David Starkey is to produce a four-part “psychological profile” of Henry VIII for Channel 4. The as-yet-untitled series will go beyond the facts of Henry’s six wives and his split with the Catholic church to piece together a sense of his character and motivations. Soundtrack available here.
The series will be broadcast in April, to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne and a major British Library exhibition on the monarch.
The soundtrack has been composed by Philip Sheppard and is based on music written by Henry himself, as well as themes drawn from Tudor contemporary composers such as Philippe Verdelot and Robert Fayrfax. The score is being performed by Philip Sheppard, together with the superb vocal consort Alamire (directed by Dr David Skinner) and viol consort Fretwork.
Click the play button below to hear a preview of one of the tracks to be featured in the programme – ‘O Dolce Nocte’ by Philip Sheppard after Philippe Verdelot, featuring Alamire:
The first 60-minute episode will show Henry as a highly intelligent child, while subsequent episodes will paint him as a brilliant “A-list celebrity” character with an over-developed ego and “solipsistic sense of self”.
David Sington, who will direct the series for Red House Dox Productions, said:
“[David Starkey] will ask which events changed Henry, and in changing him, changed the British character. He was convinced of his own destiny and shaped us as an island nation, cut off from the continent…. He’s not a Bluebeard character, however. He emerges as a sympathetic character even though he does terrible things.”
Indeed, the Daily Mail has just run a story, resulting from one of Starkey’s more surprising discoveries; Henry’s possible use of a stairlift towards the end of his life.