Anne Boleyn’s life as new Channel 5 show airs – secret lover to brutal beheading

Anne Boleyn was the doomed Queen of England, sent to the chopping block by her own husband King Henry VIII.

And now a new three-part Channel 5 drama about tragic Anne Boleyn will star Jodie Turner-Smith, 34, as the first black actress to play the ill-fated Tudor royal on the box, while Paapa Essiedu, 30, portrays her brother George.

Anne, left, was one of two of Henry’s wives to be executed, along with Catherine Howard in 1542. But how much do you know about the real Anne?

Did she really have six fingers as the legend goes – and was the Queen actually guilty of romping with her own brother? Here Daily Star reveals all in the ultimate A-Z guide…

A is for… ACCUSED: In 1536, having failed to produce a male heir for angry husband Henry, Anne was accused of committing treason, adultery and even incest with her brother George.

B is for… BIRTH: Weirdly Anne has no official birth date. She was probably born at Blickling Hall, Norfolk, around 1501.

C is for… CELEBS: A host of stars have played her on screen, from Natalie Dormer, 39, in BBC series The Tudors, The Crown star Claire Foy, 37, in Wolf Hall and Natalie Portman, 39, in The Other Boleyn Girl.

D is for… DUCKIES: How Henry referred to Anne’s breasts in a love letter saying he was hoping to “kiss them soon”. In the early days he sent her a string of slushy notes with hearts around her initials.

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E is for… EXECUTION: Anne was beheaded at the Tower of ­London on May 19, 1536, by an ­expert French swordsman. As she went to the scaffold, she said: “I heard say the executioner was very good – and I have a little neck.”

F is for… FAMILY: She was the daughter of diplomat Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and Lady Elizabeth Howard – who the King is said to have bedded. Some said Anne was his own daughter.

G is for… GHOST: Her 'ghost' has been spotted everywhere from the Tower to Blickling to Hever Castle in Kent where she grew up.

H is for… HEIR: Henry began courting Anne, a maid to his first wife Catherine of Aragon, in 1526. Catherine and Henry had a daughter, Mary, who became Mary I.

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I is for… ILLNESS: In 1528 Anne narrowly avoided death from a flu-like sweating sickness, which killed her brother-in-law and members of the royal court.

J is for… JANE SEYMOUR: One of Anne’s ladies in waiting who caught Henry’s eye. He gave her a locket with his picture, which Anne angrily ripped from her neck, injuring her hand. After Anne was executed, Jane became Henry’s third wife just 11 days later.

K is for… KIDS: Anne and Henry did have a child, Elizabeth, in 1533, who would become Queen in 1558. But several miscarriages as they tried for a boy led Henry to decide he’d made a mistake.

L is for… LOOKS: There is only one poor likeness of Anne from the time, on a lead disc. Some say she had dark hair and was tall and slim.

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M is for… MARRIAGE: Anne refused to become Henry’s mistress and eventually wed him in January 1533. His marriage to Catherine was annulled soon after.

N is for… NULL & VOID: The wedding to Anne went ahead even though the Pope hadn’t allowed Henry to divorce Catherine.

O is for… OSTRICH: Her fashion tastes included ostrich feather fans and she spent lavishly on gowns and doing up palaces.

P is for… PERSONALITY: Anne was intelligent, witty and would argue with Henry. But she made lots of enemies at court.

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Q is for… QUEEN: Anne, already pregnant with Elizabeth, was crowned queen in Westminster Hall on June 1, 1533. She was unpopular with the public and attacked by angry crowds.

R is for… RUMPUS: Henry’s marriage to Anne led Henry to break from the Catholic Church and become head of the Church of England.

S is for… SISTER: Henry had an earlier affair with Anne’s older sister Mary.

T is for TRIAL: Henry’s fixer Thomas Cromwell had Anne arrested on May 2, 1536, then taken to the Tower. She was quickly found guilty on what were almost certainly trumped-up charges. These included plotting to murder the King. The 27-strong jury ­included her own uncle.

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U is for… UNTRUE: The claim Anne had six fingers on her right hand was probably made up by Catholic propagandist Nicholas Sander in the late 16th Century – as was the idea she had a third nipple.

V is for… VICTIMS: Five men were executed on May 17, 1536, for their part in her alleged crimes: court musician Mark Smeaton who confessed to being her lover under torture along with Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and brother George.

W is for… WITCH: Henry also accused Anne of using witchcraft as a way of marrying him.

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X is for… X-RATED: Although it was claimed Anne had sex with her brother, he denied it and there’s no evidence to back it up. George had once mocked Henry’s virility – and paid the price.

Y is for… YOUNG: Anne had nearly married her cousin in 1522 after returning from time in the French court and also had a secret engagement with another man.

Z is for… ZANY: After her ­execution, Anne’s body is said to have been stuffed into an old ­arrow chest and buried in the grounds of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the ­Tower, though a legend says she was spirited away and lies under a black slab at Salle church in Norfolk.

Anne Boleyn airs on Channel 5 at 9pm Tuesday night

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