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Henry VIII will be skipped over in a new BBC history programme chronicling Britain over 1,500 years. due to complaints the 16th century monarch was ‘a horrible person’.
The eight-part series, called Art That Made Us, intends to explore turbulent periods of British history through the lens of art, literature, music and design but Henry VIII – despite heading up the bloody English Reformation of 1534 – will not get a look in, according to The Telegraph.
BBC producers invited Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist, to discuss a painting of Henry VIII, called Field of the Cloth of Gold, depicting an ostentatious summit between the English monarch and Francis I of France in 1520.
However, Mr Deller refused the invitation to speak about the painting and the English monarch it depicts, condemning Henry VIII as ‘one of the greatest a**holes in British culture’.
‘I despise him’, said Mr Deller.
Excluded: Henry VIII, whose reign lasted from 1509 until his death in 1547, forced through the bloody English Reformation and plundered monasteries – leading to his exclusion from a new BBC Two series purporting to chronicle 1,500 years of British history, after a contributor to the show said the monarch was ‘horrible’ and an ‘a**hole’
The British rapper Stormzy and his 2019 Glastonbury performance will be discussed in the final episode of the eight-part history series, covering Britain from 400AD to today
‘He’s an iconoclast fundamentalist, just a horrible, horrible person.’
The dissolution of the monastic system under Henry VIII, a property grab that saw monks, nuns and friars turfed out of monasteries with all of their wealth being funnelled to the Crown, was a principal reason given by Mr Deller for his loathing of the historical figure.
According to the producer of the BBC Two series, Russell Barnes, the team ‘gave up on Henry VIII’ after receiving Mr Deller’s flat-out refusal.
Mr Barnes said: ‘We thought maybe Field of the Cloth of Gold would be a really interesting picture to look at, but we just couldn’t find an artist who really wanted to engage with that.’
Mr Deller will instead appear on the series to discuss the work of William Morris, the influential British textile designer of the Victorian era.
Producers of Art That Made Us – an eight-part series about era-defining art, literature, music and design – had trouble finding someone to talk about Field of The Cloth of Gold (pictured), a depiction of an ostentatious meeting between Henry VIII and King Francis I of France in 1520. Pictured: the English monarch sits on a white horse in the centre, wearing an outfit woven with silk and gold thread
Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist, refused to talk about Henry VIII or Field of The Cloth of Gold, saying the 16th century monarch was ‘one of the greatest a**holes in British culture’
Speaking about Morris’ wallpaper designs, Mr Deller said: ‘These are the great landscape artworks of the 19th century – it’s not Turner and Constable, it’s these, which were then replicated throughout people’s homes and throughout the world.’
BBC Two’s new series Art That Made Us will start in the 5th century, looking at an Anglo-Saxon figurine, the Lindisfarne Gospels and Beowulf.
The final instalment of the eight-series show will cover from 1958 to the present day, during which everything from Irvine Welsh’s film Trainspotting to Stormzy’s 2019 performance at Glastonbury are highlighted for discussion.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – the first of JK Rowling’s seven books about Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – is dissected by commentators, who claim the books offer a ‘clearly conservative’ defence of ‘elite boarding schools’.
Henry VIII dissolved Britain’s monastic system, an unwelcome reminder of the Roman Catholic Church after England’s break from the Pope, seizing the wealth and land the monasteries had acquired and executing the 200 abbots and religious house leaders who resisted the expropriation
Other authors featured in the series include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Austen.
Comedians who often appear on BBC shows – such as Stewart Lee and Rachel Parris – have also been chosen to feature as contributors on the show, speaking about historical works of their choosing.
Art That Made Us will debut on April 7, and it will screen alongside a nationwide event of the same name involving exhibitions in museums, libraries, archives and galleries.