Henry VIII - Press Archive - ITV "Make Up" Royal Rape
This is London
09 Oct 2003
ITV 'make up' royal rape
By Laura Benjamin, Daily Mail
ITV is being accused of sensationalism after depicting Henry VIII as a
rapist in a new historical drama.
Ray Winstone, as the monarch, is seen assaulting Anne Boleyn &SHY; played
by Helena Bonham Carter &SHY; after they argue about her failure to produce
The scene has no apparent basis in fact and television watchdogs and
historians say it seems to have been included by programme makers
Granada to boost ratings.
John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK, said: I think there is far too much
emphasis on rape, violence and sexual assault on television today and to
put this rape in some kind of clever historical setting is very far from what
viewers would expect.
Television makers do this sort of thing all the time. They write in particular
scenes, sex it all up &SHY; and it adds to the idea that this is an acceptable
activity, which it isnt.
I am sure they include things like this to attract more viewers and improve
the ratings, and including the rape scene in Henry VIII is just another
example of this.
Derek Wilson, a historian who specialises in the reign of Henry VIII
(1509-1547), said: This rape doesnt seem as if it ever took place. It goes
against everything we know about their relationship.
Although he was known for being a bully as he got older, in his younger
years the king was extremely courteous and witty and he abided by the
conventions of his time.
Including this scene is just unnecessary, as the original story of Henry
VIII and his wives is a sensational one anyway.
Surely this is a move by the producers to get more viewers and sex it up &SHY;
but why didnt they just realise a true story like this doesnt need that sort of
Christopher Haigh, a lecturer in history at Christ Church College, Oxford, said:
This rape incident is not something I am aware of at all &SHY; I have never heard
of it before. I think the action would be quite out of character for Henry.
Miss Bonham Carter admits the rape depiction will shock viewers and says
it was difficult to film.
That was a pretty unpleasant scene, as it brought home just what a monster
Henry could be, she said.
Henry VIII, a £6million two-part series, starting on ITV1 on Sunday at 9pm,
tells the story of the monarch and his six wives. It begins when he casts
aside his first spouse, Catherine of Aragon, for Anne.
Writer Peter Morgan said: Plenty of historians will find what we have done
scandalous. But Im aiming to stimulate greater interest in history, rather
than to score points with a particular version of events.
The idea of the gangster king very much informs the piece, he added. Andy
Harries, controller of drama at Granada, says Henry VIII is partly inspired by
Channel 4s Mafia series The Sopranos.
Last month, another ITV historical dramatisation, Boudica, was criticised for
a scene where the queens daughters were raped in front of her.
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