There was nothing really wrong with the first episode of this new series – other than referring to Catherine of Aragon as “Princess Catherine” rather than “the Infanta Catherine” – but why will the TV companies not get over their obsession with Henry VIII and give us some programmes on the many other interesting monarchs in English/British history?
Dan Snow and Suzannah Lipscomb are clearly very conscious that everyone’s heard the story of “Henry VIII and his Six Wives” a zillion times before, and are trying to their best to make it sound as if they’re not just retelling a very familiar tale; but there really isn’t anything new to say. It’s the best-known episode in our entire history. Even people who have no interest in history whatsoever are familiar with it. We do not need yet another series going over and over the same ground, when there are so many other stories to tell instead. Give us a series about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their “Devil’s Brood”! Or James II and how he was overthrown by his son-in-law. Or the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. Or the deposition of Richard II. Go Shakespearean and talk about Henry V. What about the Regency? Or let’s have Prime Ministers for a change – the Gladstone/Disraeli rivalry always makes a good talking point. Or the coffee house politics of earlier times. There are so many areas of our history which never even get a mention on TV. We just do not need yet another series on Henry VIII! There was nothing wrong with this programme, but it was telling a story that everyone already knows inside out, upside down and back to front. Let’s have something different, please!