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Henry VIII

William Shakespeare and John Fletcher's play depicting the life of Henry VIII, first broadcast to mark the 500th anniversary of the king's accession to the throne.

A rare chance to hear Shakespeare's last play, starring Matthew Marsh and Patrick Malahide. Originally recorded to mark the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII.

In 1509, the 17-year-old Henry acceded to the throne of England. Shakespeare's play, co-authored with John Fletcher, opens with the arrest for treason of the Duke of Buckingham 12 years later, and tells the story of Henry's struggle to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and the catastrophic fall of the all-powerful Cardinal Wolsey.

Henry VIII ..... Matthew Marsh
Queen Katherine ..... Yolanda Vazquez
Cardinal Wolsey ..... Patrick Malahide
Duke of Norfolk ..... Joseph Mydell
Thomas Cranmer ..... Adam Godley
Duke of Suffolk ..... Stuart McQuarrie
Old Lady ..... Ann Beach
Anne Boleyn ..... Donnla Hughes
Buckingham/Cromwell ..... Paul Rider
Chamberlain/Capuchius ..... Chris Pavlo
Abergavenny/Surrey ..... Stephen Critchlow
Surveyor/Gardiner ..... Gunnar Cauthery
Sands/Campeius ..... Jonathan Tafler
Lovell/Griffith ..... Dan Starkey
Princess Elizabeth ..... Sonny Crowe
Other parts played by Jill Cardo, Robert Lonsdale, Manjeet Mann, Inam Mirza, Malcolm Tierney.
Pipe and Tabor played by Bill Tuck

Adapted for radio and directed by Jeremy Mortimer
First broadcast in April 2009

Known sometimes by the title 'All is True', Shakespeare and Fletcher's rarely performed play is a masterful analysis of the murky world of Tudor politics. A world where nothing can be taken on face value. Wolsey (Patrick Malahide) has control of the key offices of state as both Chancellor and Cardinal of York. Henry (Matthew Marsh) appears to be oblivious to criticism levelled at Wolsey by some of his senior courtiers, and the play opens with the trial and execution of one of Wolsey's most outspoken critics, the Duke of Buckingham. The trial of Katherine of Aragon (Yolanda Vazquez), motivated by Henry's scruple that his marriage to his late brother's wife was unlawful, is one of the most poignant scenes in Shakespeare. Henry is seen to be moved by Katherine's plight, and protests that she is the best of women. Following the divorce, Cardinal Wolsey is the author of his own undoing when he unwittingly reveals to Henry the true extent of his own profit from his position, and that he has been plotting with the Pope to undermine Henry's bid to marry Anne Boleyn. The play finishes with the rise of reformer Thomas Cranmer, and ends with the christening of the young Elizabeth.

2 hours, 30 minutes

Music Played

  • Edward Elgar

    Introduction and Allegro for string orchestra (Op.47) [complete]

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vernon Handley.
    • Elgar: Violin Concerto and Introduction & Allegro: Nigel Kennedy.
    • EMI Classics.
    • 5.

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