Elizabeth I (2005 TV series)

Last updated

Elizabeth I
Mainimage elizabethi.jpg
Title screen with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons
Written by Nigel Williams
Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring Helen Mirren
Jeremy Irons
Patrick Malahide
Toby Jones
Hugh Dancy
Barbara Flynn
Ewen Bremner
Ian McDiarmid
Theme music composerRob Lane
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes2
Production
ProducerBarney Reisz
CinematographyLarry Smith
EditorsBeverley Mills
Melanie Oliver
Running time223 minutes
Production companies HBO Films
Channel 4 Television Corporation
Company Pictures
Distributor All3Media
Budget£5.5 million [1]
Release
Original network Channel 4 (UK)
HBO (US)
Picture format 16:9 576i
Audio format Stereo
Original release29 September (2005-09-29) 
6 October 2005 (2005-10-06)

Elizabeth I is a two-part 2005 British-American historical drama television serial directed by Tom Hooper, written by Nigel Williams, and starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I of England. The drama covers approximately the last 24 years of her nearly 45-year reign. Part 1 focuses on the final years of her relationship with the Earl of Leicester, played by Jeremy Irons. Part 2 focuses on her subsequent relationship with the Earl of Essex, played by Hugh Dancy.

Contents

The series originally was broadcast in the United Kingdom in two two-hour segments on Channel 4. It later aired on HBO in the United States, CBC and TMN in Canada, ATV in Hong Kong, ABC in Australia, and TVNZ Television One in New Zealand.

The series went on to win Emmy, Peabody, and Golden Globe Awards.

Plot

Part 1

In 1579, Elizabeth I refuses to marry. Her chief advisor, Lord Burghley, and her spymaster, Francis Walsingham, plan to have her wed the Duke of Anjou in order to cement an English-French alliance against Spain while her favourite, the Earl of Leicester, opposes the plan due to his own long-standing affections for her. Upon arriving in England, the Duke meets and courts Elizabeth, gaining her favour. She later decides not to marry him after Burghley dissuades her from following through due to negative popular opinion towards the match.

Over time, Walsingham gathers evidence to prove that Elizabeth's Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots is plotting to have her killed. Elizabeth is reluctant to have Mary executed because of the war it would likely ignite between England and Spain. During a secret meeting, Mary gives Elizabeth her word that she does not want her dead. Elizabeth hesitantly gives Leicester command of the English campaign to assist the Dutch against Spain, which fails. Once it is proven that Mary has in fact been conspiring against Elizabeth's life, Mary is judged guilty of treason and later executed.

After negotiations between England and Spain fail, a fleet of Spanish ships are sent for England. Elizabeth gives Leicester command of the land forces and rides with him and his stepson the Earl of Essex to Tilbury, where they expect the Spanish to attempt a landing and where Elizabeth delivers a speech to the troops. The Spanish Armada is ultimately defeated, but Leicester falls gravely ill just as they learn of the English victory. Later, on his deathbed, Leicester bids Essex to take care of Elizabeth.

Part 2

By 1589, Elizabeth has made a favourite of Essex and falls in love with him. She is openly outraged when he takes part in an English military expedition to Lisbon against her wishes, but she forgives him in spite of his failure to take the city from the Spanish. She grants him 10 percent of a tax on sweet wines and a seat on the Privy Council, of which Lord Burghley's son Robert Cecil was also recently made a member. Essex and Cecil develop a rivalry, as illustrated by the affair of Elizabeth's physician Dr. Lopez, who is hanged based on evidence brought forth by Essex of his participation in a Spanish plot against Elizabeth, evidence proven questionable after the fact by Cecil.

Essex's political ambitions begin to clash with his devotion and loyalty to Elizabeth. As Elizabeth finds her young lover's behavior becoming increasingly worrisome, she draws closer to Cecil, who is named Secretary of State following the death of Walsingham. Essex is publicly hailed upon his return to England after taking Cadiz from the Spanish, but his relationship with Elizabeth begins to deteriorate. She and Cecil suspect Essex of secretly communicating with James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, a potential successor to the English throne. After Burghley's death, Elizabeth sends Essex to Ireland to put down a rebellion but he instead makes a truce and returns to England alone. Elizabeth puts Essex under house arrest.

Essex and his followers fail to start a rebellion in London and are captured. At his trial, Essex accuses Cecil of collaborating with Spain but has no evidence to prove this, and he is found guilty of treason and beheaded. Some time later, Elizabeth becomes listless, going for three weeks without eating before making her way to her bed and requesting a priest, saying she is minded to die.

Cast

Eight actors receive billing in the opening credits of one or both parts of Elizabeth I:

The full cast of characters of each part is listed in the closing credits of each part. Apart from those receiving star billing, those in Part 1 include:

Apart from those receiving star billing and Salaman as Dr Lopez, those in Part 2 include:

Production

According to director Tom Hooper, Mirren "came onboard before the script was written because the feeling was that it was only worth doing if she would play it." [2] Hooper and Mirren had previously worked together on the police procedural drama Prime Suspect 6 (2003). The project on Elizabeth I was originally going to be two hours and focus on her relationship with the Earl of Essex, but Mirren "felt that there should be more politics" according to writer Nigel Williams. [1] The series was filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the massive sets were constructed inside a sports arena [1] that was abandoned in the 1970s. [3] The Whitehall Palace set was constructed to scale from original plans. [1]

Reception

Critical response

At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Elizabeth I received an average score of 81% based on 21 reviews. [4]

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Mirren's performance "is powerful enough to shatter your television screen, not to mention any notion you might have had that if you've seen one Elizabeth—Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson or Cate Blanchett, for example—you've seen them all." He added that Irons, who he felt "has sometimes settled into craggy self-parody in lesser films [...] invests Leicester with as much depth and complexity as he can, and he is every bit Mirren's equal onscreen." [5]

Brian Lowry of Variety felt that the second part was better than the first, praised Mirren's performance and wrote that "[director] Tom Hooper, who previously directed Mirren in Prime Suspect 6 , indulges [writer Nigel] Williams' penchant for long, theatrical monologues, which require a little getting used to in the slow early going. Gradually, however, as with the best British costume drama, the narrative becomes absorbing." [6]

Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times wrote that Mirren is "one of the few actresses working today who can actually convincingly play a historical figure in her 40s" and that Elizabeth I was more historically accurate than Elizabeth (1998), though she felt that "[the miniseries'] interpretation, like so many others, wallows in the painful self-pity of a powerful, aging woman who craves true love". While the miniseries is visually "no match for the 1998 movie" to Stanley, she concludes that Elizabeth I offers "a richly drawn portrait of a powerful woman who is both ruthless and sentimental, formidable and mercurial, vain and likable." [7]

Accolades

58th Primetime Emmy Awards
64th Golden Globe Awards
13th Screen Actors Guild Awards
Peabody Award in 2006 [8]

Related Research Articles

Elizabeth I Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford 16th-century English peer and courtier

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was an English peer and courtier of the Elizabethan era. Oxford was heir to the second oldest earldom in the kingdom, a court favourite for a time, a sought-after patron of the arts, and noted by his contemporaries as a lyric poet and court playwright, but his volatile temperament precluded him from attaining any courtly or governmental responsibility and contributed to the dissipation of his estate. Since the 1920s, he has been among the most prominent alternative candidates proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare's works.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex 16th-century English nobleman

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG, PC, was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599. In 1601, he led an abortive coup d'état against the government and was executed for treason.

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Queen Elizabeth I

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, was an English statesman and the favourite of Elizabeth I from her accession until his death. He was a suitor for the Queen's hand for many years.

Francis Walsingham English spy, diplomat and politician

Sir Francis Walsingham was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England from 20 December 1573 until his death and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster".

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley English statesman and chief adviser to Queen Elizabeth I (1520-1598)

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley was an English statesman, the chief adviser of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. In his description in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, Albert Pollard wrote, "From 1558 for forty years the biography of Cecil is almost indistinguishable from that of Elizabeth and from the history of England."

Babington Plot 1586 plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth of England

The Babington Plot was a plan in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, her Roman Catholic cousin, on the English throne. It led to the Queen of Scots' execution, a result of a letter sent by Mary in which she consented to the assassination of Elizabeth.

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury 16th/17th-century English statesman

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, was an English statesman noted for his direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns, as Tudor England gave way to Stuart rule (1603). Salisbury served as the Secretary of State of England (1596–1612) and Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612), succeeding his father as Queen Elizabeth I's Lord Privy Seal and remaining in power during the first nine years of King James I's reign until his death.

<i>Elizabeth R</i>

Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I of England. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia and broadcast in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.

<i>Elizabeth</i> (film) 1998 film by Shekhar Kapurr

Elizabeth is a 1998 British biographical period drama film directed by Shekhar Kapur and written by Michael Hirst. It stars Cate Blanchett in the title role of Elizabeth I, with Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud, and Richard Attenborough in supporting roles. The film is based on the early years of Elizabeth's reign, where she is elevated to the throne after the death of her half-sister Mary I of England, who had imprisoned her. As her early years continue, she faces plots and threats to take her down.

Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton

Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton was an important English aristocrat and courtier. He was suspect as a crypto-Catholic throughout his life, and went through periods of royal disfavour, in which his reputation suffered greatly. He was distinguished for learning, artistic culture and his public charities. He built Northumberland House in London and superintended the construction of the fine house of Audley End. He founded and planned several hospitals. Francis Bacon included three of his sayings in his Apophthegms, and chose him as "the learnedest councillor in the kingdom to present to the king his Advancement of Learning." After his death, it was discovered that he had been involved in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.

<i>The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex</i> 1939 American historical romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is a 1939 American historical romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland. Based on the play Elizabeth the Queen by Maxwell Anderson—which had a successful run on Broadway with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt in the lead roles—the film fictionalizes the historical relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The screenplay was written by Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas MacKenzie.

<i>The Virgin Queen</i> (TV serial) 2005 British television drama series

The Virgin Queen is a 2005 BBC and Power co-production, four-part miniseries based upon the life of Queen Elizabeth I, starring Anne-Marie Duff and Tom Hardy as Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester.

<i>Elizabeth: The Golden Age</i> 2007 film by Shekhar Kapur

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a 2007 biographical period drama film directed by Shekhar Kapur and produced by Universal Pictures and Working Title Films. It stars Cate Blanchett in the title role and is a fairly fictionalised portrayal of events during the later part of the reign of Elizabeth I, following up on Kapur's 1998 film Elizabeth, also starring Blanchett. The film co-stars Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Jordi Mollà, Abbie Cornish, and Samantha Morton. The screenplay was written by William Nicholson and Michael Hirst, and the music score was composed by A. R. Rahman and Craig Armstrong. Guy Hendrix Dyas was the film's production designer and co-visual effects supervisor, and the costumes were created by Alexandra Byrne. The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and various locations around the United Kingdom.

Penelope Blount, Countess of Devonshire

Penelope Rich, Lady Rich, later styled Penelope Blount was an English court office holder. She served as lady-in-waiting to the English queen Anne of Denmark. She was the sister of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and is traditionally thought to be the inspiration for "Stella" of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella sonnet sequence. She married Robert Rich, 3rd Baron Rich and had a public liaison with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy, whom she married in an unlicensed ceremony following her divorce from Rich. She died in 1607.

Anthony Babington English nobleman convicted of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I of England

Sir Anthony Babington was an English gentleman convicted of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I of England and conspiring with the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots. The "Babington Plot" and Mary's involvement in it were the basis of the treason charges against her which led to her execution. He was a member of the Babington family.

William Davison was secretary to Queen Elizabeth I. He played a key and diplomatic role in the 1587 execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and was made the scapegoat for this event in British history. As a Secretary of some influence, he was active in forging alliances with England's Protestant friends in Holland and Scotland to prevent war with France.

Francis Knollys (the elder) 16th-century English courtier and politician

Sir Francis Knollys, KG of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire was an English courtier in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, and was a Member of Parliament for a number of constituencies.

Sir Edward Stafford was an English Member of Parliament, courtier and diplomat to France during the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

Anthony Bacon (1558–1601)

Anthony Bacon (1558–1601) was a member of the powerful English Bacon family and was a spy during the Elizabethan era. He was Francis Bacon's brother.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Williams, Sally (10 September 2005). "Monarch of the moment". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  2. Cohen, David S. (11 June 2006). "Leading ladies split HBO love". Variety. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  3. O'Hare, Kate (12 July 2008). "'Elizabeth I' Tells Tale of One Queen and Two Robins". Zap2it. Archived from the original on 7 August 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  4. "Elizabeth I". Metacritic. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  5. Wiegand, David (21 April 2006). "Bloody good drama as Helen Mirren stirs up passions in 'Elizabeth I' film". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
  6. Lowry, Brian (15 April 2006). "Elizabeth I". Variety. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. Stanely, Alessandra (21 April 2006). "'Elizabeth I': The Flirty Monarch With an Iron Fist". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  8. 66th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2007.