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The Virgin Queen

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The Virgin Queen
updated 4.17.2007

Warning! Plot points may be revealed below!

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I found Masterpiece Theatre's presentation of The Virgin Queen to be fascinating. The costumes are beautiful. I have questions about the eyeglasses. Were they common then or had they just been invented? I was surprised that they looked modern.

Peggy Keene
Edmonton, AB

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
My grandfather and I watched The Virgin Queen together and really enjoyed it. It provided much fodder for discussion the next day, about Elizabeth I and her reign, its impact, her personality, and so on. We also loved the soundtrack that accompanied the movie. Thanks!

Fatima Ansari
Manassas, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
By chance I caught The Virgin Queen on my local PBS channel. Anne-Marie Duff's beauty is so captivating as Queen Elizabeth I that I couldn't take my eyes off the television. And the music is so hauntingly lovely, emotive and enchanting. I loved the scene changes, how they kept flowing from one gorgeous frame to the next with not ever a dull moment. Thank you! Thank you! (Mr. Gerald Stein, my English Lit teacher in 1984, thank you also for turning me on to the Elizabethan Age!)

Diana Lee Walton
Grand Rapids, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Just finished watching The Virgin Queen. It is one of the best films I've ever seen!

Sheryl Peters
Indianapolis, IN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Having just seen this series for the fourth time, what can I say? I love it! English history, particularly Tudor, is one of my hobbies and I have seen many series including Elizabeth R and The Six Wives of Henry VIII that aired back in the 1970s. I found the original Henry VIII much superior to the more recent versions, however this Elizabeth, though different than the original was as satisfying and had a fresh quality that I liked very much. The music, the cinematography, the acting (of course) and the sensuality brought this version to life in a new way without detracting from the historical accuracy. I did a lot of reading about Elizabeth and particularly Robert Dudley after watching, and was amazed at how closely the series follows the facts. My only complaint, to be considered in the face of my having ordered the DVD, the CD of the music (via UK Amazon,) and a few other CDs from the Mediaeval Baebes, is what I perceive to be too big a split between the first and second parts (as aired in the US). Part one was very uplifting and exciting and part two continued in this vein initially but, abruptly, Robert Dudley was in declining health. The rest of the second part, dealing with later years, seems almost too big a contrast. I found it hard to go from the young and triumphant Elizabeth to the really old one without having more of a sense of her middle years.

Julie Doyle
Dover, NH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen! I felt like I knew her! The acting was just terrific. Thank you!

Pat Sather
Berea, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved it! The Virgin Queen is compelling, mesmerizing and heart-breaking. It took my breath away! I had never heard of Anne-Marie Duff prior to watching, but I thought her performance was nothing short of extraordinary. I am not a history buff, nor am I familiar with the specific details of Elizabeth's life, but I'm fairly certain that some dramatic license was taken. Nonetheless, I did not feel cheated. Some have commented on the dialogue, saying that it did not have the "feel" of the era, but for me, listening to such gorgeous dialogue was like eating one delicious piece of divine chocolate after another. American television is hideous at best, so to hear such intelligent dialogue, and to watch such wonderful drama was a joy and treat. Bravo to PBS for an outstanding production, and thanks for having the fortitude to not "dumb down" your broadcasts!

Belinda Smith
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
In the scene that follows Elizabeth declaring her virginity, I believe she's playing the virginals. What a clever, subtle production touch if this is so!

Bill Lazzarotti
Wappingers Falls, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved The Virgin Queen and am very interested in the history of England. I also have seen Henry VIII, which was done so well. I hope there are more to come.

Jolene Healy
Boylston, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched The Virgin Queen on Masterpiece Theatre and was very disappointed at not being able to make out the dialogue. Not being able to understand so much of the dialogue made it hard to define what was taking place in her life. I just copied some of the information from the Web site and now have a better clarification about what was going on in her life. The acting was stupendous!

Alice Christine Davis
Rice Lake, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I saw that Masterpiece Theatre was showing The Virgin Queen and I decided to watch a few minutes before going to bed. Well, I couldn't tear myself away from it and watched eagerly from beginning to end. The acting, costumes, make-up and cinematography were excellent and accurate. Programs like this make it worthwhile to watch television, and surely confirm my belief that fact is infinitely more interesting than fiction!

Ursula Kofahl-Lampron
St Charles sur Richelieu, QC, Canada

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I enjoyed watching this excellent production again and was struck by the way The Virgin Queen presents the life of one of the world's greatest queens. It left me with a feeling that she ruled not only in her own right and name but also for her mother's sake. It is hard to hear all of your life that your birth was not legal. In the face of all that, she possessed great courage.

Sharon Warren
Stafford, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The story of Queen Elizabeth I is one of my favorites. However, like every Elizabeth movie or television series I have watched, the extremely important 9-day rule of Lady Jane Grey is left out. This disappoints me because the choice to give the crown to Jane showed just how much opposition there was in ultimately giving the crown to Elizabeth.

My only other comment about Masterpiece Theatre's The Virgin Queen, is that had I not been a history buff, I would have had no idea who they were passing the crown to in the end of the movie: James? James who?

Otherwise, it was great movie! I loved the casting as well.

Danielle Hansen
Grand Rapids, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The Virgin Queen is a wonderful historical drama. My girlfriend and I were riveted. The costumes look just like the paintings of the period. The makeup is amazing. The characters age so naturally. We learned so much from the film and the Web site notes. The only criticism I have is that the characters were so outspoken to the queen. I can't imagine people actually treating her like that.

Steve Smith
Alamogordo, NM

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Last week, I accidentally stumbled upon your production of The Virgin Queen, after finding Desperate Housewives too insipid to bear. I was drawn into the story of Queen Elizabeth I and her world, and enjoyed watching the conclusion tonight. As my knowledge of the history of Elizabeth and the English crown is very limited, this movie inspired me to research and delve into such an intriguing person. Great job!

Emily Hadfield
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I enjoyed The Virgin Queen very much. The acting is wonderful, the music inventive and the costumes and production design are very well done. But, when someone has been fighting in the field for some time, his clothes dirty up a bit! The photography almost made me turn the channel. Handheld does not save money. Sometimes the photography was fine, but then it would creep back into the NYPD Blue, bad music video, moving zoom and drunken sailor look. Who's to blame I wonder, the director of photography or the director?

D. Bailie
New York, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Bravo, PBS! Bravo, WHYY-TV! I wish I could watch quality dramas such as The Virgin Queen every night -- dramas that also strive to accurately portray history. More, more please! This was a feast!

Lynn Denton
Philadelphia, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This was one of the best-made historical films I've ever seen. It was high-integrity enough to appear on public television, but because it focused on a person with such an incredibly rich human side to match her accomplishments, it lacked a boring moment. All the detail and devices were very artistic. The Mediaeval Baebes' proto-minimalist score added so much, and the power of musical motifs was impressive. The music recalled the best of renaissance-era music, but reflected just right modern tastes.

I guess the biggest compliment I can offer is this: My Mom, a hardened network television viewer and sworn enemy of "that educational stuff," got addicted and tuned in for the second half!

Tommy Scheurich
Norman, OK

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Oh, my goodness! I loved The Virgin Queen! Anne-Marie Duff makes a wonderful Elizabeth, beautifully striking, if not conventionally pretty. But what I especially like is the music. It fits the mood of the show perfectly, I'm going to get a hold of a copy of it very soon, I hope. Thank you PBS, for such a great show!

Alexandra Thompson
Belleville, IL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is one you don't want to miss! It has it all: a great story, wonderful acting, incredible history and visuals. It is totally enthralling. My husband and I stumbled on it and cannot wait to see part two!

Patricia Winchild
Baltimore, MD

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Well done! While aspects of the story had to be adapted based on history's speculation of Elizabeth's life, this was the most accurate portrayal I've seen on film. It was refreshing to hear bits of her speeches and letters peppered throughout the script. The music uplifted and complimented the plot beautifully. The young actress played Elizabeth well, showing her strength, intelligence, and humanity simultaneously. Thank you for such an experience.

Melanie Glenn
Urb, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I watched The Virgin Queen the other night: Wow! I've also read the comments here in The Forum, and yes, it's quite funny how folks have such different ideas and reactions to the production. I thought it was marvelous and the music was fantastic! As far as "authentic Elizabethan" goes, I watched this on a television, in the year 2007. The audience is living today. I feel the music connects the past with the present. Thank you!

Kathy Kirlin
Casper, WY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Hats off to PBS! The Virgin Queen is, without a doubt, outstanding! Not only for its history but great acting also.

Glenn Hudon
Beverly, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I've caught The Virgin Queen at least twice and I love it. The score is a bit loud at times but I think it adds a lot to the film. Anne-Marie Duff and Tom Hardy (what a hunk!) are great, as is the rest of the cast. I can't wait to purchase the DVD and the soundtrack. As usual, Masterpiece Theatre and PBS have the best shows to watch on television.

L. Watkins
Milwaukee, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Your biography neglects to mention the historic fact that Elizabeth I presided over a revolution in religion in a way that her father never dreamt of. She commissioned a new liturgy and then had countless priests and laymen executed for being faithful to the Catholic mass. They were hunted down, hanged, drawn and quartered. Her advisors enriched themselves with church properties and became the new nobility. A case in point, William Cecil became Lord Burghley, after a convent by that name.

Susan Lloyd
Whitehall, PA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I just watched the first installment of The Virgin Queen last night and I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed this latest version of the life of Elizabeth I to also watch the BBC's production from the early 1970s. Although it's not nearly as glossy and beautiful, it somehow struck me as a more convincing and a more faithful narrative. It also has an optional voice over by Alison Weir, the author, with lots of juicy tidbits. I question the casting somewhat of this latest version; The Earl of Leicester to me is not believable enough. Since we don't really know exactly how these people were, everyone has their own expectations. For instance, I like the fact that in this version we see Mary I as less of a tragic and sad lonely woman, and more assertive, although I think the reality was not the case. Anyway, keep these period pieces coming. They are such a respite from all other programming.

Cecilia Staunton
Norwalk, CT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Very well done! I must say though, I loved Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabeth. I liked Cate Blanchett better, and their Duke of Norfolk was more rigorous. However, Miss Duff is a fine Elizabeth. The three greats are Anne-Marie Duff, Helen Mirren, and Cate Blanchett. No one else could do the character justice. I look forward to seeing more; we have just seen Part I. I liked the way they portrayed the fine line she walked. However, historically she was reconciled, be it briefly, with her sister. I have never seen Mary played so harshly. Those girls were victims of parental abuse. Isn't it interesting that we still have the idea that people with money, the "upper classes," are good parents? PBS is to be congratulated on a fine show.

Carolyn Lighthart

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Whenever Masterpiece Theatre airs, I eagerly watch and have never been disappointed with the quality. This version of the life and reign of Elizabeth I captures the queen and her time in a spirit which I enjoy greatly as a viewer, teacher, and amateur historian. It helps bring perspective to a time of great change, which could have ended in chaos if not for this remarkable woman.

Bonnie Kieffer
Wappingers Falls, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I find it most interesting that the British Empire, probably the greatest and most powerful empire in the world, saw its initial impetus under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. It then rose to its pinnacle of power and influence during the reign of Queen Victoria, and disappeared into the historic record under the reign of Elizabeth II. It's quite remarkable that those three queens, reigning for a total of about 164 years in the thousand-year history of England's largely male monarchs will be so remembered.

Colin Genders
Chilliwack, BC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
At long, long, "Gloriana" last -- a very nearly perfectly accurate film about the life of Elizabeth I! I've seen only the first half so far, but have no reason to believe the next will be any less wonderful. As in any drama, some historical facts have been changed or omitted but precious few. I am an amateur but long-time and well-read "Elizabethan scholar," and I was absolutely enthralled by this film. The casting is practically perfect, and Elizabeth was perfectly cast. This lady was Elizabeth! Robert Cecil and Sir Francis Walsingham, too, were perfectly cast. This is a wonderful work. I encourage anyone to see it, whether you know much about Elizabeth Regina or nothing. Thank you with all my heart!

Betty Willard
Tallahassee, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved The Virgin Queen so much so that I wanted more and read a biography, the novel Legacy, by Susan Kay, as well as excerpts of the writings of Elizabeth I. My congratulations to Anne-Marie Duff, Tom Hardy, Tara Fitzgerald and the entire cast! I also love the soundtrack, which isn't sold in the US, so I bought it online from the UK. Glad to see The Virgin Queen is being re-broadcast!

Janis Price
Reseda, CA

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