period: Armada: 12 Days to Save England

Armada: 12 Days to Save England

In this dramatised documentary Dan Snow explains how England came within a whisker of disaster in the summer of 1588. Anita Dobson stars as Elizabeth I.

The makeup

Bella Cruickshank was the makeup designer and explained on the BBC website how she created Elizabeth’s look:

Anita’s makeup was extensive and at its longest took four to five hours. We started by wrapping her hair to try and get it as flat as possible, this is the most challenging aspect of the make-up and takes the longest amount of time. Each section is flattened with a type of concentrated hair gel which is a bit like glue and dried into place. Next the latex bald cap was applied and stuck down, after this a thicker, silicon bald cap was put on Anita, this also had to be stuck and the edges bled off. When it was in place it was then textured and coloured to make it look like real skin. We used different types of paints and different techniques of applying them to create the lifelike illusion of freckles, age spots, veins etc.
We applied thin prosthetics to her cheeks, chin and forehead to create the illusion of pox marked skin, we used a material called probondo to do this which has a very skin-like texture and transparency. I mixed an off-white makeup base out of different materials, I gave it a bit of texture and applied a fairly think layer over Anita's face and prosthetics, I tried to keep it as realistic as I thought it would have been from my research which also informed the colour I mixed for her lips and cheeks.
The wig was dressed and placed over the bald caps and finally her false teeth were popped in. I designed these and had them made by Fangs FX. Anita had to go and have a cast made of her teeth before Elizabeth’s teeth could be sculpted and coloured.
The bald look was the same but instead of the white make-up etc I coloured the pox marks and then applied the balding wig. Anita was an absolute trooper throughout and we all loved the finished look.