There are a few PBS British miniseries that I believe are classics: Upstairs, Downstairs, I Claudius, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and the 1970s version of Elizabeth R, starring Glenda Jackson.
Elizabeth R follows Elizabeth, the daughter of Ann Boleyn and Henry VIII as she goes from being a young red-head beauty to the gray-haired (red-wigged) reigning queen of Great Britain. Glenda Jackson stars as Queen Elizabeth I her entire adult life. They did not switch out actresses as she aged.
The make up and costumes showed this royal trend-setting woman age, I want to say, at least sixty years. Glenda Jackson was able to depict the vulnerability, intelligence, and strength of this monarch at every age-stage of her life. Jackson (and her make up) was terrific!
The sets are regal, you can almost touch the deep royal blue and crimson velvet. The magnificent jewels make you wonder why there were poor people suffering under her reign…
The people at the BBC outdid themselves on this Emmy award winning production.
We watch as Elizabeth goes from being the banished “bastard” child of Henry VIII, to a strong queen who must put aside her personal feelings to do what she thinks is best for her kingdom. (Her mother was indeed married to Henry, although he labeled her as being that.) The threat posed by Mary, Queen of Scots must be resolved, she insists on making her won decision about marriage, and she must hold on to (and expand!) her country’s borders.
Elizabeth R is a six-part miniseries, which is actually six plays that have been pieced together. Glenda Jackson takes us seamlessly through the Virgin Queen’s life. Robert Hardy (yes, the same Robert Hardy from All Creatures Great & Small) was delightful as “Robin,” Elizabeth’s special friend.
I strongly recommend this 1970s BBC miniseries.
If you would like to see more TV and Movies suggestions, click here.