New drama 'Becoming Elizabeth' follows the early life of Queen Elizabeth I

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Saturday: Becoming Elizabeth (Channel 4, 9.15pm)

Netflix hit The Crown proved that the Windsors have plenty of dramatic potential, but it seems that when it comes to royalty, TV writers can’t shake their fascination with the Tudors.

The latest series to explore their story is the drama Becoming Elizabeth, which follows the early life of Queen Elizabeth I.

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The first episode begins with the aftermath of the death of Henry VIII, as his son is proclaimed Edward VI. However, given that the new king is only nine years old, there are still plenty of people vying for power, and Elizabeth, Edward and their older sister Mary are potential pawns in the game. But can Elizabeth learn to be a player?

Queen Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I

It seems that taking on the role was something of a learning experience for actress Alicia von Rittberg. Although she comes from an aristocratic background herself, the German actress was surprised when she was invited to send in a taped audition – in fact, she claims she thought it was a mistake as she’d assumed her nationality would rule her out.

It was only when she was called in for a face-to-face meeting that she accepted she was being seriously considered.

Alicia told W magazine: “I got the call for the test screening, and that’s the first time I actually met everyone and realised how little they questioned the fact that I am German.

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“They were just like, ‘Well, we think you can do it. You’re going to have some dialect coaching, and we’re not worried at all.’ That really helped me to believe in myself, and I think that’s when I realized it could happen. When I got the part, it was still absolutely surreal.”

By contrast, one of her co-stars definitely feels a geographical connection to her character. Becoming Elizabeth features rising star Bella Ramsey, who was seen earlier this year in the acclaimed The Last of Us, plays Lady Jane Grey.

She told Cinemablend: “Funnily enough, Lady Jane Grey is someone that I was quite familiar with, because she lived like literally 15 minutes down the road from me. The remains of her place of residence are still intact, so I actually wanted to do my audition there. Quite funny!”

Bella added: “So I knew of her quite well. I guess I just learned more of the history and all the links between her and the rest of the royals and the people in court, because I’ve never really learned that before. I’d known a bit in history lessons, but I hadn’t really paid attention. It was good to be able to learn for myself.”

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For anyone who didn’t grow up next to Lady Jane Grey’s home, the drama should offer a new insight into this turbulent period in history. And if that isn’t enough to convince you to tune in, there’s the great cast, which also includes Romola Garai as Mary, Tom Cullen as Thomas Seymour, and Jessica Raine as Henry VIII’s last wife, Catherine Parr.