Britain’s Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court

How much did Henry VIII love his son? So much that he didn’t go to his christening.

That sounds like sarcasm, but it isn’t. Having waited decades for an heir (and created the Church of England just so he could finish the job) Henry was determined that no-one should outshine the infant Prince Edward on his big day – including himself.

In his place, around a hundred courtiers processed through Hampton Court Palace as part of the most lavish ceremony ever staged there. And to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cardinal Wolsey’s Tudor masterpiece, telly historians David Starkey and Lucy Worsley (whose day job just happens to the palace’s Chief Curator) thought it would be a good wheeze to recreate this famously opulent occasion, albeit on a BBC budget.

Bit awkward this, as it happens, because Dr David and Dr Lucy have a bit of… well, history. In 2009, Starkey – the sort of man who could happily pick a fight with his own shadow – accused female historians of turning Henry’s life into a ‘soap opera’ by constantly banging on about his wives. Worsley hit back, accusing Starkey of misogyny and claiming there was more to history than ‘dead, powerful white guys’. Later, Starkey made a swipe about female historians being ‘usually quite pretty’, to which Worsley responded, rather magnificently, that Starkey himself looked like ‘a cross owl’. Talk about silk purses at dawn.

Anyway, they’ve buried the halberd now, and seemed positively chummy here - though there was a moment when Worsley entered the Queen’s bedchamber, from which all men were banned, and took great delight in slamming the door in her co-presenter’s owly face.

The Queen, of course, was Jane Seymour. Wisely, it was left to Worsley to describe how Henry’s third wife had been no oil painting (a view largely based, confusingly, on Holbein’s oil painting).

Plain Jane didn’t get to attend her son’s christening either, as she was still confined to her bed – and subsequently died, largely of neglect, less than two weeks later. Edward also failed to make adulthood, so what had started as a glorious, happy celebration ultimately ended in tragedy and heartache. Maybe the Tudors really were a soap opera after all.

TV extra: 

The Real Housewives of Cheshire

The latest in the unstoppable Real Housewives franchise turned the spotlight on the walking spray-tans of Cheshire’s ‘Golden Triangle’ where, among others, we met former WAG Dawn (‘Mina, don’t speak!’ she yelled at one of the domestics) and Magali, who sagely cautioned that money doesn’t make you happy, shortly after buying a string of pearls for her dog. Then there was Lauren, who summed up her life philosophy thus: ‘I’m a domestic goddess. I don’t listen to what anyone tells me, because it’s all about me.’ I don’t fancy yours much.


The Voice

So, The Voice is back, and the elephant in the room – the show’s stubborn failure to find a star, or even anyone you could pick out of a police line-up – looms ever larger. Newbie Rita Ora likened bagging her first protégé to having a baby (they’re lovely at that age, aren’t they?) while one of the acts used to be Bungle in Rainbow – though his impression sounded more like George, the pink hippo. Meanwhile, Sir Tom Jones maintains the air of a man who’s just here for a nice sit down.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, January 15, 2015

(c) Waitrose Weekend