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Helen Mirren cast as Russia’s Catherine the Great in new TV mini-series

Helen Mirren cast as Russia's Catherine the Great in new TV mini-series
Helen Mirren. Image: Dick Thomas Johnson under a CC license

26 January 2018

British actress Helen Mirren has been chosen to star in a new four-part TV drama on Russian ruler Catherine the Great.

Written by Nigel Williams and directed by Philip Martin, the show — simply titled Catherine the Great — will focus on the end of Catherine’s reign and her affair with Russian general Grigory Potemkin.

“I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power,” Mirren said. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name.”

Catherine’s reign from 1762—1796 is considered by many to be the Golden Age of the Russian empire. The monarch, who took the throne after her husband Peter III was assassinated, was a renowned patron of the arts and The Enlightenment, pushing for European-style reforms and establishing Europe’s first state-funded higher education institution for women.

The 18th-century monarch isn’t the only Russian ruler to capture TV producers’ imaginations, with online streaming service Netflix announcing a new programme on the fall of the Romanov dynasty.

Catherine the Great will air on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK and Europe.