The Virgin Queen (TV serial)

Last updated

The Virgin Queen
The Virgin Queen (TV Serial) Cover.jpeg
Genre Historical drama
Written by Paula Milne
Directed by Coky Giedroyc
Starring Anne-Marie Duff
Tom Hardy
Emilia Fox
Theme music composer Martin Phipps
Country of originUK
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes4
Producer(s) Paul Rutman
Running time237 min
Production company(s) BBC
Power Entertainment Media Ltd.
Original network PBS
First shown inUSA
Original release
  • 13 November (2005-11-13)
  • 20 November 2005 (2005-11-20)
External links

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. [1]



From her time as a young princess in her early twenties to her death in 1603, The Virgin Queen explores both the public and private life of Queen Elizabeth I (Anne-Marie Duff). [2] The series focuses on the internal motivation behind 25 year old Elizabeth's vow of chastity upon her ascension to the throne. [3] [4] As a child, she confides in her friend Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (Tom Hardy), that she wishes to never marry. Her relationship with Dudley, who would later become master of the Queen's horses, spans the four-part series and calls into question the ambiguous nature of their relations.[ clarification needed ] The series features a scene where a dreaming Elizabeth fantasizes about making love to Dudley. [4] When his wife Amy (Emilia Fox) dies under suspicious circumstances, Dudley proposes to the Queen and is rejected. Upon his death, Elizabeth's affections turn to Dudley's step-son Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Wessex. However, when he is caught making plans for a coup, she has him executed. [3]

As queen, Elizabeth is meticulous in constructing her public image. Scrutinizing every detail, she micro-manages everything from her appearance to her attitude. Alternately chaste and flirtatious, she nevertheless eschews love in favour of England. [5] History and politics are intertwined throughout the series, from England's defeat of the Spanish Armada to the change from a Catholic to a Protestant nation, Elizabeth uses her power and her court to maintain her will. [6]


Co-Produced by the BBC and Power television for £9 million, The Virgin Queen was filmed at Pinewood Studios in summer 2005. [1] [7] Originally intended to air on BBC One in September 2005, [8] the date would have coincided with the release of the Channel 4 two-part miniseries Elizabeth I (starring Helen Mirren). Due to the conflict, the BBC decided to delay the UK release until after the US opening in November 2005 on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre ,. [9]

Despite being a biopic of Elizabeth's life and reign, the series presented its main character with particular interest in several themes, most notably the emotional impact of her mother's execution and her love for Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (Tom Hardy). [4] Writer Paula Milne said of the series, "As my research started to reveal her unravelling, tumultuous relationship with Dudley, I knew I had found the spine of the story. Smart political and psychological interpretations of her life might give the drama contemporary gravitas, but its real power would lie in its emotional truth. Losing love, for whatever reason, reaches out through the centuries to all of us who have found love and lost it." [4]


Episode 1

The first episode depicts Elizabeth from her imprisonment in the Tower of London by the Queen, her sister Mary I, accused with plotting the Queen's demise, to her accession to the throne following Mary's death, and her coronation. Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Tower, accused of participating in Thomas Wyatt's rebellion to overthrow Mary. The episode strongly hints Elizabeth's participation, though evidence of this remains highly conjectural. The episode also establishes Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Dudley, and they are shown to be greatly in love, despite Dudley being married to Amy Robsart, whom he met at the Stanfield Hall, they were married when both were 18 years old. Elizabeth's frustration at her later house arrest at Woodstock Manor is emphasised to somewhat comic effect. She is shown being held at Woodstock from her release from the Tower until her sister's death from cancer, when in reality she was only held there a year, before being recalled to London so Mary could keep a closer eye on her. The episode also depicts the legend of Elizabeth being told she is Queen of England under an oak tree, depicted as being in Woodstock but which in reality is claimed to have occurred at Hatfield House, and her utterance of the quote "This is the work of the Lord, and it is marvellous in our eyes..."

Episode 2

The second episode shows Elizabeth from several months to a year after her coronation, establishing herself as Queen, to the emergence of Mary, Queen of Scots, as her political rival. The episode makes much of her clandestine romance with Robert Dudley, and her resistance to marriage. Elizabeth is shown to be struggling with the adjustment to being Queen, especially in regard to Dudley. A scene shows Elizabeth dreaming of making love with Dudley, but the plot of the series follows the opinion that she resisted these urges, and remained a virgin. The episode introduces or further establishes several key characters in the story of Elizabeth's reign, including William Cecil; Amy Robsart; Francis Walsingham; Katherine Ashley; Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (Elizabeth's cousin); and Lettice Knollys. The episode also shows Robert at his house with his wife, Amy, her health is in a poor condition, asking her husband to stay with her, but Robert replies that he must attend the court. also, the episode depicts Elizabeth's courtship from Philip II of Spain (her sister's widower) and the Archduke Charles of Austria. It also shows Elizabeth's early dealings with her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, including her plans for her to marry Dudley, as a means to secure a political union between England and Scotland, and the treason of Thomas Howard. The closing scene depicts the start of the relationship between Robert Dudley and Lettice Knollys. Midway through the episode, Elizabeth's contraction of smallpox is dramatically depicted, the death of Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart, who waited and longed for Robert, the episode shows her taking her own life, to help achieving her husband's ambitions to marry Elizabeth.

Episode 3

The third episode begins with Elizabeth's courtship with Francis, Duke of Anjou, and ends just following the destruction of the Spanish Armada. During her near death from smallpox in the previous episode, Elizabeth is shown wearing the ornate red wig or hairpiece she has become famous for. The episode depicts Elizabeth's courtship of Anjou as nothing more than politics, and a wish for an heir, and suggests that she harboured little real affection for him, though like many of her courtships, this remains ambiguous. The key point of character drama in this episode is Elizabeth's discovery of Robert Dudley's marriage to Lettice Knollys, in that scene, Dudley echoed the phraseology from his dead wife, Amy's earlier letter, he says, "I mortgaged my life in the hope that someday we'de be together. I have stood by and watched while others fall at your feet. flattering you vanity." upon which she is shown flying into a grief-fuelled rage. The illness Dudley suffered prior to his death is also depicted from fairly early on, though Elizabeth remains ignorant of his affliction. Great focus is also placed on Elizabeth's turmoil over the situation with Mary, Queen of Scots, who is executed towards the end of the episode, an act which Elizabeth is shown expressing great remorse in private. The impending invasion of the Spanish Armada is dealt with fairly rapidly, the primary scene concerning the Armada being Elizabeth's encampment at Tilbury, where she gives an invigorating speech. These scenes are intercut, and immediately followed with her grief and heartbreak over the death of Robert Dudley, and her brief seclusion during the celebrations over the Armada's defeat. The episode ends with her first encounter with Robert Devereux. The ending makes much of the theory that Devereux was actually the son of Robert Dudley by Lettice Knollys, instead of the result of her first marriage to Walter Devereux.

Episode 4

This episode shows Elizabeth in the twilight of her reign. Anne Marie Duff and Sienna Guillory are given ageing makeup in this episode, accentuating their age in comparison to the previous episodes, marking them as enduring 'relics' of the past. The episode revolves mainly around Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Devereux as her court favourite, and the machinations for his advancement by his mother Lettice Knollys, the Queen's former handmaiden. The enmity between Elizabeth and Lettice is also emphasised, and the plot deviates from established history by showing that Elizabeth eventually did meet with Lettice before her death, albeit briefly and without exchanging words. Devereux is held as a pawn between the two women, his love for Elizabeth on one side, his devotion to his mother on the other, the pressure of which causes him great turmoil, bordering on mental instability, culminating in his attempt at rebellion towards the end of the episode. One haunting scene in the episode shows Devereux walking in on a half-dressed Elizabeth, and his shock when he sees the Queen as decrepit and old, without her wig or make up. Elizabeth is the one remaining relic of the England she once knew, most of her friends and trusted advisors having been replaced by the next generation. The emphasis on Devereux takes away somewhat from the political problems Elizabeth was facing at the time, such as with Spain, France and Ireland, as well as significant problems in England itself with high taxes and the failure of the crops, though these events are made frequent reference to. The episode concludes with Robert Devereux's execution and Elizabeth's demise, including her encroaching senility and dementia with age, and her depression over Devereux's death. In these scenes, she is shown delivering her famous Golden Speech to Parliament. Her death is depicted in a more dramatic fashion than in reality, with her refusing to lie down in fear that she would not stand again. Elizabeth is also reminiscing of her life; walking through a crowd of people when her father was on the throne with someone saying "bastard", being informed that her sister Mary is dead, her beloved friend and chief-lady of the bedchamber Kat Ashley smiling at her, William Cecil, her one true love Robert Dudley smiling at her and her fateful exclamation of "I will have one mistress here, and no master! Do you hear me?!" Finally, she is drawn from her reminiscing when she apparently suffers a stroke and collapses, with her advisers, courtiers and ladies-in-waiting rushing to assist as she dies. The episode ends with William Cecil's son, Robert, preparing for the accession of Elizabeth's successor, James I. He is seen discovering that Elizabeth added a clasp to the ring worn by the sovereign; opening it, he discovers that a portrait has been hidden. The episode ends with Robert speaking "It is the whore Anne Boleyn; her mother." [10]

Historical accuracy

Described by its producers as "... [a] regal portrait ... steeped in historical accuracy", the series followed the general flow of history, but deviated from historical truth in numerous ways, such as:

Cast and credits


RolePortrayed byAppears in episodes
Queen Elizabeth I Anne-Marie Duff [11] 1, 2, 3, 4
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester Tom Hardy [12] 1, 2, 3, 4 (cameo and flashback only)
Amy, Lady Dudley Emilia Fox 2
Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex Dexter Fletcher [13] 1, 2, 3
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk Kevin McKidd [14] 1, 2
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley Ian Hart [15] 1, 2, 3, 4
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury Daniel Evans 3, 4
Queen Mary I Joanne Whalley [16] 1
Lettice Knollys Sienna Guillory [17] 1, 2, 3, 4
Sir Francis Walsingham Ben Daniels 2, 3
Lord Chancellor Gardiner Robert Pugh [18] 1
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex Hans Matheson [19] 3, 4
King Philip II of Spain Stanley Townsend 1
Kat Ashley Tara Fitzgerald [20] 1, 2, 3, 4(flashback and cameo only)
Sir James Melville Ewen Bremner 2
Mary, Queen of Scots Charlotte Winner3
Sir Walter Raleigh Derek Riddell 3, 4
Charles Blount, 1st Earl of Devonshire Sebastian Armesto 4
Francis Bacon, Viscount St Albans Neil Stuke 4
Francis, Duke of Anjou Matthias Girbig3
Jean de Simier Enzo Cilenti 3
Reginald Pole Michael Feast 1
John Brydges Tony Guilfoyle 4
Henry Bedingfeld Pearce Quigley 1
Cecily Siobhan Hewlett 4
Sir Horace Alsop Karl Theobald 4
Dentist Geoff Bell 4
Earl of Southampton Shaun Evans 4
AgnesJoanna Griffiths4
Thomas Phelippes Vincent Franklin 3
Gilbert Gifford Stephen Walters 3
Christopher Hatton Jason Watkins 1, 2, 3
John Dee Alan Williams 1
Thomas Wyatt the Younger Bryan Dick 1

Production credits

Filming locations


The Virgin Queen: Music From The Original Television Soundtrack
Virgin Queen 2006.jpg
Soundtrack album by
Released2 February 2006
StudioHear No Evil
Genre Classical
Label BBC Worldwide Ltd.
Producer Simon Platz

The original score was composed by Martin Phipps and features vocals by the Mediæval Bæbes and the London Bulgarian Choir. The score won an Ivor Novello Award for "Best Television soundtrack" on 24 May 2007. [21] The lyrics on the track played during the opening sequence were derived from a poem written by Elizabeth I.

Track listing

All lyrics are written by Martin Phipps (adapted) except where noted; all music is composed by Martin Phipps except where noted.

1."The Virgin Queen"   Mediæval Bæbes 2:08
2."The Work of the Lord"  Mediæval Bæbes3:20
3."One Mistress"Dessislava Stefanova  The London Bulgarian Choir 2:32
4."Miseria Nomine"  Mediæval Bæbes1:05
5."A Legacy of Comfort"   3:35
6."Essex" Ruth BarrettMediæval Bæbes3:31
7."Lilly White, Comely Queen"  Katharine Blake1:14
8."La Volta" Martin Phipps & Ruth Barrett 1:49
9."Armada"   1:24
10."God Breathed"Dessislava Stefanova The London Bulgarian Choir1:30
11."I've Come For Her"  The London Bulgarian Choir3:41
12."The Queen Lives"  Mediæval Bæbes2:19
13."Remember Me"Dessislava Stefanova  Dessislava Stefanova 2:25
14."The Tower"   3:17
15."Glass Words"   1:48
16."Say It's Not So"  Mediæval Bæbes2:45
17."I'll Be Blunt, Blount"  Mediæval Bæbes1:10
18."Faithful Hearts"   1:18
19."Gloriana"  Mediæval Bæbes3:36
Total length:44:45

See also

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.

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.

<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)

Elizabeth is a 1998 British biographical drama film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Kathy Burke, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant, and Richard Attenborough. 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, who had imprisoned her. As her early years continue, she faces plots and threats to take her down.

Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex English noble and general

Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, was an English nobleman and general. From 1573 until his death he fought in Ireland in connection with the Plantation of Ulster, where he ordered the Rathlin Island massacre. He was the father of Elizabeth I's favourite of her later years, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

Lettice Knollys British aristocrat

Lettice Knollys, Countess of Essex and Countess of Leicester, was an English noblewoman and mother to the courtiers Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Lady Penelope Rich. By her second marriage to Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, she incurred the Queen's unrelenting displeasure.

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.

Catherine Carey

Catherine Carey, after her marriage Catherine Knollys and later known as both Lady Knollys and Dame Catherine Knollys,, was chief Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth I, who was her first cousin.

Knollys, Knolles or Knowles, the name of an English family descended from Sir Thomas Knollys, Lord Mayor of London, possibly a kinsman of the celebrated general Sir Robert Knolles. The next distinguished member of the family was Sir Francis Knollys or Knowles, English statesman, son of Sir Robert Knollys, or Knolles, a courtier in the service and favour of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Robert had also a younger son, Sir Henry, who took part in public life during the reign of Elizabeth I and who died in 1583. From the time of Sir Francis, the family were associated with Greys Court at Rotherfield Greys and Caversham Park, then in Oxfordshire, as well as the nearby town of Reading in Berkshire, where the family's private chapel could once be seen in the church of St Laurence.

Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland

Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland was the younger daughter of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex by Lettice Knollys, and the wife of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland.

Sir Christopher Blount was an English soldier, secret agent, and rebel. He served as a leading household officer of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. A Catholic, Blount corresponded with Mary, Queen of Scots's Paris agent, Thomas Morgan, probably as a double agent. After the Earl of Leicester's death he married the Dowager Countess, Lettice Knollys, mother of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Blount became a comrade-in-arms and confidant of the Earl of Essex and was a leading participant in the latter's rebellion in February 1601. About five weeks later he was beheaded on Tower Hill for high treason.

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.

Cultural depictions of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I of England has inspired artistic and cultural works for over four centuries. The following lists cover various media, enduring works of high art, and recent representations in popular culture, film and fiction. The entries represent portrayals that a reader has a reasonable chance of encountering rather than a complete catalogue.

<i>The Virgins Lover</i>

The Virgin's Lover is a historical novel written by British author Philippa Gregory. It belongs to her series of Tudor novels, including The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Queen's Fool.

Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset

Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, was an English noblewoman who lived during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I and Charles II. Her father was Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Elizabeth I's favourite who was executed for treason in 1601. She was the second wife of William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, and the mother of his seven children.

Lettice FitzGerald, 1st Baroness Offaly was an Irish noblewoman and a member of the FitzGerald dynasty. Although she became heiress-general to the Earls of Kildare on the death of her father, the title instead went to the next FitzGerald male heir when her grandfather, the 11th Earl of Kildare, died in 1585. In 1620 she was created suo jure Baroness Offaly by King James I of England.

Elizabeth Knollys

Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton, was an English courtier who served Queen Elizabeth I of England, first as a Maid of Honour and secondly, after 1566, as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Knollys was the grand-niece of Queen consort Anne Boleyn, which made her a cousin once removed of the Queen. Lettice Knollys was her eldest sister. Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Leighton of Feckenham in Worcestershire in 1578. He served as Governor of Jersey and Guernsey.

The Virgin Queen is a 1923 British silent historical film directed by J. Stuart Blackton and starring Diana Manners, Carlyle Blackwell and Walter Tennyson.

Filho:Lucas Rayk Dudley Arthur Dudley was a 16th-century man famous for the controversial claim that he was the son of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, a man known to have had a long love affair with the queen.


  1. 1 2 "'Shameless' star is cast against type to play Virgin Queen". The Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  2. "Power of one - Anne-Marie Duff in The Virgin Queen | Features | The Stage". The Stage. 19 January 2006. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  3. 1 2 Bellafante, Ginia. "Such an Unhappy Sex Life? But Such a Glorious Reign" . Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "In bed with the Virgin Queen". 2006. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  5. Lloyd, Robert (12 November 2005). "Elizabeth I depicted in all her singular, regal style". Los Angeles Times. ISSN   0458-3035 . Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  6. "This 'Queen' rules with a passion - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  7. "Like a virgin" . Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  8. AF (14 July 2005). "Autumn 2005 Highlights" (PDF) (Press release). BBC One. p. 3. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  9. "Masterpiece: Season 35, Episode 11 The Virgin Queen". TV Guide. 2005. Retrieved 11 April 2017. First Aired: November 13, 2005
  10. This is the correct line, as shown by the completed version of the film, of which the last part is seen here:
  11. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Anne-Marie Duff plays Queen Elizabeth I". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  12. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Tom Hardy plays Robert Dudley, later the Earl of Leicester". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Dexter Fletcher plays the Earl of Sussex". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  14. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Ian Hart plays William Cecil, later Lord Burghley". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  15. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Kevin McKidd plays the Duke of Norfolk". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  16. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Joanne Whalley plays Queen Mary Tudor". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  17. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Sienna Guillory plays Lettice Knollys". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  18. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Robert Pugh plays Lord Chancellor Gardiner". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  19. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Hans Matheson plays the Earl of Essex". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  20. BBC Press Office (29 December 2005). "Tara Fitzgerald plays Kat Ashley". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  21. Staff writer (2007). "The 52nd Ivor Novello Awards were presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS on 24th May 2007 at the Grosvenor House, London". The Ivors. British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors.