9:30pm – Monday, April 16 on ABC2
Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is forced to surrender Boulogne, his great prize, as part of a peace treaty with France. But where in the past he might have felt anger, his feelings now turn melancholic with the news that King Francis, his long time friend and sometimes foe, is dying.
There is a slow, quiet and nonetheless inevitable shifting of allegiances as Henry’s own health begins to fade. Factions are forming at Court as thoughts turn towards a successor. Some see Prince Edward (Eoin Murtagh), Henry’s son by Anne Seymour, as his natural heir, while others, notably Bishop Gardiner (Simon Ward), are determined to restore a Catholic to the throne in the person of Princess Mary (Sarah Bolger).
Under orders of Gardiner, an arrest warrant for Queen Catherine (Joely Richardson) is issued on grounds of heresy. However, when Risley (Frank McClusker) and his men (who believe they are carrying out the King’s orders) come to arrest the Queen, they are brutally rebuffed by Henry in a complex psychological game that leaves everyone uncertain of his allegiances and beliefs.
Realising his death is imminent, Henry retreats more and more into himself. He sends Queen Catherine and his beloved daughters Elizabeth (Laoise Murray) and Mary away from Whitehall Palace. Alone, Henry VIII prepares for the end of his magnificent, momentous monarchy.