The Virgin Queen explores the full sweep of Elizabeth's life: from her days of fear as a potential victim of her sister's terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley; into her ...
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Helen Castor presents an in depth and insightful series covering England's early Queens, from the High Middle Ages with Eleanor and get daughter-in-law Eleanor of Aquitane, through the Late... See full summary »
The Virgin Queen explores the full sweep of Elizabeth's life: from her days of fear as a potential victim of her sister's terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley; into her years of triumph over the Armada; and finally her old age and her last, enigmatic relationship with her young protégé, the Earl of Essex. Written by
I was really looking forward to this as Elizabeth is my favourite historical personage. However it's turned out to be a festival of historical inaccuracies, anachronisms and above all, poor casting.
The death of Mary Tudor didn't take place as was depicted, and in episode one Chancellor Gardiner was shown announcing Mary's death to Elizabeth in 1558, but Gardiner died three years before that in 1555. In the second episode Elizabeth used the quote "To err is human, to forgive, divine", which was written by Alexander Pope over 100 years after Elizabeth's death! Anne-Marie Duff, fine actress though she is, hasn't the fire and authority to play Elizabeth as she should be played. Sam Hardy is too wimpish for Dudley, which needs an actor with a commanding presence to play him. Jeremy Irons was just right for the part in the Channel 4 production "Elizabeth I" last year. Ian Hart is too young for Cecil, and Dexter Fletcher, who normally plays "cheeky Cockney" type roles, isn't right in the part of the Duke of Sussex either.
The scenes after Elizabeth's coronation were conducted in a room which was Jacobean, and the Victorian standing candelabra at the side of the throne were an anachronism. The stakes which the Protestant bishops Latimer and Ridley were tied to were nicely finished instead of being just a plain tree trunk as they would have been in reality - surely Mary's government would have thought that a bit of a waste when all they're going to do is get burnt? And to cap it all, they were burned in their best frilly nightshirts!
Lazy research by the writer, anachronistic quotes which seem to have escaped the script editor and lines no self respecting actor should have allowed to pass their lips have all combined to make The Virgin Queen a very poor example of a historical drama, which the BBC usually do so well (Charles II was excellent). Call me picky, call me pedantic, but if you're going to make a drama on one of the most famous women who ever lived, for god's sake get it RIGHT!
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