A historical drama filmed in Somerset is set to screen around the world this weekend. Becoming Elizabeth is a Tudor drama exploring the early life story of England’s most iconic queen.
Based at Bottleyard Film Studios in Bristol, the production company made the most of stunning West Country locations for the drama starring Alicia von Rittberg as the teenage orphan who later ruled England under the name of Elizabeth l.
The series has already premiered in New York and will premiere on STARZPLAY on Sunday, June 12. Venues for visually rich international drama included Wells Cathedral, the Bishops’ Palace and Gardens and Barrington Court.
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It explores the political and sexual politics of the English court after the death of King Henry VIII when his nine-year-old son Edward, played by Oliver Zetterström, takes the throne. Elizabeth, Edward and their sister Mary, played by Romola Garai, from The Hour and The Miniaturist, find themselves pawns in a game between the great families of England and the European powers who are vying for control of the country.
Designer Stevie Herbert said Wells was crucial in telling the story that takes place in the Palace of Whitehall, where everyone is trying to communicate with the king who holds the key to their power and success.
He said: “We have created a suite of spaces that increasingly approximate the King’s most private bedrooms, starting with Vicars Close in Wells, and up the steps of the Chapter House at Wells Cathedral, to the long gallery of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire and to the Bottle Yard sets, where we move from the splendor of the Great Public Hall through semi-private booths to the intimacy of the King’s Chamber.”
Alicia should feel at home playing Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn’s daughter who was beheaded by Henry VIII. In real life, she is descended from the German nobility
The young actor is considered a rising star and starred alongside Brad Pitt in the American WWII film Fury in 2014. Apparently, she was his first choice to play young German Emma who hosted an American tank crew .
Directed by British production company The Forge, Elizabeth was filmed on a network of beautifully detailed period sets built at Bottle Yard studios in Bristol between September 2020 and January 2021.
Other sites included Bristol Cathedral, Holy Cross Church and Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, Cardiff Castle, Broughton Castle in Banbury and Haddon Hall in Bakewell.
Producer Lisa Osborne said: “Bottle Yard Studios was the perfect base to become Elizabeth in the 2020/21 pandemic year. A welcoming and friendly home for our incredible Tudor ensembles – a palace, mansion and prison cell, all seamlessly integrated into two of the studios’ cavernous Tank Houses – and brilliantly located for access to the many period properties in South West England.”
Laura Aviles, Senior Film Manager (Bristol City Council) said it was a “visually rich international drama, which looks breathtaking on screen”.
She said: “The sets for Becoming Elizabeth that The Forge created at The Bottle Yard studios were utterly beautiful and historically accurate down to the smallest detail.
“At The Bottle Yard, we have space to create entire worlds, whilst being a short drive from some of the UK’s most impressive historic properties and cathedrals. This, combined with offices for supporting cinema and the bank of qualified crews in the region, makes Bristol and the West of England a consistently competitive destination for period drama filming.”
Becoming Elizabeth is a drama from STARZ, the streaming service behind The Spanish Princess and The White Princess. It has a star-studded cast and was written by award-winning TV playwright and screenwriter Anya Reiss (“Spur of the Moment,” The Acid Test).
She is co-executive producer with George Ormond of The Forge who has worked on National Treasure, Great Expectations and The e White Queen.
Becoming Elizabeth airs Sunday, June 12 at midnight on all STARZ streaming and on-demand platforms and internationally on STARZPLAY (available in the UK on Apple TV, Rakuten TV, Roku and as an add-on channel to your Amazon Prime Video account).