists reflect events which really happened and don't pad it too much with ephemeral stuff but with the exception of the Anne of Cleves episode this has been beautifully produced and the raft of awards which it received were duly deserved.

The Catherine of Aragon episode was well acted by Annette Crosbie in the title role, although I thought that she didn't hide her native Scottish accent particularly well at times, especially as Catherine was Spanish. However, she was able to recount Catherine's early days in poverty as Prince Arthur's young widow and Henry's first with panache and retain a regal composure when he ultimately annulled their marriage. Anne Boleyn played by Dorothy Tutin was excellent as the intelligent, albeit impulsive, passionate and moody Queen. The sheer number of opposing factions at court was a force to be reckoned with. Anne Stallybrass as Jane Seymour seemed very comfortable in the role and played the doomed Jane with a sweetness and deft manner.

In regard to the three final Queens, the Anne of Cleves episode was most disappointing and it was the scriptwriter's fault rather than the actors. Anne was only married to Henry for 6 months and didn't take much part in the religious issues occurring around her. Elvi Hale was commendable but lost in a stodgy script - surely this episode needed to be trimmed to 1 hour instead of the 90 minute running time of the others? Angela Pleasance who played Catherine Howard unfortunately didn't look young or beautiful enough to play the part. Granted no pictures of Catherine survive today but the casting was all wrong. The Catherine Parr final episode was well paced and unexpectedly thrilling - Rosalie Crutchley played Henry's final Queen with wit and composure.
The other members of the cast were well suited to their roles and Keith Michell really WAS Henry VIII to so many people and he seems to bring the Holbein portrait to life - a fantastic performance. Bernard Hepton as Cramner was brilliant as was the sublime Patrick Troughton as the cunning Duke of Norfolk. In conclusion, a truly brilliant series and why can't they make them like that any more? Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry - eek he's far too thin and with dark hair? As for Ray Winstone - prithee you are having a laugh sire?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best portrayal there is of Henry VIII to date, 6 Oct 2011
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
An absolutely wonderful collective performance - although it has already been said more than a dozen times already on here, but I must add to the chorus of praises, Keith Mitchell is simply magnificent as Henry VIII. Having read a great deal of historical and academic work on this monarch, for me, Mitchell's performance encapsulates everything we know about Henry and it is so obvious that the actor immersed himself totally within this storyline. What I find particularly impressive is his transformation from the idealistic, almost naive and chivalrous young monarch with good intentions to a tyriannical, almost embittered and obese king. Too often, dramas and the public imagination alike recall Henry mostly as the obese, wife-killing monarch.

I have to agree that Annette Crosbie and especially Dorothy Tutin also put on near equally magnificent performances as Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn alike, the latter's refelction on some of her earlier imprudence and haughtiness seem particularly poignant towards the end of the second episode as her downfall progresses, and is much in line with what we know of her personality.

Jane Seymour for me though is the most interesting portrayal. Due to her apparently more reserved personality (probably due to Henry's suppression of her following previous experiences with his wives) and apparent lack of political knowledge, ambition or has also been suggested, intelligence, we know very little about her and certainly even less of her opinions. Yet, the suggestion in this drama that she may well have felt guilty about supplanting an innocent rival is very interesting and clever. Certainly not a theory I have encountered in books, academic works or other dramas before.

However, I do have only a few misgivings about this drama (though indeed, very few) and that is the portrayal of Catherine Howard. I do not blame Angela Pleasence for I feel she put on an otherwise splendid performance. I far preferred the portrayal of Catherine in the film version of this TV series in which she was portrayed (as has been more or less agreed by historians) as an unlucky young woman both with a past and as an unsuspecting tool of the Howards.
Another criticism is that I felt that the drama should have portrayed Anne as slightly more terrified and neurotic whilst in the Tower; a characteristic in which we know her to have deployed in her final days.

Although, all in all, these are just minor reflections in what was overall, a magnificent piece of drama. Lack of blood, guts, gore (and glamour) aside - the likes of The Tudors still pales in comparison to this drama. JRM - take note.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six slices of genius, 7 Oct 2009
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Mrs Mouse (People's Republic of Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
For people of a certain age, like me, this is a box of pure nostalgia. The portrayals by all the leading actors - Keith Michel, Patrick Troughton and all six of the 'wives' - are masterful, and the production is mercifully devoid of the modern preoccupation with sensationalist sex scenes and the current trend for being pointlessly 'adaptated for a modern audience'. The plays - for that is what they really are - are absorbing and believable despite their age. I enjoyed watching them first time round with my parents, and now I'm enjoying them all over again because I can understand more about what's going on, and I've introduced them to my previously-tv-less husband, who is a historian, and who is very impressed! Not for fans of 'the Tudors', but a must for devotees of theatre-quality drama of a type rarely seen these days.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST HENRY VIII EVER!!!!, 24 Feb 2008
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
Watching Keith Michell in this drama is like watching Henry VIII resurrected on to your television screen. Unlike any other actor before or since, Michell nails the character in its entirety - capturing all the machoism, selfishness and egocentricity of the King, while still keeping that sensitive underbelly that makes Henry VIII such a fascinating figure. The writing of this drama shows the King's personality in all its extremities - at one moment hatefully cruel and at another warmly affectionate, and you can't help but admire him for his lion-like ability to stay head above the intrigue and conspiracies of his court.

Michell's performance is matched with strong, intellectual performances of all the six wives, my favourite was Annette Crosbie's strong and regal Katherine of Aragon. Other great character performances are Thomas Cromwell, Lady Rochford and of course Bernard Hepton's perfect Thomas Cranmer.

All in all, a more or less perfect recreation of Henry VII's life - historically accurate in both it's storyline and setting, this is a top notch production with superb character performances and talented writing. A classy, clever series that's a step above the rest.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIVAT REX - AT LONG LAST!, 11 May 2007
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Green Knight (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
Long overdue, but worth the wait. This superb series of lengendary 90-minute plays is at last available on Region 2 DVD - re-mastered, and looking wonderful.

If you remember that television drama was never meant to be poor man's cinema, the series has a theatrical quality about it which works to its advantage and makes it all the more riveting.

The acting is superb, and there is a standard of English speech that has now virtually disappeared - especially from the small screen. This quality gives a required weight to the excellent and literate scripts.

(If you don't know what I mean, have a look at the frightful 'The Other Boleyn Girl' on the extra disc, and compare. The cast of this look and sound like estate agents in fancy dress.)

In the Henry plays, we can believe in this magnificent King and his world utterly - sharing in his triumphs, tragedies, and vulnerability - just as we can also believe in every one of the wives, and the machiavellian court that surrounds them.

So what if a microphone shows in one scene ? So what if there are occasional boom shadows ? Just enjoy the drama. They don't make 'em like this any more. Unfortunately.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic historical drama, 15 Nov 2008
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
A remarkable achievement by the BBC, some 30 years old but compares well with their current offerings. There is one episode for each wife, all played by top actresses - I would single out those playing Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour as especially good - with an excellent supporting cast including Patrick Troughton as Norfolk and Bernard Hepton as Cranmer. The real life stories of the wives are more dramatic than any fiction. Costumes are beautifully done although sets are fairly basic. Above all Keith Michell gives an outstanding performance as Henry VIII as he changes from a gifted young man to an ageing tyrant - yet his performance is complex and you never quite lose some sympathy for him. A triumph.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars some great, some dissapointing, 26 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
The pageantry, magnificent costumes, background music, background setting was gloriously done and made this series far more engaging to view.
The first episode on Catherine of Aragon (played with great pathos and dignity by Annette Crosbie), was sympathetic portrayal and was certainly the best in the series with intelligent dialogue and a real feel for the age. The film certainly captures a sympathy for the dignified stubbornness and total piousness of Henry's first queen, as it does a great performance of the stingy and scheming Henry VII (John Woodnutt). the way the couple grow from being young and attractive into Catherine's older worn character and Henry developing into an overweight scheming tyrant is well portrayed too.
But the scriptwriters in the next few episodes seem to suffer from a rather bigoted and archaic view of women judging with out most sympathy the sexually virtuous and staid such as Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour (Anne Stallybrass) and total villification of the two queens who were branded 'whores' and murdered on Henry's orders. i.e the puritnaical old portrayal as women as either vrtuous saints or despicable whores.

I though The Other Boleyn Girl both the book by Philipa Gregory and the movie starring Natalie Portman was unecessarily unsympathetic to Ann Boleyn , going back over 30 years , it has nothing on this series. It is completely sympathetic to Henry , presents Anne as self-serving, scheming and malicious and all but tries to present the case that she deserved to be executed. The truth must have been different.
Katherine Howard 9played by Angela Pleasance) who was in reality simple and perhaps promiscuous but certainly good hearted and whose cruel fate was perhaps the most callous and detestable of Henry's crimes is here depicted as wanton, scheming, shrewish and everything bad-once again seemingly trying to present the case for Henry and implying she deserved, a victim of power if ever there was one.
Although this series was done in 1970 during the height of the sexual revolution, the writers of these pieces still were coloured by a very dour view.
Anne of Cleeves (Elvi Hale) is presented in top form as witty and clever. The screenplay on her and on Katherine of Aragon are the best done in this series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 10 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a classic from the golden age of tv drama. They simply don't make them like this any more. Having said that, a word of caution: the drama is very much in the talk. There are few outdoor shots, and most of the indoor scenes take place in gloomy panelled rooms. Eye candy it ain't (apart from the magnificent costumes). So you do have to make a bit of an effort to follow what are sometimes quite complex events. But your efforts will be well rewarded, and I found each successive episode more gripping. From the history point of view, some of the treatment is questionable. I thought they were very generous to Anne Boleyn, and a bit hard on Jane Seymour. But six 90-minute dramas for your tenner - it's a bargain.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This IS henry VIII!, 17 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
I saw this item before on amazon but was in two minds if to get it or not as it was from 1970 i thought it would be a bit poor compared to the standards today...how wrong was i!!!!!!!!! keith mitchell is the BEST henry VIII ive seen,its like watching the real life henry,if you know what i mean.i was also impressed with the other actors,in the first dvd(catherine of aragon and anne boleyn)the henry VII(henrys father) was spot on,the welsh accent and everything!!!! annette crosbie is superb,she plays catherine of aragon so well,a very good cast! a must for anyone interested in history!!!! im so glad i finally bought this.
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