We can’t think of a single TV series or film that Dame Helen Mirren has been part of that we haven’t loved. From the delightful Calendar Girls to her cameo in Fast and the Furious, Helen Mirren is always one to watch. Now, she’s starring as the one and only Catherine the Great in the new period drama airing in SA on BBC First.
Here are some first-look images to check out before the series premieres next week. We’ve also mentioned everything we know so far about the much-anticipated drama.
Who is Catherine the Great?
Helen Mirren plays Empress Catherine – a woman who wielded some serious girl power. She led a coup that saw her husband overthrown, and her taking over the rule of Russia in the 1700s. She was the longest-serving female ruler in Russian history and one of the most significant monarchs of modern Europe. Catherine is responsible for a huge expansion of the Russian Empire, including the acquisition of Crimea, and turning Russia into one of the great powers of Europe.
Watch the trailer here…
What did she do?
Catherine is brought from Germany as a young girl to marry the heir to the Russian throne. It soon becomes apparent to everyone that she was a more suitable ruler than her unstable husband. After staging a coup to take the throne, Catherine tries to implement an ambitious program of liberal reform but encounters strong resistance. Instead, she turns towards imperial expansion. In her later years, witnessing the horrors unleashed by the French Revolution, Catherine turns against the French Enlightenment philosophy she had espoused in her youth and gradually becomes more ruthless, paranoid and despotic.
Catherine is a woman with healthy sexual desires and a constant need for love. She engages in a series of monogamous relationships through her life, but none more significant than Grigory Potemkin (played by Jason Clarke), who becomes her life partner and effective co-ruler, even after they decide to take other lovers. Although a generous and loving romantic partner, Catherine has a strained, antagonistic relationship with her son, Paul, even attempting to disinherit him in favour of her grandson, who she doted upon. Well-read and fiercely intelligent, approachable yet imposing, generous but with a ruthless streak, Catherine dazzles all who she meets.
More on the series…
This historical, romantic four-part mini-series explores the complexity of being a woman empowered – at times naughty, funny and visually stunning throughout – one not to miss!
Catch the first episode this Monday 2 December at 8pm on BBC First, DStv channel 119
Compiled by Features Editor, Stephanie van der Plank