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Six Wives Of Henry VIII Six Wives Of Henry VIII


Classic TV Revisited: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII



The Six Wives Of Henry VIII was a slice of period drama that aired on BBC Two in 1970 and starred Keith Michell, Annette Crosbie, Dorothy Tutin, Anne Stallybrass, Anthony Quayle, Patrick Troughton.

Classic romp through the life and spouses of the larger than life Tudor monarch.

Why was it golden?
Its plot was all sex and lies on videotape, and it was about royalty, so how could it fail? The all-star cast headed by Keith Michell — later to become Captain Beaky — won a palace-full of awards.

Didn’t an Aussie play Henry VIII?
Yes Michell had been playing Henry in a West End play for three years.

Who played the queens?
Off with your head for not knowing that. Annette Crosbie was Catherine of Aragon; Dorothy Tutin, Anne Boleyn; Anne Stallybrass, Jane Seymour; Elvi Hales, Anne of Cleves; Angela Pleasence, Catherine Howard; and Rosalie Crutchley, Catherine Parr.

What was the score?
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. It was narrated by Anthony Quayle and also starred ex-Dr Who Patrick Troughton.

Was it popular?
It won BBC2’s biggest audience at the time of 4m, went on to be repeated on BBC1 and was sold to 75 countries.

What about Keith Michell?
It was one of the high points of his career, along with a film version in 1973 in which he reprised his role as Henry.

What about the TV queens?
They were all axed in favour of the more glamorous Charlotte Rampling, Jane Asher and Lynne Frederick for the movie.

How did Keith Michell metamorphose from Henry into Captain Beaky?
Keith crooned his way into the Top 30 in 1971 and then resurrected his talents as Captain Beaky, who made No 5 in 1980.

How irritatingly catchy was it?
“The bravest animals in the land are Captain Beaky and his band…” The baddy was Hissing Sid the Snake and the band included Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Petula Clarke, Noel Edmonds and Penelope Keith.

How does Keith Michell rate against other screen Henrys?
Very favourably as they include Robert Shaw, Charles Laughton and Sid James.

Missing Sid?
Aren’t we all. How can we forget Sid leering his way through Tudor times with characters such as Lord Hampton of Wick?

Dissing Sid?
While Sid’s lecherous performance may live longer in the memory, Michell was probably the best of the bunch.

Was Keith anything like Henry?
While Henry wed six times and was a glutton, Keith managed only one wife and loved health foods.

Distinguishing features?
A great guy with his chopper. Loads of doublet and hose with lashings of executions.

Do say:
“I’m ‘enery the Eighth, I am… I got married to the widow next door, she’d been married seven times before. Everyone was an ‘enery…” etc. (Apologies to Herman’s Hermits.)

Do not say:
“Anyone who annoys the Pope is no friend of mine.”

Not to be confused with:
Thierry Henry, Henry Cooper, Henry Fonda, First Wives Club, old wives’ tales, Phil Mitchell.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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