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144 of 146 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 7 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 on 26 Dec. 2012 by Gary Selikow


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144 of 146 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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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIVAT REX - AT LONG LAST!, 11 May 2007
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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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18 of 19 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 "Wife, mother, reader. Preferred... (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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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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42 of 45 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best from the BBC, 21 April 2003
'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' is a marvellous drama serial. Originally transmitted by the BBC in the early 1970s as six ninety minute episodes, it is now captured on video. Everything about it is stunning; the perfect costumes, which help the actors to look exactly like their characters; the magnificent acting from a star-studded cast; the remarkable historical accuracy.
The production team did an enormous amount of research to provide accurate portrayals of the notoriously virile king and the women in his life. The result is an utterly riveting and intensely moving drama, that is at the same time as accurate as possible. This is, without a doubt, the definitive dramatisation of the reign of possibly the most famous monarch in history.
Each episode is devoted to the very different stories of Henry's six marriages and the series ends with his death, after murdering so many others before him.
The six women emerge as entirely different characters, who were at times fighting a deadly battle with each other, and many others, to keep the love of the king that they feared so much, yet despite their different personalities, you grow to love, respect and sympathise with each of them. However, Catherine of Aragon - Henry's first wife - is my favourite because of her inspring bravery, strong principles and dignified defiance.
These women are played to perfection by six extremely talented actresses, but the star of the show is Keith Michell in one of the greatest and most memorable performances of all time (greater even than the likes of Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, in my opinion). Michell repeated his role a year later in the film 'Henry VIII and His Six Wives' and thirty years later in the BBC drama serial 'The Prince and the Pauper'.
The prestigious supporting cast includes Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon ('One Foot in the Grave', 'Oliver Twist'), Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn ('Cromwell', 'A Tale of Two Cities'), Anne Stallybrass as Jane Seymour ('The Onedin Line', 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'), Elvie Hale as Anne of Cleves, Angela Pleasance as Catherine Howard ('Mansfield Park'), Rosalie Crutchley as Catherine Parr (who repeated her role in 'Elizabeth R' and played Catherine of Aragon in 'The Sword and the Rose'), Bernard Hepton as Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (who repeated his role in 'Elizabeth R' and 'Henry VIII and His Six Wives' and also starred in 'I Claudius' and 'Gandhi'), Wolfe Morris as Thomas Cromwell, Patrick Troughton as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk ('Edward & Mrs Simpson'), John Ronane as Thomas Seymour (who repeated his role in 'Elizabeth R'), Basil Dignam as Steven Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester (who repeated his role in 'Elizabeth R'), Sheila Burrel as Lady Jane Rochford, John Baskcomb as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey ('The Forsyte Saga' and 'Poldark'), Ralph Bates as Thomas Culpepper ('Poldark'), Jonathan Newth as Lord George Boleyn ('Poldark') and Mollie Sugden as Lotte, Anne of Cleves' lady-in-waiting ('Are You Being Served?').
If you are a fan of the classic dramas of the era, such as, 'I Claudius', 'The Forsyte Saga', 'Poldark', 'War and Peace' and 'Elizabeth R' or if you are interested in Tudor history, this is definitely for you. Make sure you buy all six.
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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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13 of 14 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes The Viewer Back In Time, 3 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD] (DVD)
I can not say too much in praise of all the famous BBC historical dramas made in the 1970's, including Henry VIII, Elizabeth R, Fall of Eagles and I, Claudius.
It is a real pleasure to watch Keith Michell's marvelous performance as he goes from being an idealistic, handsome young man to a bloated, diseased, paranoid prematurely old man.
Others have praised this series, so I will mention a few negative points.
(1) I found the first two episodes rather slow moving, with Catherine and Anne Boleyn spending much time saying "woe is me!". I prefer the later episodes where there is more court intrigue, politics and fights over the future of the Church of England.
(2) I found the writers didn't really know what to make of Anne Boleyn. At first she seems to be an ambitious, scheming woman who does everything possible to push Catherine of Aragon aside, including supporting the executions of Fisher and Thomas More. Later she becomes something of a shrew, publicly berating her husband for taking mistresses, even though her brother warned her to accept things they way they were and to keep her mouth shut.
At the end, when apparently falsely accused of treason and adultery she becomes a saintly martyr figure who denounces those who conduct the farcical trial and she faces death bravely and with much religious faith.
(3) Thomas Cromwell is a key figure in the reign of Henry VIII. He was a commoner who reached the highest positions of power in the court. Yet, in the Anne of Cleves episode, he seems to turn against his master and accuses him of being a monster, after doing so much to help him in his struggles to break church ties with Rome and to confiscating Church property, in addition to working very hard to remove those prominent people who stood in his way. It is not made clear exactly how the King decided to have Cromwell executed other than we see that the King was angry at Cromwell's pushing Anne of Cleves on him and the fact that Cromwell had many powerful enemies at court. It is said that the King later regretted having him executed.

Having said this, I still find it a real pleasure to watch the series, and I particularly love seeing the costumes which are taken from famous portraits made at the time of the characters. I also like the dances and authentic music of the period.
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11 of 12 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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