The Last Days of Anne Boleyn


On BBC Breakfast, I introduced the new programme, which aired on 23 May at 9pm on BBC 2.

On 19 May 1536, Anne Boleyn was executed on charges of adultery, incest and conspiring King Henry VIII’s death. But what happened in those last days before her death? Why did Anne, and the five men accused with her, have to die?

An  in-depth drama-documentary on BBC 2 explored the continuing controversy among historians. Rather wonderfully, rather than giving a single linear account, it recreated the historical debate that rages on: it featured seven historians and historical novelists: Dr David Starkey, Hilary Mantel, Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Prof. George Bernard, Prof. Greg Walker and me. It made for history at its most contentious and exciting.

For anyone interested in Tudor history and in the extraordinary character of Anne Boleyn, this was unmissable.

It aired on 23 May 2013 at 9pm on BBC 2.


Daily Telegraph: The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, BBC Two, Review, Terry Ramsey, 26 May 2013

…  the programme did a wonderful job of opening up the story and the debate, thanks to a brilliantly lively line-up of writers and historians, from the typically forthright David Starkey to the fascinating and lucid Suzannah Lipscomb, by way of the incredibly well-informed double-Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, and others.”

The Guardian, The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, Sam Wollaston, 24 May 2013

“Fight fight fight fight fight. Who’s fighting? Suzannah Lipscomb, Hilary Mantel, Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, David Starkey and more. A whole bunch of heavyweight historians and writers. What are they fighting about? The Last Days of Anne Boleyn (BBC2), and some of the details thereof.

… Then Dr Lipscomb says the chaplain wasn’t necessarily Anne’s mouthpiece. And she – Lipscomb – isn’t just a 16th-century expert, she even looks like a Tudor. If she’d been in Henry’s court, he surely would have bombarded her with love letters too, and then she’d also have probably ended up headless, which would have been a shame.”

The Anne Boleyn Files: The Last Days of Anne Boleyn – A Review and Rundown, 24 May 2013

“Suzannah Lipscomb concluded that with Anne’s fall “there’s just enough evidence to keep historians guessing but just enough gaps to make sure they can never finally get to the solution.”