The violence, sex and corruption of
the Tudor court is to be played out on
TV screens in a dramatisation of the Henry VIII story.
Granada Television has commissioned
screenwriter Alan Bleasdale to paint
a warts-and-all picture of the period, omitting none of the seamier
of Henry's reign.
Ray Winstone, best known for his East
End gangster roles, has been cast to
play the king; and leading TV actors such as Anna Friel and Kathy
being mentioned as possible candidates to play his wives. The
is intended to be one of ITV's highlights next year.
Granada said that the series would show
the "ruthless ambitions, power
struggles and the magnificence" of the period. The resulting
be a "sexy mix of power, intrigue, glamour and danger".
Henry's six wives will
feature strongly but the show will also explore his whole 40-year
a fantastic part for an actor to get his teeth into," said
Winstone, who was
last seen on screen in the ITV series Tough Love.
Andy Harries, the controller of drama
and comedy at Granada, said the project
should prove popular with modern viewers. "Henry VIII's
reputation as a
womaniser and tyrant lives on 500 years after his death,"
he said. Bleasdale,
creator of Boys from the Black Stuff, was the obvious choice:
"He's the perfect
writer to portray fully the cut and thrust of the Tudor court."
The commission comes as BBC1 is having
trouble with its drama output.
The last four Sunday night series have been ratings disasters.
which until recently was a ratings banker, will not return after
the end of the
Nick Elliott, controller of drama at
the ITV network, taunted the corporation
over its troubles, claiming that ITV was the "benchmark"
for quality drama.
He told MediaGuardian that the BBC was running scared. "What
to do is have the courage of their convictions and go ahead with
night stuff like Clocking Off. The pieces they've had at 9pm
on Sunday recently
have been very skewed away from the mainstream audience. Love
in a Cold
Climate was so upper class and Take a Girl Like You was not very
But they seem to have panicked."
One option for the BBC would be to schedule
the planned fourth episode of
EastEnders on a Sunday.
Alan Yentob, the BBC's director of drama
and entertainment, denied this week
that the Sunday night battleground was a problem for the BBC,
like Monarch of the Glen and the Warren Clarke vehicle Down to
providing "green shoots".
Five faces of bluff Hal
Private Life of Henry VIII
Bawdy version in black and white directed by Alexander Korda
Fine performance by Charles Laughton earned him a best actor
A Man for All Seasons
Unforgettable multiple Oscar- winning film of 1966, with Robert
Henry VIII and co-starring Paul Scofield and Orson Welles
Anne of the Thousand Days
1969 costume drama for Universal Pictures nominated for 10 Oscars.
Richard Burton as smouldering Henry with Genevieve Bujold as
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
1970 BBC production in six parts starring Keith Michell as Henry
opposite leading ladies including Angela Pleasence and Annette
Carry on Henry
Lighthearted 1971 version starring Sid James as amorous Henry
Publicity slogan was: "A great guy with his chopper"