Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Co-stars: Anne-Marie Duff, Dexter Fletcher, Joanne Whalley, Sienna Guillory, Kevin McKidd
Awards: Nominated for the 2005 Satellite Award for Outstanding Miniseries, nominated for the 2006 International Emmy Award for TV Movie/Mini-Series, nominated for for the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Lead Role in Television (Anne-Marie Duff), nominated for the 2007 BAFTA Award for Best Actress (Anne-Marie Duff), Best Drama Serial, and won for Best Costume Design (Amy Roberts).
Vulnerable and imperious, passionate and unreachable, from teenage princess to accomplished queen, forever torn between duty and personal longing, the reign of Elizabeth I is exposed in lavish and spectacular style.
Imprisoned in the Tower of London by her half-sister Queen Mary (BAFTA nominee JOANNE WHALLEY – Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis), scared but determined the young Elizabeth (ANNE MARIE DUFF – Shameless, The Magdalane Sisters) fights for her life and for what she believes, as the protestant daughter of Henry VIII, is rightfully hers – England’s throne.
After Mary’s death, Elizabeth plunges into her role as queen, discovering the harsh realities of ruling a country divided by faith and under threat from abroad. Convinced of her feminine weakness the all-male Privy Council clamours to advise their inexperienced queen. Yet, Elizabeth soon learns how to outwit her enemies and charm those who conspire to their own ends, showing all the strength and resolve of her father. Under constant pressure to marry, the coquettish Elizabeth rejects a string of wealthy European suitors, openly preferring the burning affections of her childhood playmate, the athletic, handsome and married Robert Dudley (TOM HARDY – Colditz, Star Trek: Nemesis). But when Dudley’s wife, Amy (EMILIA FOX – Henry VIII, The Pianist) is found dead, Elizabeth banishes Dudley, realising the scandal surrounding them could rock the very stability of England.
Amidst an atmosphere of plotting and intrigue, torture and murder, Elizabeth reigned alone for more than 40 years. This captivating drama sees the beguiling queen defend her throne against archrival Mary Queen of Scots and lead troops into battle against the Spanish Armada. Zealous and loving, whose duty as monarch always took precedence over her emotions, yet a liberated woman, adamant to reject a political marriage, The Virgin Queen delivers the fears and loathings, loves and pleasures of television’s favourite monarch.
The Virgin Queen is an intimate account of Elizabeth I’s rule.
The tale begins when Elizabeth is a teenage princess imprisoned in the Tower of London by her half-sister Queen Mary, charged with conspiracy and treason. Scared but determined the young Elizabeth fights for her life and for what she believes, as the protestant daughter of Henry VIII, is rightfully hers — England’s throne.
After Mary’s death, Elizabeth plunges into her role as queen, discovering the harsh realities of ruling a country divided by faith and under threat from abroad. Convinced of her feminine weakness, the all-male Privy Council clamors to advise their inexperienced queen. Yet, Elizabeth soon learns how to outwit her enemies and charm those who conspire to their own ends, showing all the strength and resolve of her father.
Under constant pressure to marry, the coquettish Elizabeth rejects a string of wealthy European suitors, openly preferring the burning affections of her childhood playmate, the athletic, handsome — and married — Robert Dudley. But when Dudley’s wife, Amy, is found dead, Elizabeth banishes Dudley, realizing that the scandal surrounding them could rock the very stability of England.
Surrounded by intrigue, conspiracy, torture and murder, Elizabeth struggles to balance her personal feelings with the rigors of the monarchy. The increasing clamor from her court and country to secure the throne transform the young queen into a liberated woman increasingly adamant that she will not be forced into a political marriage.
The Virgin Queen explores the fears, concerns, distastes and loves of the woman behind the crown, her duty as a monarch always taking precedence over her personal cravings.
In Elizabeth’s own immortal words: “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Dudley supported his father in the attempt to place Jane Grey on the throne in July 1553, was condemned to death for doing so, but pardoned in October 1554, went abroad and distinguished himself with his brother in the campaign against France in 1557. He received some kindness from Queen Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain, but his real fortunes began when Elizabeth, upon her accession, made him her Master of the Horse. First married to Amy Robsart (who he has been accused of murdering in order to marry Elizabeth), then to Lettice Knowles.
Tom on Dudley:
The man who captures the heart of Elizabeth, but nearly leads to her downfall. Actor Tom Hardy describes him as, “A bit of an old dog, like an old Irish wolfhound! That’s really his journey, from mischievous puppy to old, dying dog by the fireplace.”
His loyalty was cemented in early childhood when he and Elizabeth played together; his father John was an influential figure at Court in Edward’s day. His father had plotted to keep Queen Mary off the throne, and been executed. Robert had been spared, but imprisoned in the Tower of London, a bond he shares with Elizabeth.
“They’ve both gone through their own traumas and have similar experiences in the hardships of growing up within the dynasties of the royal family and politics, and then meet again in happier times at the beginning of a new era when Elizabeth takes to the throne,” explains Tom. “There is sexual desire there but Robert is also an old family friend and she’s very happy to see a familiar, friendly face at Court just before she’s crowned.”
That shared background, Tom believes, is part of the attraction for Elizabeth. “Why would she find any man attractive, Elizabeth?” he ponders. “It’s because he listens and is loyal, is very faithful and understanding and actually will talk back to her because of their childhood friendship – though he always crosses the line.”
Though it undoubtedly helped that Dudley was extremely handsome. “He is dashing, a doublet-wearing chancer in many ways,” agrees Tom. “He’s roguish – but also of good blood and there’s a definite passionate thing going on between them, sometimes not as discreet as it should be, at all!”