From Russia with love... Catherine The Great series returns to Hatfield for season two of period drama

Douglas Hodge as Velementov, Elle Fanning as Catherine and Sacha Dhawan as Orlo in season two of The Great.

Douglas Hodge as Velementov, Elle Fanning as Catherine and Sacha Dhawan as Orlo in the first episode of season two of The Great. - Credit: Hulu / Supplied by Starzplay.

Viewers will see Hatfield House and its grounds on screen again in season two of The Great, which stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.

The second series of the Golden Globes and Emmy-nominated drama loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great is now available to watch in America on subscription streaming service Hulu.

Elle Fanning as Catherine in the first episode of the second series of The Great.

Elle Fanning as Catherine in the first episode of the second series of The Great. - Credit: Hulu / Supplied by Starzplay.

The "occasionally true" satirical period romp can be seen in the UK on streaming platform Starzplay, which is available via Amazon Prime Video, from December 5. Huzzah! 


What is The Great about?

The Great plays fast and loose with facts – it's most certainly not a documentary.

Described as "a modern love story that incorporates historical facts, occasionally", the pilot episode of The Great was partly filmed on location at Hatfield House and in the Hertfordshire estate's gardens and grounds.

The Jacobean mansion was used for interior scenes in the first episode, entitled The Great, with the Marble Hall and the gold-ceilinged Long Gallery among the rooms seen on screen. The Old Palace banqueting hall was also used for the couple's wedding.

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Once the 10-part first series about the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history was given the green light, interior sets were created at 3 Mills Studios in East London.

Location filming of series one also took place around the country at Castle Howard and Hever Castle, as well as in Italy at the Royal Palace of Caserta.

Filming of season two of the bawdy romp started last year, with strict Covid protocols in place during the lengthy nine-month shoot.

Season two of The Great starring Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter

Season two of The Great starring Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter can be seen on Starzplay from December 5. - Credit: Starzplay

Executive producer Elle Fanning, who plays Empress Catherine, posted on Instagram: "Our crew pulled off the unimaginable through a raging pandemic, bringing their abundance of talent and diligence over a whopping 9 months.

"Season 2 is a true showcase of their skill. And quite literally would not have happened without them. It is easy to see the effortless opulence in our show, but it takes a copious amount of effort.

"The time and thought spent crafting each prop, sculpting every wig, painting murals, lighting sets, designing FOOD etc. is a wonder to behold.

"I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to watch their brilliance in action. Raise your vodka shot to the creative forces behind THE GREAT!"

Phoebe Fox as Marial, Elle Fanning as Catherine, and Belinda Bromilow as Aunt Elizabeth in The Great.

Phoebe Fox as Marial, Elle Fanning as Catherine, and Belinda Bromilow as Aunt Elizabeth in the third episode of the second series of The Great. - Credit: Hulu / Supplied by Starzplay.


Where was The Great filmed?

The cast and production crew of The Great pitched up at the Hatfield House estate for filming in November 2020 and shot scenes in the gardens and parkland.

The Great crew returned to Hatfield House in February of this year for more location filming.

Scenes were filmed on the South Front of Hatfield House, this time when there was snow on the ground in Hertfordshire.

As well as Hatfield House, location filming of the second series of The Great also took place at Hampton Court Palace.

The stages at 3 Mills Studios were once again used for the exquisite interior sets. 


Who stars in The Great?

The second series of the rude and satirical period drama picks up where season one left off with Catherine – played by Maleficent film star Elle Fanning – pregnant with Emperor Peter's child, having attempted a coup.

Mad Max: Fury Road and X-Men: First Class star Nicholas Hoult plays Emperor Peter.

Hoult also featured in the Oscar-winning The Favourite, which was largely filmed on location at Hatfield House and from the same writer, Tony McNamara.

Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter in the second episode of the season two of The Great.

Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter in the second episode of season two of The Great. - Credit: Hulu / Supplied by Starzplay.

The second series of The Great once again features Phoebe Fox as Marial, Douglas Hodge as General Velementov, and Sacha Dhawan as Orlo.

Adam Godley as Archie, Bohemian Rhapsody and Midsomer Murders star Gwilym Lee as Peter's friend Grigor, Charity Wakefield (Georgina), Bayo Gbadamosi (Arkady), Florence Keith-Roach (Tatyana) and Belinda Bromilow as Aunt Elizabeth complete the returning main cast members from season one.

Joining the cast in series two of the anti-historical drama is Sex Education, The X-Files and The Crown favourite Gillian Anderson as Catherine's mother, Joanna.

Joanna (Gillian Anderson) and Catherine (Elle Fanning) in episode 7 of series two of The Great.

Joanna (Gillian Anderson) and daughter Catherine (Elle Fanning) in episode 7 of series two of The Great. - Credit: Gareth Gatrell/Hulu


Episode guide to season two of The Great?

In season two of The Great Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own — but if she thought couping her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of ‘liberating’ a country that doesn’t want to be.

Empress Catherine battles her court, her team, and even her own mother in a bid to bring the enlightenment to Russia.

Season two of The Great stars Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter

Season two of The Great starring Elle Fanning as Catherine and Nicholas Hoult as Peter can be seen on Starzplay from December 5. - Credit: Starzplay

Episode one, Heads It's Me, starts four months after Catherine's coup against her husband.

A pregnant Catherine is gaining the upper hand in her war against Peter.

The fact that he is deeply in love with Catherine and their unborn child, Paul, does little to dissuade her from taking his throne.

Nicholas Hoult as Peter and Douglas Hodge as Velementov in the third episode of the season two of The Great.

Nicholas Hoult as Peter and Douglas Hodge as Velementov in the third episode of season two of The Great. - Credit: Hulu / Supplied by Starzplay.

Catherine, Orlo and Velementov begin their rule of Russia in the second episode and unexpected obstacles appear for her.

Peter is on a journey of self-improvement under house arrest but convinces Catherine to let him attend her coronation and hand over his crown.

Catherine’s grief over the loss of lover Leo during the coup finally catches up with her in season two, episode three, Alone At Last.

Peter’s part in Leo’s death, and the discovery that he just murdered a noble, causes Catherine to lock Peter in his apartments with only his mummified mother for company.

Catherine's mother Joanna (Gillian Anderson) arrives in episode seven.

Catherine’s mother Joanna (Gillian Anderson) in The Great.

Catherine’s mother Joanna (Gillian Anderson) in The Great. - Credit: Gareth Gatrell/Hulu

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