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Seven Ages Of Britain -

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Good evening, Virginia Haussegger

with an ABC News update. A with an ABC News update. A tense

standoff at Sydney's Villawood

detention centre is now into its

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protester has come down from the roof

late today. Eight protesters remain

on the roof. Some of the men have

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sparked by the suicide of a Fijian detainee yesterday. Australia's commitment to its commitment to its soldiers in

Afghanistan has been questioned by

those on the frontline. In an

those on the frontline. In an email

to the media a soldier refers to a

recent battle in which his mate died

ammunition and others were left short of

ammunition as they fought for their

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the Government have strenuously

rejected the allegations. There are

doubts tonight the Commonwealth

in New Delhi will go ahead. Only doubts tonight the Commonwealth Games

before teams arrive the athletes' in New Delhi will go ahead. Only days

village is still not ready. Tigers

have been filmed living have been filmed living at altitudes

never thought possible, in the

foothills of the Himalayas. Not just


one tiger, but a

one tiger, but a breeding pair were

filmed. Naturalists are now trying

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Canberra's weather - a fine day with work out why they climbed so high. To

a high of 18 and a low of six.

- 20. Melbourne - 17. Adelaide - 18. a high of 18 and a low of six. Sydney

More news in an hour. More news in

history capture the imagination DAVID DIMBLEBY: Few periods in our like the age of the Tudors. and exploration, It was a time of adventure of valour and glory. once the home of Sir Francis Drake, This is Buckland Abbey in Devon, and some would say pirate, the great explorer who circumnavigated the globe, against the Spanish Armada who defended England great warrior hero. and who was Queen Elizabeth's And Drake's drum, he carried on his voyages. said to be one of those on the front, It has his coat of arms the red dragon and a golden ship. as he lay dying, And legend has it that he pledged this drum to the nation, we were in peril, saying that if ever and he would return to our rescue. all we had to do was sound it Whether the legend is true or not, this is one of a number of objects seem like a golden age, that have made the Tudor age all the time. and the reputation has grown deliberately cultivated It was an image that was and artist. by an alliance of monarch what they were creating Under the Tudors, was an image of power and of glory. power and glory in heaven, And not, as before, on Earth. but power and glory here and now BIG BEN CHIMES King of England In 1509, a young prince was crowned here in the heart of London. king of a new royal dynasty, Henry VIII was the second crowned the Tudors. we all have of Henry VIII You have to forget the image and a wife killer, a spoilt king, as a fat, bloated tyrant

debonair 17-year-old and think instead of a handsome, an intelligent young man. coming to the throne, That was the Henry who inherited. a full Treasury, And he inherited from his father which was to his advantage, that his nation, because he was determined to show a sideshow in Europe, which had for so long been as any of them. was as rich and powerful Henry realised that he could use art about royal power, to make a bold statement and he showed how it could be done commissioned here at Westminster. in the first great work he to commemorate his parents This is the tomb Henry built shortly after he came to the throne. to commemorate what's passed. Now, most tombs are designed to point the way to the future. This one was deliberately designed a new era of extravagance. With this tomb, Henry heralded in bronze and gold, The figures are sculpted resting on a base of Italian marble. and scenes from the Bible. All around the sides are cherubs It took four years to make, the most expensive tomb of the age in Westminster Abbey. and more sumptuous than any could do work as fine as this. No-one in England sculptor, Pietro Torrigiano, Henry had to commission an Italian few were willing to undertake. to come here from Rome, a journey and you arrived in this damp climate. Uncomfortable, long when he'd done it, Even Torrigiano himself, among those beasts of Englishmen. talked about his gallant feats Henry spent more money on palaces before or since. than any other monarch home of one of his chief advisers, Hampton Court was originally the Cardinal Wolsey. he took it for himself. Henry thought it so magnificent, as fortresses to protect the monarch, Most of our older palaces were built but with Henry it was different. He didn't fear any internal threat, to luxurious pleasures and so Hampton Court was dedicated and extravagant display. is rich in detail. The palace exterior showing the signs of the Zodiac. A complex astronomical clock made of terracotta brick, Elaborate chimneys age, medallions of Roman emperors. and harking back to another heroic Henry was very competitive, with his rivals abroad. obsessed with how he'd compare the Venetian ambassador There's a wonderful story told about of a meeting he had with the king. "Come, talk with me a while. The king said, is he as tall as I am?" "The King of France, there was little difference. I replied, "Is he as stout?" I said no. "What sort of legs has he?" the king opened his doublet, I said, "Spare," at which point "Look here, put his hand on his thigh and said, too!" "and I've a good calf to my leg, England and France were at war. During the early years of his reign, at the head of a great fleet. Then in 1520, Henry sailed to France This time he came not to fight with his great rival. but to make peace with a week-long celebration. The peace was celebrated anybody's ever arranged. It was the most glorious summit the Field of Cloth of Gold. It was called Henry came over from England to meet Francis I in splendour with 6,000 followers. And here in Hampton Court is the picture done for Henry to remind him of what that wonderful moment was like. Here's Henry on his horse, surrounded by all his courtiers. The marquees, the Field of Cloth of Gold shimmering there with Francis and Henry meeting under it. But they didn't just have a formal meeting and a chat. The whole series of events designed to make them almost blood brothers. For instance, they flirted with each other's wives. They agreed before the summit that they would both grow their beards as long as they could - they arrived with masculine, virile beards. They wrestled together, they jousted. And then in the centre, this magnificent palace which really... people had their eyes out on stalks when they saw it. They could not believe this place had been built. It had a brick foundation, but the whole thing was made of wood and canvas, like an astonishing stage set. And with real glass windows, which were particularly expensive and therefore particularly lavish. And of course, the whole thing was lavish beyond belief. Outside, this fountain which flowed not with water but with wine. And following an old English tradition, of course, we drank too much, and a scene here, vomiting in the street and brawling. There was one other little touch the English had. Before Mass was said, they flew through the sky a dragon firework 24 feet long, breathing fire, and there it is up at the top left-hand corner. They hadn't been warned about this. Some people thought it was a comet and disaster was going to follow, but it was just typical English exuberance. Let the fireworks fly! Henry's foreign policy depended on expanding his navy. The scale of his ambition can be seen in the Pepys Library in Cambridge. This is really thrilling. This is the most beautiful book. It's a quite extraordinary record of the Royal Navy as it was founded by Henry VIII. And this book was drawn up by the man in charge of guns and of ammunition, Anthony Anthony. And he listed every ship in the Royal Navy, from the very smallest at the back, these ones with oars as well as sails. And under each ship, the list of all the guns that were on board, the bows and arrows that were on board, the men who crewed the ship. And as you go forwards, the ships get bigger and bigger until you reach the large fighting ships that Henry built here. And finally, at the front here... ..this magnificent painting, the Mary Rose. This was the first flagship of Henry's fleet. 400 men. 91 guns. Meticulously listed. And it was these ships that showed that England was determined to take mastery of the seas. The Mary Rose saw 35 years of active service. The peace with France hadn't lasted, and the Mary Rose was sunk in the Solent off the Isle of Wight, resisting a French invasion. Most of her 600 crew were drowned. Miraculously, in the 1960s, divers discovered the hulk of the Mary Rose lying on its side in the mud at the bottom of the Solent. They built a cradle and decided to lift it, and I remember... I think I had a flu or something, I watched television all day long, as nothing happened. It was like watching paint dry. All our divers are clear, so I think that's a fairly firm indication that lift-off is about to take place. 'And then of course one's absolutely gripped, and it came up,' and I remember the first three timbers appearing above the water. The timber is in superb condition. Indeed it is, the oak particularly. 'Until there was a terrible dramatic moment' when it slipped in the cradle. LOUD CRACKING And it looked for a moment as though the whole enterprise would be over. What's happened there? There was a tremendous cracking noise. Yes, as though something has given there. 'Eventually, the ship was brought back to shore. 'Work to preserve her has been going on ever since.' After years spent washing out the salt, wax is now being injected into the wood to stabilise it. It's a toxic environment, so everyone has to wear protective clothing to enter the chamber. It's a very...messy-looking job. What are you actually doing to it? This is the wax that we use to preserve the ship. So are you mixing it up with...? Yeah, I'm putting it onto the barge deck, where it mixes with water, then dissolves and goes through into the tank and round the system, through the filter and sprayed onto the ship. So it becomes part of the atmosphere. Exactly. And then the ship will be preserved. It's like a kind of ghost ship to work on. It can be quite sort of eerie some days. Just the history of the ship and so many people that actually lost their lives on there. And sometimes, you know, you look at that ship and remember exactly what happened in the Solent on that day. 19,000 objects were found from the Mary Rose and are preserved. This is just a small part of the collection. Pots up there on the shelf... Cannons there. And in these drawers, I'll just have a look at one of them. This is probably... I just have to put gloves on to protect the stuff. This is probably the best collection of just ordinary, everyday objects from Tudor Britain. These are things that, you know, people on board a ship used, people would have used in their homes. I mean, look at this, for example, look. A lovely pair of shoes. Nice thick leather, the stitches are still intact. There's a slit rather curiously across the top of the left toe, as though the owner had a bunion or something and was trying to ease the pressure. And funny little manicure things. This is a nit comb on one side. Yeah, they had nits, too. A nit comb and an ordinary comb. You can imagine them all in the dark on that boat sort of doing each other's hair to get the nits out... Yeuch! There's a boatswain's whistle for attracting attention, because if you're in a ship, the gale's blowing, the canvas is flapping, the ropes are... You can't shout all time, so you have a whistle. WHISTLES THREE TONES You can hear it against the wind. WHISTLES And this, I think, is probably the most gruesome of all the exhibits. This is a urethral syringe. Block your ears if you...are squeamish. This was used for sailors who'd gone ashore and picked up sexual diseases. And this long tube here was inserted into the male member, and mercury plunged down inside them. Well, certainly if you had too much of it, the mercury would kill you. I suspect the thought of having... ouch...that inside you would... deter you in the first place. Probably stay on board. By the 1530s, Henry VIII had proved England's mastery in war and at sea. But now he risked it all for even greater power. For almost 1,000 years, the Church, ruled from Rome, had rivalled the English crown in money and influence. Now Henry wanted a divorce from his wife, but the Pope said no. Henry denounced the Catholic Church and the Pope himself. In the years that followed, all art which reflected the Catholic Church would be destroyed. Catholic monasteries and abbeys were plundered for their treasure and left in ruins. This picture, commissioned by Henry and hung in his palace, shows Christ's disciples stoning the Pope, who tries in vain to protect his wealth. Henry was now free to create a Church of England in which he would have the last word. If you'd come to the church of Tivetshall St Margaret's 500 years ago, like thousands of English churches, it would have been full of colour. Paintings on the walls, probably statues, the whiff of incense, the services in Latin. It was the closest, for country people, that they came to art and artistic expression of their religion. What a devastating effect Henry had. His legacy was that all the paintings were taken away, the statues were removed and the walls instead were just simply painted in whitewash. The worshippers, instead of facing the image of Christ on the cross or the Day of Judgement, faced the image of monarchy. This royal coat-of-arms, painted during the reign of Henry's daughter Elizabeth, celebrates the power and authority of the Tudor dynasty over the Church. Henry might have established his own Church, but he still had to win over his people.

To break the spell of the Catholic Church, Henry turned to the new magic of printing. He printed for the first time the complete Bible in English. I used to be in the printing business, and this still gives me a real thrill. This it was done in the old days, but the principle's still the same. Ah! The smell of the ink and the first sight of the printed page, beautifully printed. Two printers working this machine produced a page every 15 seconds, which I find hard to believe, it must have been tough going. But in no time he had 8,000 copies of the Bible in English printed, one for every parish in his kingdom. I mean, it's difficult to grasp. It seems commonplace to us, but this revolutionary breakthrough in knowledge, in letting people see religion for themselves and, above all, the king being in a position to control what they saw. It was an astonishing achievement. For the first time, every parish in the land had a complete version of the Bible in a language they could understand.

This is the Great Bible, as it's called, Henry's Bible. And the title page at the very heart of it has Henry, sitting there in majesty, handing his Bible to the bishops. They in turn hand it down to the priests, and the priests hand it down to the people here at the bottom, who are all shouting out, "Vivat rex! Long live the King!" And where's God in all this? There He is at the very, very top. Crammed in just under the border is God. Mmm. This is Henry's Bible. Henry's rejection of the Catholic Church changed British art. It was now free to focus not on God and the heavens, but the material world and its people. One person who found this particularly appealing was one of the great painters of the age, a German, Hans Holbein. He came here because this was a place where he would be appreciated not for painting religious paintings but in demand for what he really liked, which was painting power.

In a series of striking portraits, Holbein captured the likeness of the great power-brokers of the court. Among them, Henry's chief ministers... ..and his wives. This is one of Holbein's finest paintings. It shows French ambassadors at the court of Henry VIII. And it was commissioned by this ambassador here, a young man of 29, even though he looks as though he's in his 40s, and his fellow ambassador, who's 27. And they chose Holbein because Holbein would paint them like this, and this is a perfect example of the change in painting. Instead of religious painting, rather severe, symbolic, here we have a painter relishing all the practical, material details. The painting of the clothes, for instance. Beautifully, obsessively painted. That fur looks so light on the coat. This sumptuous gown which you can almost feel. And the details in the middle are designed to say, "This is the new world, this is the world of intellectual ferment, "this is the world of science, of discovery, of change. "This isn't the world where we're obsessed with a narrow religion." Religion itself is consigned to one tiny object right up in the top left-hand corner, a crucifix half obscured by the curtain. As though all of this poses a slight possible danger to religious belief. Now, the oddest of all the things in the picture, though, is a little device that makes absolutely no sense when you stand in front of the picture, here, and it's there at the bottom. A kind of white/grey streak. But absolutely makes sense, and it's a sort of joke, when you come round here. You have to stand right here at the far corner and look down, and that strange streak turns into a human skull. Death. Despite all this grandeur, death awaits us all. Holbein's vigorous, worldly style won the attention of the king, who recognised a man after his own heart. In 1536, Henry asked Holbein to create an image of royal power that could be copied and sent throughout the country for all his subjects to see. Trinity College in Cambridge was founded by Henry, so it's not surprising that pride of place in the hall is a copy of the Holbein portrait of him. He looks like a Tudor nightclub bouncer standing in that pose, so the first message of it is, "I'm here, I'm in charge, "don't you dare disagree with me." But then there are other ways of putting across this idea of the power of the king. The clothes themselves - the furs, the silk, the brocade. Silk was actually confined to the aristocracy. The lower orders weren't actually allowed, by law, to wear silk. And then there's the painting of the legs. Henry, proud of his legs, shows off his calves to great effect. And finally, of course, the face. If you look closely at the face... ..very severe, rather frightening. Are you here at Trinity? Yeah. Are you? How long have you been here? Two years. Are you at Trinity, too? Yeah. So what do you think of the portrait of the king? It's obviously an extremely impressive picture. When I enter the hall, it's the first thing that strikes me. Sitting under that portrait might put you off your food. Yeah, some might say. But I don't know, I think it's a good image, a good memoir of representing where Trinity's come from and its history. Obviously Henry VIII was very brash and brazen. What do you think about the codpiece on him? Um...yeah, it's... It's a bit ridiculous, isn't it? I'd agree. I think so. I think it's quite a chauvinistic sign, which would be in tune with the fact that he had six wives. With the broad shoulders, it goes very well with a dagger he's wearing. It's all very strong and virile. He's not someone you'd like to meet in a dark alley at night, is he? Definitely not, not someone that size. LAUGHTER Holbein's genius decided Henry's image for the rest of his reign. The unassailable power of the crown was fixed in people's minds, even as Henry himself fell into decline. This is one of Henry's last suits of armour, a magnificent piece. Burnished steel etched with gold, the exaggerated codpiece there, rather like the Holbein suggesting power and majesty. Designed for hand-to-hand fighting with a poleaxe... ..that sort of thing. But I rather doubt that the man wearing this would have been capable of that, because by the time this suit of armour was made he'd already become very, very fat, huge round the waist, vast bottom, and he was weak, too. He couldn't actually carry this suit of armour without having a special corset fitted inside from which it hung. And the leg had to be padded out because he had a terrible ulcerating wound in his leg. So what you have here is an outer shell of a man who'd once been a handsome young prince, and now was crumbling, decaying. A man who was a shadow of his former self. Henry died in 1547 at the age of 55. It was 11 years before a ruler came to the throne who could build on Henry's vision. Henry's daughter Elizabeth had spent her childhood here at Hatfield. Like her father she was obsessed with the image of royal power, but her way of projecting it was very different. Henry ruled by brute force. Elizabeth was far more subtle. She had a very intelligent, clever way of dealing with the problem all rulers face, how to project an image that will be accepted by their people, how to tell a story about themselves that can be understood. And Elizabeth did it by presenting herself as the Virgin Queen, that wonderful image, probably the most powerful image of any British monarch ever. And here she is, the Virgin Queen, in a famous portrait which is called the Rainbow Portrait. At first glance, you just see the Queen in all her magnificence, encrusted with jewels, her face made up white with scarlet lips and the fine eyebrows. But when you look closer, like all Elizabethan things there's a kind of riddle to it, a sort of story behind the story. For instance, the rainbow. She's holding the rainbow, which is a symbol of peace, in her right hand. And the words above, the only words on the portrait, "Non sine sole iris," no rainbow without the sun. And the sun, of course, is Elizabeth herself. So no peace without Elizabeth, message number one. Then pearls everywhere, which symbolise purity. Earrings, round her neck. And then it gets even more subtle here. On her sleeve, this wonderfully encrusted serpent or snake with an orb above and a little heart-shaped ruby below. The serpent represents wisdom. It could be her emotions, her heart being controlled by wisdom. But the most extraordinary bit of this portrait is something you don't really notice until you look quite closely, which is that this golden robe has on it painted ears and eyes. This is rather less subtle, I think, but what it's saying is that as Queen, I have eyes and ears everywhere. In other words, my servants, the people who are loyal to me, are watching and listening, and nothing you do will not be noticed. Watch out, this is a woman with real power. What Elizabeth knew was that you could exert power as effectively through seduction as through fear. Under her patronage, the brilliant Nicholas Hilliard, a young man from Devon, became the greatest painter of one of the most delicate art forms, the miniature. These paintings weren't for public display. They were intimate pictures to be treasured in private. And this is the man who did it all. This is Hilliard himself, a self portrait. It's tiny, but when you look closely you can see in his eyes a lively, mischievous view of the world. He himself said that he wanted to capture in his painting these lovely graces, these witty smilings, these stolen glances which, like lightning, pass. Now this... It's just thrilling even to hold this in your hand. This is probably the most powerful image of the Elizabethan era. This is Hilliard's famous painting of Young Man Among Roses. And he has his hand on his heart, looking with almost cow-eyed devotion, out towards the Queen. What a wonderful explanation almost, of the nature of romantic love. And this is the famous Drake Jewel. I hardly dare hold this in my hand. It's priceless. Given to the explorer, Francis Drake, by Queen Elizabeth herself. Pearls hanging from it here Rubies and diamonds all around. Absolutely exquisite. But the great treasure of this is when you turn it over... You open it up. Inside is this miniature of Queen Elizabeth herself. For Drake's eyes only, with a little phoenix below. Perfect portrait. Almost secret, in the back of the locket. There's no margin for mistake. If you have a wrong stroke, if you make one little point in the wrong place, everyone's aware of it. You can't really go wrong anywhere and you can't correct a mistake. How long would it take for a portrait? Oh gosh, it depends on whether it's a good day or a bad day, really. LAUGHING It would be up to 12 very, very, intense hours. Hilliard wouldn't have painted somebody like me, would he? He didn't paint... He painted beautiful youths, and... Well... ..and princesses and... Queen Elizabeth. But she was made to look like a young girl. When she was 60 she was being painted as though she was 20. Yes, of course. That was part of her image, wasn't it? The Virgin Queen. Yes. But did he do portraits of real people or was it always the court that he painted? Erm, generally he tended to be quite courtly. What did he paint on? He painted on parchment. Is this parchment? It is, yes. What's it made from? That would be made from sheep. Very fine and smooth with very few coarse hairs. It's a lovely surface. It's beautiful to work on. Smooth one side, rougher on the other. Presumably you paint on the smooth side? Yes, that's right. Very good. Could you turn very slightly... Yes. Like that? Yes, that's good. So, how's it doing? Is it done? I'm just putting the final sheen... Then can I have a look? And I would say it's done. HE HUMS PENSIVELY At this point you can sack the painter. Oh my goodness! Very young, I'd say. Do you think so? Hmm. Oh, I thought I'd got a sense of, um... Old age? No, a sense of experience and life. Wisdom? And wisdom, yes, yes. I think wisdom. And now you've got the eyes with a great, like, shining light. What's that done with? That was your piercing look. That's great! That little point. I go for the piercing look. Good. I tell you what, I've got a slightly... My father used to have this too, as though there's a slightly bad smell under his nose. You know, a sort of sniffing. SHE LAUGHS The devotion Elizabeth inspired led her courtiers on intrepid journeys of exploration to the four corners of the Earth. Look, there's a seal over there. SEAL BARKING I've been messing about on boats on the River Dart for years and I love it because it's very beautiful but it's also powerfully romantic. Because from this river, in the 16th century, a new breed of Englishmen seemed to emerge. Fearless sailors who crossed great oceans and particularly went to America. The New World offered excitement and glory to those brave enough to cross the open seas. One who confronted its perils was an artist called John White. He sailed on the expeditions of Sir Walter Raleigh, to the territory of Virginia. Named after Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. White's job was to paint the things they found. The extraordinary and exotic animals. Best of all, White captured the world of the Native Americans. With these pictures, Elizabeth could see at first hand the territories and the peoples she'd conquered. The most daring voyage of the age was Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the Earth. He set off in 1577 and returned, triumphant, almost four years later. The map maker, Emery Molyneux, sailed in one of Drake's ships and when he came back, he made these two wonderful globes. The construction of them alone is quite extraordinary. There's a wooden pole through the centre, which holds the thing in shape, roughly, but the globe itself is made of layer upon layer of paper and then a thin layer of plaster put on the top, and then the map itself printed in sort of slices, like the slices of an orange, and stretched over it. And this is the result. These two magnificent globes. One of the heavens, one of the Earth. The heavens, showing all the constellations, with their names, the Great Bear, the Little Bear, all of that. And interestingly, because for the first time Drake had circumnavigated the globe, there's the consolation called the Southern Cross. Right down here at the bottom, with its five stars in the shape of a cross that you can only see in the southern oceans. But what's really perhaps even more fascinating is this one of the Earth, as they knew it at the time. The excitement of doing this must have been quite extraordinary, because you see here new bits of the world appearing on this map, and still other bits completely untouched. There's no Australia, for instance. But beautifully, accurately, marked. I barely dare touch it. It traces Drake's journey from England, out across the North Atlantic, down into the South Atlantic, there's the route of course over to Virginia and to the Americas... round, down into the South Atlantic and, if I can find it right down here, Cape Horn, at the very bottom of South America. And the line showing where Drake sailed along the western seaboard of the Americas. But the other interesting thing about this is that these two globes were presented to Queen Elizabeth by Molyneux and before they were presented, here, bang in the middle of America, is the royal coat of arms and a great inscription stamped on America, as though saying to Queen Elizabeth, "All this territory is yours if you want it. "The New World is there for the taking." The riches brought home by fearless explorers in the 16th century were beyond the wildest dreams even of Elizabeth's court. In 1912, some workmen were demolishing a building in Cheapside in the City of London. They unearthed an old box. They opened it. And what they discovered was absolutely astonishing. This treasure trove. The Cheapside Hoard. It's the largest collection of jewellery of this period anywhere in the world and it is absolutely astonishing. It's worth millions and millions of pounds. You need to look closely to see what there is. This crystal cup with a lovely engraved silver-gilt handle and top and bottom to it. These pieces of agate. At the centre here, absolutely astonishing piece of work. An enormous emerald which has been sliced and when it's opened, there's a little clock inside. But what's really exciting here are the small things. The most beautifully, exquisitely made jewels. This cross here. This, which is a little - I can't touch them - but this which is a little scent pot with opals in a fern shape all the way round, with diamonds and white enamel. This early Christian amethyst, of two...thought to be two saints' figures. I think one or two I could just pick up. This one, for instance. A finely-cut diamond from India, with white enamel settings. Right the way around there are little dots on the enamel. It was such a breathtaking find. The magic of this collection is what it tells us about the reach of the Elizabethan era. Rubies and diamonds from India on the one hand, to emeralds from Colombia on the other. All brought here to London to glamorise and glorify the Elizabethan court. The Armada Portrait shows Elizabeth decked out in a dazzling array of jewels and fine clothes. Her hand rests confidently on the globe, fingers touching the Americas. But while exploration brought wealth, it also brought new enemies. Behind Elizabeth, the Spanish Armada fleet gathers in the summer of 1588. Its mission - to defeat England and overthrow the Queen. To the right, the Spanish fleet founders in stormy English waters. This is not just a painting of royal power. It's a rousing patriotic image to inspire the nation. The defeat of the Armada quickly became the stuff of myth. There was of course the myth that Francis Drake was so cool, when he was told the Spanish were coming up the Channel, he said, "I'll finish my game of bowls before I go and attack them." There was the myth that it was puny England against the might of Spain, when in reality, we outgunned and outmanoeuvred the Spanish. But the biggest myth of all was that it was all God's doing. That the storms were provided by God to help England. Elizabeth even had a medal made. "God blew," it said on it, "and they were scattered." Perhaps the English could be forgiven for beginning to think they were God's chosen people. And if any doubt was left, England's most persuasive myth-maker was about to emerge. He wasn't a painter, but a poet. His name - William Shakespeare. At the heart of Shakespeare's work are the history plays, which he began writing shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada. They're plays which describe the whole grandeur of British history in very vivid terms, with heroes and villains. Richard III - the evil hunchback. Killing the princes in the tower. And when he dies, shouting out, "A horse. A horse. My kingdom for a horse." And Henry V urging his troops on to battle against the French with a cry of, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Once more!" A picture so vibrant it still lives with us today. Shakespeare's plays span 350 years of British history, and come to a triumphant end with a celebration of the birth of Elizabeth herself. What Shakespeare was saying to his audience was, "Look, a new era has dawned. "A period of peace and prosperity, "brought to you by the Tudors, and you should enjoy it." In an earlier play, Richard II, he'd set out his vision of England. It was a myth then - it's a myth now. But the glorious language still sends a shiver down the spine. "This royal throne of kings, this sceptr'd isle, "This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, "This other Eden, demi-paradise, "This fortress built by Nature for herself "Against infection and the hand of war, "This happy breed of men, this little world, "This precious stone set in the silver sea, "Which serves it in the office of a wall "Or as a moat defensive to a house, "Against the envy of less happier lands, "This blessed plot, this earth, "this realm... "..this England."

In the next Age: The arrogance of a king. The people's defiance. Scientific invention... ..and monumental splendour. In the age of revolution.

This Program is Captioned Live.

Good evening, Leigh Sales with a

Lateline update the protest at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre

Centre is over. A group of asylum seekers spent last

seekers spent last night on

seekers spent last night on the roof

of one of the centre's buildings in

western sydney after a fijian

committed suicide yesterday. The group had been refusing food and water and

water and had demanded concessions

from immigration department

negotiators before coming down. The reserve bank has

reserve bank has delivered its bluntest warning yet, that interest

rates are likely to rise sooner

rather than later. The minutes from

the board meeting a fortnight ago

point to a strong economy, fuelled

point to a strong economy, fuelled by the resources boom and inflation press

pressures, as key reasons why monetary

monetary policy is likely to be

tightened. And Australia's

tightened. And Australia's commitment to its been questioned by those

to its soldiers in Afghanistan has been questioned by those on the

frontline. One soldier says troops

have been let down by the army. In

have been let down by the army. In an

email, he refers to a recent battle

in which his mate died and others were left

were left short of ammunition, as they

they fought for their lives. The

military's top brass and the

Government have strenuously rejected

the allegations. Our guest tonight

the allegations. Our guest tonight is the Independent Senator Nick

Xenophon. Hope to have your company

for Lateline CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Hello and welcome to QI where we hope finally to prove Oscar Wilde's theory that there are only two kinds of interesting people - those who know absolutely everything and those who know absolutely nothing. On tonight's program, we're lucky enough to have four kinds of people, only one of whom sadly fits into either category. Alan Davies. Phil Bailey. Linda Smith. And Richard E Grant. APPLAUSE Well, now, the rules are straightforward. I'm omnipotent, omniscient and I have a low boredom threshold. You are quite interesting or there'll be trouble. If all else fails, each of you is able at least to make an interesting noise. Richard goes - TRUMPET FANFARE LAUGHTER Linda goes - HARP STRUM Phil goes - DYING BAGPIPE NOTE LAUGHTER Alan goes - BRAYING DONKEY LAUGHTER And I go, "Let's go." So, fingers on buzzers, please, for our first round which is on arts and entertainment and this question. Why don't pigeons like going to the movies? BAGPIPE Yes, Bill? Well, I don't know. Pigeons, they don't go to the movies, cos nothing much is made with them in mind. Really, I don't... LAUGHTER Pigeons are much more into sort of German expressionism. LAUGHTER How long does a pigeon live? What's the lifespan of a pigeon? Mmm! You've got me there. Nine, ten years? They live a fair amount of time. They can only go see a 'U' film, anyway. That's true. That's very true. APPLAUSE But birds don't fly at night, do they? They do in some cities but generally can't see where they're going. Owls do. Owls do but they don't go to the pictures either. Yeah. If they do, they spend the whole time... Yeah, yeah. LAUGHTER So they can only go in the day... Yeah. a 'U' film... You're narrowing it down. TRUMPET FANFARE Richard. Because they're allergic to popcorn. Quite literally. Open air cinemas, like drive-ins, where I grew up, pigeons exploded from eating popcorn. LAUGHTER So it's... Becoming increasingly hard to verify. It is very hard to verify cos you grew up in Swaziland. Yeah. Pigeon country. Is it? Are there a lot of pigeons in Swaziland? A lot. Damn, that's so convincing. It's not true but I really like it. What would happen if a pigeon looked at a film? The eyes on the side of the head... They do like that. No. And the fact that... LAUGHTER No. It'll have to perch on the back of a chair like that and it couldn't see - it can't see anything straight ahead - so it'd have to keep looking from side to side. Not that. Pigeons have extraordinarily good eyes. ALAN: Do they? Yes. Homing pigeons. They can see their home from across the Channel? No, but they can see landmarks from high up. "Look, there's my house." No. Landmarks, they see very well indeed from high up. Like a lot of birds, of course, like birds of prey. They're reckoned to have eyesight at least ten times better than ours but not only that... Does that mean they'd prefer to see it on DVD? LAUGHTER With all the interviews... How does film work? Lots of pictures going really quickly. Really quickly to us. But to them, they're thinking, "Why is it going so slowly?" To them, it's a slide show. Is it? It's a slow slide show. They don't... We see 24, 25 frames a second as movement. They would need - it has been calculated and maybe it has even been demonstrated - they would need 250 frames a second. Ten times faster in order for it to be a coherent image that moved. So they would be bored stiff by slide shows. So they're sitting there watching The Matrix and they're thinking, "When is something gonna happen?" Exactly! LAUGHTER "What is this - a Merchant Ivory film, what's going on?"