IT MAKES my heart die to think I cannot always be in your company … Yours as long as life endures, Katherine.”

So wrote Queen Katherine Howard to her lover, Thomas Culpepper. This is the only surviving missive of the young queen, Henry VIII’s fifth wife – the second spouse he’d send to the scaffold. (The immortal Anne Boleyn, whose charms sparked The Reformation, was the first.)

Poor little Katherine, the teenage bride of the bloated and dissipated Henry – she sought other pleasures, perhaps to ensure a pregnancy. By this point, the King’s virility was somewhat compromised.

Now, if you’re watching Showtime’s “The Tudors,” you’ll find Katherine, played by Tamzin Merchant, as a delicious nitwit, and Henry, in the person of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, still pretty hot. They’ve grayed his hair a bit, and he’s not taking his clothes off as much as in previous seasons, but Jonathan is still a royal looker – not at all resembling the heavy Henry of history. (Jonathan works hard at acting older, and he is successfully weary – two divorces, two beheadings and defying the pope takes a lot out of a guy.)

This is the final season of “The Tudors.” I believe it will go right up and through Henry’s final marriage to Catherine Parr, perhaps even to the King’s death. It has been a splendid four seasons, brilliantly acted and magnificently produced, with all the cruel gore and ravishing pageantry of the era. Emmy has basically ignored it. Let’s send them to the block!

I do wish Showtime would continue “The Tudors.” The reign of Henry’s daughter, Mary (“Bloody Mary” to her wary subjects), was fairly brief and not very sexy but full of Catholic vs. Protestant religious fervor. Mary had almost 300 people burned alive. She was Catholic, and felt quite sure she was on the side of the angels. Perhaps St. Peter disabused her of that notion, when her time came?

And then, of course, there is Elizabeth Regina, the greatest queen in history, the brilliant product of Henry’s union with Anne Boleyn. Like Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” this is one role that never palls and never ceases its fascinating pull on the imagination. I’ve enjoyed every incarnation of QE1. Every actress brings something new and exciting, especially Helen Mirren in her award-winning turn several years ago.

Although, truthfully, you can’t top Bette Davis in tight close-up, declaring, “Arrest my Lord of Essex. Take him to the Tower!” Or mournfully musing, “To be queen is to be less than human … a queen has no hour for love. Time presses and events crowd upon her.”

“The Tudors” could probably live for many more seasons. Think about it, Showtime!


THE NEW “Sex and the City” feature film is about to open, and likely it will be as successful as the first. But how long can this go on?

Glad you asked. I’ve heard that HBO is thinking about bringing “Sex and …” back to the small screen with a few younger characters added to the mix: “Sarah Jessica Parker is interested in a ‘Twilight’-type cast of newbies to mix it up with the more mature gals.”

Hmm … really? For one thing, I don’t think any of the women – Parker, Kim CattrallCynthia Nixon or Kristin Davis – want to commit themselves to a series again. Also, the core audience loves the set-up just as it is. The four heroines are older, sure. But they weren’t dewy when the series began; that’s a great part of the appeal.

Of course, anything is possible, but I doubt a new “Sex and the City” series would have anything like the original’s impact.