HENRY ROCKS! He Abused His Power and Executed Two Wives - So Why Is He Still Our Most Celebrated Monarch? OntheBox C ROWNI NG GLORY

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THE TUDORS Saturday 9.45pm BBC2 HISTORY gets raunchy in The Tudors and the sex factor continues as the final series begins tonight. TV reporter Marion McMullen finds why the right royal tale has become an international hit.

ASK any schoolchild "Who is the most famous King of England?" and the answer will come back without hesitation - Henry VIII.

More than 500 years after he occupied the throne, this monarch is still so celebrated because his reign was simply bursting with incident.

His life story possesses an inherent drama and reads exactly like a movie script.

And that is why he has been the perfect central character for BBC Two's The Tudors.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers holds court as Henry VIII and is back to wed wife number six in the last series of The Tudors.

The star of movies such as Mission: Impossible III, Match Point, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Vanity Fair and Bend It Like Beckham has no doubt about Henry's appeal.

"Everything revolved around the King. Was Henry like a rock star? Of course Henry was like a rock star.

"We put rock stars and movie stars up there and treat them like gods, and that's the way Henry was treated. Wherever they are, that's where the party is." The Irish-born actor outlines the formidable qualities that made Henry such a fearsome monarch. Henry was a ferocious man, who could make even the most courageous quake. "You don't cross the king, because even if he doesn't want to punish you, he has to because you made him look a fool and a King cannot look a fool," says Jonathan. "Henry realised that even if you really loved somebody, including your own sister, and they try to hurt you, well, you have to cut their heads off. They have to be gone, they have to be banished, even if it breaks your heart to do it. "Even when he executes Thomas More, even when he executes Anne Boleyn or Katherine, he knows he is obliged to do it. Sometimes you have to kill the thing you love, for your own survival."

The 33-year-old says royals are still Jonathan revels in his role as fearsome king viewed as somehow special: "Look at Princ Harry. I'm alwa about Prince Ha getting drunk, h kissing girls, he falling out of nightclubs at five o'clock in the morning. Well, so "He's doing the same thing as every 22 or 23-year-old out there is doing. But he can't, because he's not a normal human being, he's a demi-god because he's a royal. "That's these days, s you can imagine what was like 500 years ago were king and told pea the field that you walk they'd believe you. "That's a lot of power to have, but it does restrict you. It's like putting all this energy in a little ball, and sometimes that little ball is going to bounce very hard against something.

And Henry does, he bounces very hard against Anne Boleyn." Henry VIII is clearly a wonderful part for any actor to tackle. All the same, Jonathan admits that he was initially daunted by the prospect of taking on such an iconic role. "When I first got asked to do Henry, my immediate reaction was, 'well, I don't look like Henry VIII., so is that a problem?'," recalls the actor, who was the lead in the BBC's memorable adaptation of Gormenghast. "People saw him as this big robust giant, this leg-of-lamb-eating, beer-swigging guy. I think if they wanted to accurately cast it, they could have cast a six-foot guy with long blonde hair and he would have looked more like Henry. "But I'm pleased to say that the producers wanted to work with me in particular. They saw something in me that they liked for their Henry. "They wanted a fresh, outhful impetuousness to is Henry that makes him he things he does. They ght I could create hing quite different. enry is not Keith or Richard Burton's or ne's. It's mine."

t's difficult playing Henry - I won't say it isn't. …