The Six Wives of Henry VIII Series (1970) Review – Catherine Parr Episode

This episode starts off with Henry looking old and unwell and with his fool, Will Somers. He already is thinking of a new wife as he speaks to Somers, saying that his next wife won’t ‘drive you from my side’. Soon we get to see Catherine Parr, she seems modest and quite sensible unlike the wife beforehand. She also doesn’t seem interested in the King, which was true in real life.

Quickly, we are introduced to Thomas Seymour. He asks Somers about Catherine Parr and the King, obviously interested in Catherine. He is told that he can’t have Catherine as the King will have her.

Henry tells Catherine about his youth, saying that he is old now and lonely. Beforehand, he used to be able to get any woman he wanted and ‘woo her’ but now he is just old and fat. She keeps denying that he is old, obviously not wanting to offend him, and then helps him to his chair. He asks her if she is a Catholic and she says no, she wasn’t a Catholic in real life and her religion ends up getting her into trouble. Soon, Catherine convinces Henry to bring his daughters back to court. However, he only agrees to if she marries him. I have to note now that I am disappointed that we haven’t seen much of Mary and virtually nothing of Elizabeth or Edward.

Henry talks about going to war in France to take over his lands.  Right after, Bishop Gardiner says how he is happy with Henry’s choice for his next wife. However, we know that he does not agree with Catherine’s religious views and is lying to the King. In the next scene, we get to see Catherine and Thomas Seymour together. She talks about how he loves her, how he sent her a rose and asks why should she marry the King. She wants Thomas to marry her but he won’t if it means she’s refused the King.

Soon Henry and Catherine are married. On the wedding night, instead of consummating the marriage, Catherine starts reading her book ‘The Lamentations of a Sinner’. This was obviously before it was published but Henry doesn’t listen and wants her to come to bed with him. He is impotent by now and I suppose he just wants her beside him and comforting him.

Thomas Seymour meets up with Catherine later, wanting her to name Edward Seymour protector of the King’s son. He doesn’t want Mary to become queen, he wants England to become completely Protestant. Gardiner, however, thinks the opposite and thinks that Catherine is the devil’s servant. He even comments on the books that her ladies have, that they aren’t allowed. That Catherine should be burnt. Despite this, Henry still makes her regent while he goes to war while France.

I am glad that we get to see Catherine look after Elizabeth and Edward. Even though it is just a short scene, we see her helping Elizabeth with her sewing and Edward leaning against her. This is while she is writing a letter to Henry, hoping that things are going well.

Henry soon returns from France, very happy and glad to see Catherine. He boasts about his victory, saying that he could have taken over years ago if it wasn’t for Wolsey. Quickly, she complains to him about Gardiner burning heretics and accusing her ladies. She keeps arguing even when Gardiner talks to the King in front of her, but the King silences her. He tells her not to dispute with him about matters that aren’t her concern. Like Jane Seymour, Catherine was very sensible and even though she had her own views, she knew when to be quiet.

Next we see one of Catherine’s ladies being tortured. This wasn’t allowed back then but they still went ahead anyway, from what I’ve read and seen now. They were stretching her and trying to get her to condemn the Queen as well as herself. The woman however will not say anything.

Gardiner does start to get his wish, Catherine argues the lady’s fate with the King. He believes that she should be burnt and Catherine accidentally offends him by offending Gardiner. He orders her to leave, if she doesn’t he will get his guards, she leaves and Gardiner convinces Henry to let them investigate her.

Luckily, Catherine is warned of the investigation and warrant for her arrest beforehand. She acts ill when speaking to him, saying that a woman has imperfections and she just wants to learn from him. She wants to question him and be instructed by him. In real life she did this and was very clever, making Henry say: ‘we are friends again’. Henry still allows Gardiner to arrive to arrest her, then acting angry and tearing it up.

Henry eventually starts to die, confused and disorientated. He mentions Jane and then Mary when he is asked if he will name Mary his heir. We then see Mary for the first time since Jane’s episode. He asks Mary to look after Edward and to honour him as King. Catherine arrives but he keeps calling her Jane. When he eventually does recognise her, he asks her to look after Edward too and his men are to look after her as if he still lived. He then dies, crying out ‘monks!’ just before. I have read somewhere that he was talking about monks as he died and this is the only movie/tv series that has used that.

Catherine is told of the King’s death by Thomas Seymour. She is told that Edward Seymour will look after the King’s son, his nephew. Quickly, Thomas proposes to Catherine. She is reluctant but gives in.

I liked this episode, although I think Catherine was truly in love with Thomas Seymour. Other than that, I can’t spot any huge historical inaccuracies. Although, it was a little slow and boring, but then it usually is with Catherine Parr. She is one of my other favourite wives (other than Anne Boleyn) but her story isn’t as exciting as the others.

Rating: 4.5/5


My edit of the Catherine Parr episode.

Overall Series Review:

I did really enjoy this series, even though it did let me down with the Anne Boleyn episode. I found it very interesting and it including parts that other series don’t (Catherine of Aragon and Arthur, Catherine Howard at the Duchess’s house etc.) but some of the historical inaccuracies can be annoying. It may be because of the different writers for each episode, but some episodes can be nearly perfect whereas others (Anne of Cleves) can be so inaccurate. The acting of Keith Michell does help though, as they age him very well and he can play the lovesick Henry as well as the angry one. It makes me overlook some of the inaccuracies and I do enjoy seeing each woman’s point of view.

Overall rating: 4/5


My edit of the Six Wives of Henry VIII series.

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