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Warrior Queen
updated 2.10.2004

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I haven't been able to see Warrior Queen yet because my PBS station was one of those that opted not to air it. I was disappointed because, with only a disclaimer, I would have decided if I wanted to see it or not. I didn't need a censor to tell me I couldn't. It is up to me to decide if the show is good or not. Based on what I've read now, it appears that the show had both good points and bad points. I've ordered the movie and hopefully will be seeing it soon. All I can say is maybe next time they'll show the program, putting a more detailed disclaimer on it, so those who don't want to see it don't have to and those who do, can.

Janis Moore
Sacramento, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
After watching Warrior Queen, I had honestly lost all faith in Masterpiece Theatre. Perhaps, as nasty little Nero said (in twentieth century jargon), something about, "not being able to hack it". Well, my faith was restored after seeing The Road From Coorain. This is the kind of programming I turn to PBS for. Please, come home!

Jane Finn
Boone, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I recently came back from my first trip to England and Boudica was being heavily advertised on English TV. I wished that we could have cool programming like that in the USA and my wish came true! I was thrilled to see this production. I am no history expert, but I thought that this program had a good feel for what it must have been like for the ancient Celts to confront the Romans. It was wonderful to see the portrayal of Claudius again as well, after seeing I, Claudius on TV, and reading the book Claudius the God. Margaret Thatcher's birthday was the next day and since she has often been compared to Boudica; great timing!

Julianne Dayer
Topanga, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Once again you have successfully proven that PBS provides the American public with quality television. Your presentation of Warrior Queen was a monument to quality in American television broadcasting. All British school children are taught the story of queen Boudica and her uprising against occupying Romans. The presentation was faithful to history, and I would like to say that the producer's artistic license as far as the "magick" performed by the Druid priest was done in a tasteful manner. Thank you very much for this broadcast, I am happy to say that Warrior Queen rates as high in quality as the ever classic I, Claudius.

Joseph Vigil
Fort Worth, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I really can't imagine why PBS decided to run Warrior Queen. My friend and I couldn't decide if it was supposed to be intentionally sappy or if it was meant to be a serious drama. Our first doubt surfaced when the Roman soldier made the comment to the king, "If you don't play ball...." The dialogue was terrible throughout. Two British friends of mine turned the program off during the first half-hour, finding it too silly for words. Alex Kingston is a fine actress and I can't understand why she'd ever agree to this role.

Kaye Murdock
Salt Lake City, UT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Last night I saw your wonderful version of Boudica 's tale, Warrior Queen. I was very pleased with it on the whole. You had the good knowledge and sense to take the Celtic ideas of her and not the Roman, of a murderous woman who slayed her own daughters. Bless you for this. History is written by the victors and the Romans have done a huge injustice to the Gauls and the Celts. Thank you also for sticking with the time period's costumes and scenes. I am a medieval re-enactor and I was just overjoyed! Also, great choice on the lead actress. She played a very strong and powerful rendition of Boudica. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now can we get more strong female historical figures in your tales? Maybe Ann, the Elizabethan female pirate, who charmed Elizabeth into leaving her head where it was. Or maybe Bess of Hardwick? Thanks again for a job well done.

Dawn Ratz
Fort Myers, FL

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I loved Warrior Queen! Alex Kingston was fantastic. The vitality of the film was exhilarating. It brought home for me how far removed from true living these modern times are. Though just as brutal in many ways, the passion and fight for a life with honor has gone the way of the warriors. Wonderful production!

Deidre Gregg
Traverse City, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This first-century saga has held my imagination for a score of years. How often I wished someone would see the scope and merit of the drama of the Iceni's rebellion led by Boudica. To defeat a Roman legion in that century was an amazing feat.

Who could do such a thing? How did the spectacle unfold? Now, Masterpiece Theatre has made an admirable effort with their Warrior Queen. Thank you for taking on this challenge -- to bring a legend to life with all authenticity brought to bear. It was satisfying and I am grateful.

Lyle Sparkman
Granby, MO

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I would like to comment on the Warrior Queen movie. I think the scene in which they showed those 2 young girls being raped was disgusting! Why would any movie or network want to show something so sick & twisted? I turned the movie off at that scene and did not finish watching it. Also, I've decided to boycott Masterpiece Theatre if that's the kind of content they're going to put in films. You really should be ashamed of yourselves for showing something so disturbing and monstrous!

Buffalo, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I was of two minds whether to watch Warrior Queen thinking it would be boring. I have to commend you on a great portrayal of the Warrior Queen. Alex Kingston was, as always, fantastic. The battle scenes were incredible. I am so glad that I stayed up to watch this program as it was two in the morning here. Superb in every way and so very educational.

Susan Walton
Ft. McMurray, AB

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
What an amazing story! I have never heard of the Warrior Queen before. Leave it to Masterpiece Theatre to introduce another incredible historical character to me. Alex Kingston was wonderful as Boudica. The rest of the cast was great too.

I've been watching Masterpiece Theatre since I was a teen in the early 1970s. It is the best teacher I've ever had. Who says you can't learn from television?

Lynne Lowe
Santa Barbara, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Warrior Queen was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Again the history of the Celts was brought to life for all to see and understand. Never underestimate the power of a woman, nor the history and 'magick' of the Celtic culture. I am proud to say that I practice the ways of old, the Pagan ways. And I am proud to say that I will include Boudica in my pantheon of honored Gods and Goddesses from now on.

Carla Smith
Maiden, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
The story of Queen Boudica is, indeed, one of the great stories known to every educated child in Britain. I first heard the tale from one of my grandmothers, who had heard the story as a child in Yorkshire. It was the Celtic legend that Grandmother Eva liked to share with others. She would have loved the Masterpiece Theatre presentation.

Antiquarians may grumble about some of the details in the Masterpiece Theatre production. Still, Warrior Queen works well as a parable for the present age. References to terrorists and freedom fighters, to client states and guest workers, and to struggles for religious freedom, all have continuing relevance in today's global economy. The British know the importance of Boudica's story. Americans should be taking notes.

Robert Murphy
Bourne, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I am a regular watcher of Masterpiece Theatre and was very upset at the raw showing of rape, sex, and killing in Warrior Queen. Boudica's motivation for revolting against the Roman army may have been the rape of her daughters, but the graphic depiction of it in your show was unwarranted and unwanted. I found the show to be loathsome and revolting. I am not asking you to place stronger advisories on such a program before showing another like it. Do not show further shows like it.

Jason Miller
Ogden, UT

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Warrior Queen shows how many women have been written out of history and now we are finding them and putting the pieces together. I write stories about women who have stood alone and I have seen the current media and press destroy such women. This movement by PBS helps our collective consciousness.

Vikki Hufnagel
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Watching Alex Kingston in Warrior Queen was one of the most thrilling experiences I have ever had watching any of the performing arts, including theatre, film and television. Her indomitable spirit, courage, passion, strength and determination were so clear and so true at every turn that not only was she convincing, she was absolutely compelling. Ms. Kingston tapped into something as Boudica that goes far beyond words about being a woman of valor and courage in any age... but especially when life is brutal, cruel and short.

Diana Peacock
Bumpass, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Well done, inspiring and thought provoking, both on the history and on current events. Thanks for a good production.

Gail Siptak
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
As much as the Roman Empire has been celebrated in history, often it is the tales of the victor that capture the imagination of the masses. In Warrior Queen a cherished and long-held tale of a triumphant woman in the history of Britain is at last brought to the screen in a powerfully brilliant manner.

Boudica made Rome sit up and take notice. She challenged the Roman ideals and the very basis of their "Pax Romana." In fact, she shook Rome by her very femininity and the power she was able to wield. Though the largeness of her "mythos" has been obscured by time, the very fact that her existence is verified by historical documentation is astounding. One example is of the "victors" not having been able to totally revise history. Kudos to the writers and producers, and to those who partook of this project and made it come alive on the screen! Hail Boudica!

H. Maria Clerk
Fort Atkinson, WI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Warrior Queen was excellent, notwithstanding a "Merlin" approach at various times that tended to add interest and entertainment. It was an inspiring work and worthy of praise. The real story of Boudica has more legend than fact in that it took place before any written records. The film was a wonderful interpretation of what is considered actual events. Congratulations on a job well done.

Barry Cave
Houston, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Upon seeing the title Warrior Queen, I nearly flipped channels Sunday night, since I have no interest in fantasy wars; but, when I realized the program was Masterpiece Theatre, I decided to watch it anyway!

I'm very glad I did. Being interested in all genres of history, I was surprised at my lack of knowledge of the Roman Empire's ventures into Britain. This was a very eye-opening story for me, and I hope to continue learning about it via your links.

Anyway, the program was very well done. Thank you for your continued attempts/successes at excellent TV programming!

Carla Elliott
Jackson, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Warrior Queen promises much and for the most part delivers. The first half of the film is intelligent, passionate and very good. The second half seems rushed and could have been twenty minutes longer to do justice to the story. The final battle gives the impression of two armies of almost equal size, when the Celts outnumbered the Romans by at least three to one. But the effort is praise worthy and should stir more study of the world of Roman Britain.

Michael Blount
Norfolk, VA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This is one of the worst productions I have ever seen from PBS. The historical errors are so glaringly obvious that I don't see how anyone with knowledge of the period could miss them. The entire atmosphere of the film was that of pure propaganda, the good Britons versus the evil Romans; and the overall length was not nearly sufficient to give the subject matter the treatment it deserved. I would give the screenwriter the advice to go to the library and try doing some research.

Lance Kirby
Sciotoville, OH

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Very well done. Authentic, realistic, moving, and entirely unknown to this descendent of Irish Celtic stock. I think it was a fine contribution to world history, especially at a time when imperial behavior rears its ugly head again in the world. This is a good reminder that people have a right to fight for their freedom and their land.... even in Iraq.

Everything that has been said about Alex Kingston is true. Her performance was stellar. Even my inability to willingly suspend disbelief was suppressed. The thought of a woman being able to wield a large sword against Roman legionnaires almost defies logic, but she pulled it off beautifully.

Only one small point was hard for me to believe. Addressing the Romans across a massive battle line would surely have taken a booming voice, which Kingston did not quite muster. Apparently the historical Boudica must have had a chest as big as Mahalia Jackson and the commanding appearance of Golda Meier. In her favor, Kingston, all beautiful in her ruggedness, did definitely do justice to the redheaded Celtic woman.

Keep up the good work!

Lester Fisher
Mountain View, HI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
KVIE's rather craven and condescending decision to withdraw Warrior Queen from broadcast at the last minute makes me wonder how long they intend to keep touting the program on their Masterpiece Theatre Web page, which is still on display as of 15 October.

KVIE's management can only wonder at the disappointment some viewers surely must have experienced Sunday 12 October, when viewers tuned in expecting an action-packed depiction of the Iceni revolt against Roman rule in the first century A.D., only to get a recycling of Bertie & Elizabeth, a very tepid soap opera about the Windsors. Yeah...that'll work. No one will be able to tell the difference!

Tom Wootton
Elk Grove, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I actually enjoyed Warrior Queen quite a bit. For a mainstream production, I was prepared for something truly dreadful. So I was pleasantly surprised. They did seem to use Braveheart as a template in many ways, but that's not really a bad thing. The performances in the previews I saw seemed rather stilted, but in the context of the piece they worked for me and were even rather moving. I'm definitely going to tape it and add it to the collection.

I would have liked to see some ban-draoi (women druids) as well, especially in the battle scenes. I understand why they chose to limit the number of main characters, and I assume they thought they needed to "balance" the three warrior women by having a male do the magic. That's ok with me in terms of making a manageable film (and providing a counterpoint to productions like The Mists of Avalon), but it does tend to further the misconception that all the druids were men. I think that once they had the other tribes show up, it would have been easy enough to show some ban-draoi in their entourages, and to have them running crow-like through the battle freaking out the Romans.

Other than that, I thought the women (and men) were admirably fierce. I absolutely adored the feral children and guerrilla warfare. I thought the magic was presented well -- a good balance between the mystical and the realistic, between the historical and the contemporary.

Kathryn Price
Amherst, MA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have always been fascinated by Queen Boudica since reading Song for a Dark Queen several years ago. I enjoyed the presentation, although it was quite bloody. And the modern interjections ("We need to take [the Iceni] out", says Nero at one point; one Roman's recommendation that the Iceni "play ball" and "get on the team") and continuing references to terrorism (a modern concept) were a bit disconcerting. And the end left us hanging. We know Boudica took poison rather than submit to captivity.

Tanya Tyler
Lexington, KY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
An all-together good attempt at the portrayal of the events that led to Boudica's rebellion. The story, however, appears rushed leaving little time for the development of key characters. Also, the actress who plays Boudica was not very convincing. The Boudica from legend, from the few surviving facts and from works like Ashes of Britannia, by Haley Elizabeth Garwood, is portrayed as a red-headed, fiery-tempered, charismatic avenging angel. Boudica in this movie does not live up to this image. Other detractors include Nero's frequent use of "modern" speech, the reference to London (should have been 'Londinium') and generally unimaginative and unconvincing battle scenes. But all together a good attempt.

Randy Zamore
Coronado, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Was this production aimed at a children's audience? I loved the legend of the Warrior Queen that I learned in school in the Bahamas as a child, but the present production -- while beautifully shot and very well performed -- utilizes a script that is surprisingly banal given the quality of most productions on PBS.

The low point may have been Nero musing that he couldn't be been seen as 'unable to hack it' with reference to dealing with Boudica's pending defensive raid, but the fact is that the story had 1st century AD soldiers questioning the merits of war, tribal leaders arguing over territory and the Warrior Queen herself counseling her daughters in very 21st century pop psychology terms. Did anyone else have a problem keeping a straight face during some of the verbal jousting matches on screen?

Kimberly King-Burns
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Warrior Queen did not shy away from depicting gruesome scenes; why then, was it not true to two legends? 1) Boudica poisoned herself and 2) her flogging took place (by explicit order of the Roman Commander) in the gathered presence of all her people... Supposedly, she was taken to a public forum wearing only a cloak which was stripped from her when she was on a podium, upon which all the male Iceni turned their backs out of respect and the females watched the flogging for support. It would have been a most dramatic scene.

Deirdre Breton
Toronto, ON

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I very much enjoyed Masterpiece Theatre's presentation of Warrior Queen. I thought the cast did a wonderful job. The story was engrossing and, save for one example, has that faux authenticity which gives the idea that we've actually learned something useful from historical fact.

The only disruptive element came during the early phases of each battle scene, wherein children are shown to be spearheading attacks against adult Roman soldiers. This is SO clearly impossible that it illustrates only the fantasy in the author's mind.

The claim that this portrayal was partly due to the "parallel" of modern day "warrior children" in African nations is completely ridiculous. In this modern example, those children are armed with assault rifles and often used against unarmed civilian adults. Guns are great equalizers, but they didn't exist in 65 AD.

But I also see in the notes on this program that the script was written to highlight the similarities between current United States policies and actions and those of the Roman Emperor Nero. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE, if true. Because it's: 1, grossly inaccurate, 2, a slander, 3, a blatant seditious pandering to the Euro Group Mind, and an unforgivable insult to every American. 4, It's also disloyal to the British government, which has firmly allied itself with the United States.

It's very disappointing that the author and producers sought to make a nonsensical political point out of what might have been a truly elevating and engrossing screenplay. Reluctantly, I give Warrior Queen thumbs down.

Jack R. Noel
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I've watched Masterpiece Theatre for many years. I understand that you aim for cinematic realism. However, the recent production of Warrior Queen was disgusting and unfit for PBS. (Save it for cable, not the public airwaves.) The only indication of the show's content were the viewer codes "TV-14, S, V" at the beginning. The violence (warring, killing) was bad enough. However, there was no warning whatsoever of the brutal rape scene that lasted several minutes. Neither the PBS network, nor the local station, nor even Russell Baker, made the slightest mention or gave advance notice of this particular content. (And it is NOT acceptable for persons as young as 14.) I am over 40, and I was so appalled and disturbed, that I will never watch Masterpiece Theatre again, no matter what the content is. At least the commercial networks give a specific advance warning of graphic sexual violence (rape, attempted rape, molestation) in a program's content. The PBS network and the producers of Masterpiece Theatre have been grossly negligent and irresponsible in this matter.

Jane Smith

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
This feature was Spartacus meets Braveheart meets Gladiator and all on a budget with a seemingly limited regard for historical accuracy. Each side seemed depicted as through the worst of their opponent's prejudices sugarcoated with a thin "only defending their own way of life" veneer for the Iceni. For me this film beats the USA Channel's recent Helen of Troy project for the prize of worst ancient history film of the past year, and possibly we could go further back than last year. I cannot at this point express just how profoundly disappointed I am in the film. These actors deserved better than this. The viewing public certainly does.

Jim Thomas
Greensboro, NC

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have been an enthusiastic fan of Masterpiece Theatre for many years. However, I must say that Warrior Queen, the story of Boudica, is wholeheartedly unworthy of Masterpiece Theatre's long and well deserved reputation for quality. It was unnecessarily brutal, the dialogue in parts was preposterous, and there were deep inconsistencies with historical fact and interior logic. (The British tribes were themselves enthusiastic headhunters and slave keepers who regularly practiced human sacrifice and torture, yet we are to believe they were scandalized by Roman cruelty). Moreover, I find it rather ironic that the British creators would choose to invite outrage against the Roman empire of 2,000 years ago when their own empire vastly surpassed them in brutality, exploitation, and political intimidation of helpless and vastly more civilized peoples throughout the world until well into the last century. I fully trust that Masterpiece Theatre will return to a better quality of story in the future.

Lou Dattilo
Austin, TX

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I wonder if it is possible to produce a movie based on historical characters and events in which there is no clear good or evil side. Can such a film -- or miniseries -- be made with the main characters not so swiftly defined by their actions and words into the categories of villain or hero? Answering my own question... I guess it's too expensive...

Mike D
Manhasset, NY

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I have learned to expect better. This movie was just not believable. For all the hype and people involved, it should have included a plot. If you concoct a movie out of a few lines in history, it should leave plenty of room to create a story line that would draw a person in. This movie tried to pull us in with sex and violence. Boring. For your audience, plot helps. Two thumbs down.

Arlan Swanson
Fulda, MN

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
I recommend Rosemary Sutcliff's award-winning children's novel, Song for a Dark Queen to read more about Boudica. It's told from the perspective of the queen's harpist and a young Roman legionnaire. It's very engrossing and moving, although clearly for young adults and older.

Elizabeth Dickinson
St. Paul, MN

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