Release Date: Autumn 2005
Format: 4 part drama on the BBC
Character Played: Sussex
Synopsis: Drama about the reign of Elizabeth the 1st
Links: Coming Soon
2pth November 2005: More Virgin Queen info
Anne-Marie Duff stars as The Virgin Queen in a new drama for BBC ONE about the life of one of Britain's greatest monarchs, Elizabeth I.
Paula Milne's powerfully authored drama about the long and eventful life of England's iconic Queen is currently filming against a backdrop of some of Britain's most beautiful houses and landscapes.
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.
The cast also includes: Joanne Whalley as Queen Mary; Dexter Fletcher as the Earl of Sussex; Tara Fitzgerald as Kat Ashley; Sienna Guillory as Lettice Knowles; Tom Hardy as Robert Dudley; Ian Hart as William Cecil; Robert Pugh as Lord Chancellor Gardiner; Kevin McKidd as the Duke of Norfolk; Hans Matheson as the Earl of Essex; Emilia Fox as Amy Dudley; Ben Daniels as Francis Walsingham; Ewen Bremner as Sir James Melville; and Bryan Dick as Thomas Wyatt.
Source: BBC Press Office
20th June 2005: Dexter to feature in BBC's "Virgin Queen"
An ace for a queen
Anne-Marie Duff's hairline has been shaved and her eyebrows and lashes dyed blonde. It's all part of the physical transformation the actress has undergone for her portrayal of Elizabeth I in the Virgin Queen, the four-part, £6million drama the BBC plan to screen this autumn.
Anne-Marie jokes that by the time make-up artist Loz Schiavo applies the cosmetics that whiten her already pale skin and fixes the hairpiece 'I walk around looking like a Swan Vesta - big white face and a big red head'.
But with an actress of Anne-Marie's stature, you're not getting an impersonation. Rather, it's a rigorously grounded performance, with a razor- sharp insight into what made this sharpest of monarchs tick.
If you have been watching this actress as long as I have - through her years working with Richard Eyre at the National Theatre, then in the West End opposite Helen Mirren, her stint as Fiona Gallagher in TV's Shameless and her recent turn in Days Of Wine And Roses at the Donmar, you will have seen how she strives to achieve clarity of character.
(Amusingly, Mirren is also starring as Good Queen Bess in a rival production from Channel 4 - the actor Ewan Bremner has roles in both and Anne-Marie suggests he should act as queen go-between.)
When we first meet, Anne-Marie is eating lunch on the catering bus and joshing with 'those naughty boys' - her leading men: Tom Hardy, Kevin McKidd, Ian Hart and Dexter Fletcher who, respectively, play Leicester, Norfolk, Burghley and Sussex.
Later, on the set - an authentic 16th-century mansion that serves as the interior of Whitehall - she does a little wiggle for the boys. And then it's straight into rehearsals.
Director Coky Giedroye has Anne-Marie and Mr Hart enter the room, and there's something transfixing about the actress's portrayal.
I get the feeling that her uncanny embodiment of the Queen, coupled with Paula Milne's screenplay and Ms Giedroye's expertise behind the camera, could make this a ground-breaking drama.
Anne-Marie muses on what it was that defined 'this woman'. It's Elizabeth's 'bloody-mindedness', she finally decides.
'That fascinates us - and the fact that she was completely committed to the notion of being married to her country.
'That level of faithfulness is hard for us to comprehend because our monarchy is so different. You don't feel the touch of God in them today because they're so demystified. They're more of a soap opera, really.'
The use of her virginity as a political tool also captures our imaginations. 'The unconquered woman... very enigmatic, isn't it?
'The story we're telling is that she was a virgin, so I have to believe that - although we hint at unfulfilled love and desires.'
There are seven more weeks of filming to go, during which Anne-Marie must cover the 45 years of Elizabeth's reign, using her acting skills and special make-up.
Source: Daily Mail