Episode guide to new Channel 4 series The Great

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great in Channel 4 series The Great

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great in Channel 4 series The Great - Credit: Hulu / TM & © 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

Comedy drama series The Great, which was partly filmed at Hatfield House, started on Channel 4 last Sunday, January 3.

It is also available to watch on All 4, Channel 4's on-demand service.

A Russian shooting party in the woods

Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Emperor of Russia in The Great - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

The 10-part Emmy nominated satirical costume drama is loosely based on Catherine the Great’s story and stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult in the lead roles of Catherine and Peter, Emperor of Russia respectively.

The Great opts for a comedic and crude take on Catherine's rise to power, rather than being an accurate history lesson, and the risqué Russian romp has been described by makers as "an occasionally true story..."

Peter, Emperor of Russia holds court

Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Emperor of Russia in a scene from The Great filmed in the Marble Hall at Hatfield House - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

Parts of the pilot episode, which sees Catherine marry Peter, were filmed on location in the grounds of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, with scenes shot in the Long Gallery, Old Palace, Marble Hall and West Garden. 

Catherine the Great lying flat out in the garden

Douglas Hodge as General Velementov and Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great in the first episode of The Great in a scene filmed in the West Garden of Hatfield House - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

Spoiler alert: Here’s an episode guide to season one of The Great, which has already aired on American on-demand subscription channel Hulu, and on StarzPlay in the UK.

Description: Episodic Photo - Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great Actor: Elle Fanning

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great in a scene filmed in the Marble Hall at Hatfield House - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

1 - The Great 
In 1761, Catherine (Elle Fanning) travels to Russia and becomes the Empress by marrying the Emperor of Russia, Peter (Nicholas Hoult). 

Catherine the Great and the Archbishop walking along a corridor

Filming of The Great in the Long Gallery of Hatfield House with Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great and Adam Godley as Archie. - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

With hopes of marrying a great love, Catherine soon realises Peter is a selfish idiot who stands against everything she values. 

Peter, Emperor of Russia, and Catherine the Great at banquet

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great and Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Emperor of Russia - Credit: Nick Wall / Hulu / 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

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She is introduced to palace life by her servant, Marial (Phoebe Fox), who was once a lady of the court herself but was reduced to serfdom when her family was stripped of its status.

Catherine meets Peter's priest and confidante, Archie (Adam Godley), who signifies the dark side of the church's influence on the crown.

Catherine the Great and her servant watch a building go up in flames

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great and Phoebe Fox as servant Marial in The Great - Credit: Nick Wall / Hulu / 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

Catherine is horrified to discover the open secret that Peter regularly lays with Georgina (Charity Wakefield), the wife of his best friend, Grigor (Gwilym Lee).

Catherine befriends Count Orlo (Sacha Dhawan) and plans to turn an unused palace building into a school to educate the women of the court.

Catherine the Great watches a building in flames

Catherine the Great, played by Elle Fanning, watches as her plans go up in flames in The Great - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

Peter, discovering Catherine's intentions, burns the building to the ground. Catherine is feeling hopeless and verging on suicide when Marial presents her with an alternative path – to overthrow Peter. 

Catherine the Great sitting by a tree with her servant

Marial (Phoebe Fox) and Catherine (Elle Fanning) in The Great - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.


2 - The Beard 
Catherine takes her first steps toward a coup. Taking advice from Marial, she attempts to seduce and recruit palace intellectual Count Orlo (Sacha Dhawan). 

Russian nobles in court

Sacha Dhawan as Count Orlo in a scene from the first series of The Great filmed in the Marble Hall of Hatfield House - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

But it's an awkward disaster – she blurts out her plans to him as he flees.

However, after seeing Peter’s brutal treatment of local nobles and unwillingness to listen, Orlo decides to join Catherine’s coup. 

Peter, Emperor of Russia and Catherine the Great walking through woodland

Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Emperor of Russia and Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great in episode one of The Great - Credit: Nick Wall/Hulu

3 - And You Sir, Are No Peter the Great 
Catherine, Orlo and Marial continue their coup planning. They try to recruit an unhappy military general, Velementov, for their cause during palace celebrations honouring Peter’s late father, Peter the Great. 

Peter, noting Catherine’s unhappiness at court, gifts Catherine a sterile lover, Leo (Sebastian De Souza).

She’s hesitant at first, but Leo manages to charm her. 

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great sitting on a bed

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

4 - Moscow Mule 
Catherine tries to manage her reputation at court and her relationship with Leo, both of which distract her from the coup. 

Meanwhile, an influential Patriarch of the church dies, and a new one must be chosen. 

Orlo sees an opportunity to try and influence Peter in the decision, and Archie (Adam Godley) makes moves. 

5 - War and Vomit 
As the war with Sweden continues to rage, Catherine and Aunt Elizabeth (Belinda Bromilow) visit the military at the Russian front. Seeing the soldiers reminds Catherine of her goal to rule Russia differently. 

Grigor (Gwilym Lee) struggles with Peter and Georgina’s relationship and poisons Peter to end it. When Peter falls ill, Velementov, Orlo and Marial all try to influence Catherine’s steps toward takeover as Peter’s life hangs in the balance. 

6 - Parachute 
Peter has a new lease on life after his near-death experience. 

Peter, Emperor of Russia sitting on a chair with his feet on the table

Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Emperor of Russia - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

He is open to Catherine’s progressive ideas of introducing art and science to court and wants to focus on an heir.

Orlo tries to figure out who poisoned Peter and faces demons of his own. 

7 - A Pox on Hope 
Catherine feels optimistic about peaceful coexistence with Peter and their increasing chemistry.

When smallpox breaks out in the servant’s quarters, however, Peter reverts to his old ways. Meanwhile, Leo and Catherine’s relationship suffers and Georgina (Charity Wakefield) misses Peter. 

8 - Meatballs at the Dacha 
Catherine’s political abilities are tested when she’s given an opportunity to travel abroad with Peter and Velementov to discuss ending the war with Swedish king. 

Velementov finally sees the potential of her leadership and decides to support the coup. 

Back at the palace, Leo wants to leave court. Marial tries to keep him there by telling him about the coup. 

Elle Fanning as Catherine the Great wearing her crown

The Great starring Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning can be seen on Channel 4 from January 3 - Credit: 2020 ViacomCBS All Rights Reserved.

9 - Love Hurts 
Tensions mount as Catherine, Orlo, Velementov, Leo and Marial try to get regional counts on board with the coup. 

A few of the men end up killed. When a body is discovered later, Peter decides to torture everyone at the palace to find the murderous traitors. Marial buckles under the pressure and confides in Archie about Catherine’s plans. Catherine realises she is pregnant. 

10 - The Beaver’s Nose
Catherine’s decides to move forward with the coup on her birthday. 

Peter isn’t so easily overcome and holds Leo hostage as collateral. In exchange for a return to her status, Marial betrays Catherine to Peter and tells him that she is pregnant. 

Catherine realises that the only chance for a greater Russia is to fight, without Leo. The battle begins.

  • The Great can be seen on Channel 4 on Sundays at 9pm, with episodes also available on All 4.


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