The Six Wives of Henry VIII was a series of six teleplays produced by the BBC and first transmitted between 1 January and 5 February 1970. One of the first major British television series to be videotaped in colour, it was a huge success, propelling its previously little-known star, Keith Michell, into the limelight.
Each of the series of plays was devoted to one of the wives of King Henry VIII of England, and all were of equal length, regardless of the enormous variation in the length of their respective marriages. Each episode was written by a different dramatist.
The wives were:
Catherine of Aragon played by Annette Crosbie (later to become Victor Meldrew's wife in One Foot in the Grave!)
Anne Boleyn played by Dorothy Tutin
Jane Seymour played by Anne Stallybrass
Anne of Cleves played by Elvi Hale
Catherine Howard played by Angela Pleasence
Catherine Parr played by Rosalie Crutchley.
Episode 5 - Catherine Howard
The episode begins with The Duke of Norfolk visiting his mother to see if one of his nieces would be an eligible suit for the king. His ambition is clear. He wants a Howard on the throne of England. We meet Catherine Howard, a vain, cruel and egotistical teenager, who confides in her roommate that she has had a romantic tryst with a young man named Francis Dereham. She is taken by her governess, Lady Rochford, to her uncle who informs her that she is to be the next Queen of England. She states her worries because of what happened to her cousin, Anne Boleyn, but Norfolk assures her if she listens to him, all will be well. Norfolk is concerned though that she is not virginal and Catherine lies that she is untouched. She is taken to meet the king. King Henry, already ill with an ulcer on his leg, is immediately taken with the pretty, young girl. She nurses and flirts with him and Norfolk's dream seems closer. The king decides to take her as his wife but on their wedding night, Henry's impotence is an obstacle. Another obstacle comes when the young Dereham comes to visit the Queen and blackmails her regarding their romance the summer before. To secure her future, Norfolk insists she produce a male heir, in any way possible. Catherine, with the help of Lady Rochford, begins a torrid affair with Thomas Culpepper, Henry's young and dashing personal aide. But months pass with no sign of a child and the court begins to know about the affair. Norfolk then decides to betray his niece to the king before his enemies can. Culpepper and Dereham are taken to the Tower and Norfolk falls out of favor with the king. There is then a dramatic scene where Norfolk and the king's guards come to arrest Catherine and the Lady Rochford. Catherine demands to see the king but is denied. She is taken to the Tower where she rehearses the speech she will give at her execution. The episode ends with the king banishing Norfolk from his sight, and from the royal court.