period: The Virgin Queen

The Virgin Queen

This BBC mini-series tells the story of Elizabeth I (Anne Marie Duff) from the age of twenty to her death at seventy in 1603. The BBC press release claims that: ‘this regal portrait will be seeped in historical accuracy – passionate, emotional and full of the politics and social mores of the time’. This is one of two competing UK mini-series on Elizabeth: the other focusing on the old queen’s relationship with the earl of Essex features Helen Mirren.

Anne Marie’s transformation is as dramatic as that of some of her predecessors in the role: besides the prosthetics and period makeup her hairline has been shaved and her eyebrows and lashes bleached. She commented:

I wanted to be a woman of her various ages and have integrity within it, not be doing an impression of something … I knew that with the makeup and costume I would look good – the prosthetics not only looked amazing but they gave my face restrictions that it wouldn’t normally have – and we worked on obvious things like vocal differences and the physicality … What I wanted to do was to try and find an old brittle bones approach … I hope I’ve achieved that. I kept thinking in my head, ‘Why on earth have they cast one actress, not two?’ but I just went for it and I hope that it works.

The makeup

Neill Gorton was responsible for the prosthetic makeup; Lauge Voigt – Lauge also sculpted the old Elizabeth’s stomach and breasts for her dressing-room confrontation with Essex – and Vicky Bancroft did the on-set application. Karen Hartley-Thomas was makeup designer; Laura [Loz] Schiavo was makeup artist; Maureen McGill & Anna Morena were hair stylist/makeup artists. FangsFX provided the prosthetic dentures.