The Great coming to Channel 4 in January
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With filming having started on the second series of The Great, Channel 4 has confirmed when the first season will be screened in 2021.
From the Oscar-nominated writer of The Favourite, Tony McNamara, the genre-bending, anti-historical ride through 18th century Russia will be shown on terrestrial TV in the UK in early January, C4 has confirmed.
The first series of the satirical, comedic drama is set to arrive on Channel 4 on Sunday, January 3, 2021.
Episode one of The Great is due to be screened at 9pm – straight after The Great New Year Bake Off.
Scenes from the pilot episode were shot at Hatfield House in late 2018, and the production crew returned to the Hertfordshire stately home last month to film scenes for the second season.
The series loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great has already aired in America on streaming service Hulu, winning a couple of Emmy nominations earlier in the year, and on-demand service StarzPlay in the UK and Europe.
The Great stars American actress Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great, and X-Men and Mad Max: Fury Road’s Nicholas Hoult as Peter, the Emperor of Russia.
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As well as playing the lead role in The Great, Elle Fanning – previously best known for Princess Aurora in Disney fantasy films Maleficent and sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – is also one of the series’ executive producers.
The first season cast also includes Gwilym Lee, who played Queen guitarist Brian May in musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and was also DS Charlie Nelson in popular ITV detective drama Midsomer Murders.
From Civic Center Media and MRC Television, scenes from the Emmy-nominated pilot episode of The Great were filmed at Hatfield House in December 2018.
Among the rooms used for filming were the Marble Hall and the Long Gallery.
The first episode, entitled The Great, also features scenes shot on location in the West Garden of the Hertfordshire stately home, with Elle Fanning filmed near the garden’s fountain.
For those that haven’t seen the show yet, The Great is a 10-part drama about the rise of Catherine the Great, from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history.
It is the fictionalised, fun and anachronistic story of an idealistic, romantic young girl (Elle Fanning), who arrives in Russia for an arranged marriage to the mercurial Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult).
Hoping for love and sunshine, she finds instead a dangerous, depraved, backward world that she resolves to change.
All she has to do is kill her husband, beat the church, baffle the military and get the court onside!
Tearing up the history books, it’s a modern love story that incorporates historical facts – occasionally – and encompasses the many roles Catherine played over her lifetime as lover, teacher, ruler, friend, and fighter.
The first episode of the dark and often crude comedy is set in 1761. Catherine travels to Russia and becomes the Empress by marrying the Emperor of Russia, Peter.
However, Catherine soon realises Peter is a selfish brat who stands against everything she values. She is feeling hopeless and verging on suicide when her servant, Marial, presents her with an alternative path – to overthrow Peter.
Along with Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult and Gwilym Lee, who plays Emperor Peter’s best friend Grigor, the first series also stars Phoebe Fox (Eye in the Sky) as servant Marial.
Adam Godley (The Umbrella Academy, Breaking Bad) plays Archie, the Archbishop, Charity Wakefield (Bounty Hunters, Wolf Hall) is Georgina Dymova, and Douglas Hodge (Joker, Black Mirror) plays General Velementov, who appears in episode one in scenes with Elle Fanning shot in Hatfield House’s gardens.
Completing the main cast members are Sacha Dhawan (After Earth) as Count Orlo, Sebastian de Souza (Skins, Medici), Bayo Gbadamosi (Doctor Who) and Belinda Bromilow (Doctor Doctor).
The Great isn’t the first major period production starring Nicholas Hoult to be filmed on location at Hatfield House.
Hoult, as Harley, also filmed scenes of The Favourite alongside Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman at Lord Salisbury’s Jacobean mansion in the spring of 2017.
The Favourite was also written by The Great’s writer and executive producer Tony McNamara.
As well as Hatfield House, locations used for season one of The Great include Castle Howard in Yorkshire and the Royal Palace of Caserta near Naples, Italy, while production stages were set up at 3 Mills Studios in London for lots of the interior scenes.