Becoming Elizabeth dramatizes Elizabeth I’s teenage years before she came to power, and after a successful run in the US, the show is coming to Channel 4 in the UK.
Queen Elizabeth I has been the subject of many TV shows and movies, including Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age featuring Cate Blanchett and Elizabeth I starring Helen Mirren, though most content chronicles her years on the throne.
Anya Reiss, who previously served as a writer on EastEnders and the UK TV series Ackley Bridge, is behind Becoming Elizabeth as the executive producer and writer.
Here is everything that you need to know about Becoming Elizabeth.
How to watch Becoming Elizabeth
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 is an eight-part drama and starts in the UK on Saturday, July 15 on Channel 4 at 9.15 pm. You will be able to catch up on Channel4.com after the episodes have aired.
Now that Becoming Elizabeth season 1 has wrapped up in the US there are a handful of ways for viewers to catch up with the series if they missed an episode or from the start. All episodes of Becoming Elizabeth season 1 are available to stream on Starz.com and the Starz app with a Starz subscription (free trial is available). Starz is also a premium channel add-on with a number of different streaming services, including Hulu, Prime Video, The Roku Channel, Sling TV and YouTube TV.
Will there a Becoming Elizabeth season 2?
Becoming Elizabeth fans are still waiting to here if there is going to be a season 2, as Starz has not announced if the historical drama has been renewed or cancelled at this time.
What is the Becoming Elizabeth plot?
As we mentioned, while many previous projects about Elizabeth I have followed her reign as queen, Becoming Elizabeth portrays her younger years and all of the things that happened that would make her the ruler she became. Here is the official synopsis from Starz:
"Becoming Elizabeth is the fascinating story of the early life of England’s most iconic Queen. Long before she ascended the throne, young Elizabeth Tudor was an orphaned teenager who became embroiled in the political and sexual politics of the English court. With no clear heir, the death of King Henry the VIII sets into motion a dangerous scramble for power. His surviving children find themselves pawns in a game between the great families of England and the powers of Europe who vie for control of the country.
"Elizabeth struggles to control her own destiny and take real power as the men around her attempt to claim her sovereignty. Her fascinating and factual journey to secure the crown is filled with scheming, betrayal and illicit relationships that threaten to bring forth her demise at a time in which every man or woman of the court is on the wheel of fortune, which may take them to a position of great power one moment, or the executioner’s block the next."
Becoming Elizabeth episodes
Here are the synopses for all of the Becoming Elizabeth episodes...
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 1, "Keep Your Knife Bright"
"Following the death of Henry VIII, his three children; Mary, Elizabeth and Edward are now pawns in a dangerous game as the English court is plunged into a race for control of the new England they find themselves in."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 2, "You Cannot Keep the Birds from Flying Over Your Head"
"Christmas at court, and a controversial masque leaves Protestant Edward and Catholic Mary at odds. Elizabeth finds herself in the middle as Mary demands she come live with her."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 3, "Either Learn or Be Silent"
"The Lord Protector's plan for peace between the siblings only causes Catherine and Thomas to accelerate their own, using Elizabeth's 15th birthday as cover."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 4, "Lighten Our Darkness"
"The aftermath of the party has left Elizabeth alone and amongst strangers, and terrified of anyone discovering the truth of what went on in Chelsea."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 5, "Necessity Compels Me to Plague You"
"Elizabeth's successful return to court and favour is threatened as she is approached with a reckless plan."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 6, "What Cannot Be Cured"
"Both Elizabeth and Somerset face the consequences of Thomas’ actions whilst Mary finds that she is the only family that the king can now trust."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 7, "To Laugh, To Lie, To Flatter, To Face"
"There is a new Lord Protector and Mary and Elizabeth both find themselves at the mercy of the new regime and their zealous little brother."
Becoming Elizabeth season 1 episode 8, "To Death We Must Stoop"
"The king is sick and the court that made an enemy of Catholics now face the possibility of being ruled by one as Mary rides to Whitehall. Mary and Elizabeth are briefly reunited in their love for their sick brother."
Becoming Elizabeth trailer
Get a preview of all the palace intrigue — sex, violence and otherwise — that highlights Becoming Elizabeth with the official trailer for the show directly below.
Who is in the Becoming Elizabeth cast?
Will the show depicting Queen Elizabeth’s rise to power also serve as a major breakout for actress Alicia von Rittberg? The German actress has starred in some big name projects like the Brad Pitt-led World War II action movie Fury and the Einstein iteration of National Geographic’s Genius, though both in supporting roles. Becoming Elizabeth is von Rittberg’s biggest lead role to date.
Also in the cast alongside von Rittberg are Tom Cullen (Invasion, Downton Abbey) as Thomas Seymour; Oliver Zetterstrӧm (War of the Worlds) as Edward VI; and Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Jane Grey.
Here is the full principal cast of Becoming Elizabeth:
- Alicia von Rittberg as Elizabeth I
- Romola Garai as Mary Tudor
- Jessica Raine as Catherine Parr
- Tom Cullen as Thomas Seymour
- John Heffernan as Duke of Somerset
- Jamie Blackley as Robert Dudley
- Alexandra Gilbreath as Kat Ashley
- Jamie Parker as John Dudley
- Leo Bill as Henry Grey
- Oliver Zetterstrӧm as Edward
- Bella Ramsey as Lady Jane Grey
- Ekow Quartey as Pedro
- Alex Macqueen as Stephen Gardiner
- Olivier Huband as Ambassador Guzman
Romola Garai interview
Becoming Elizabeth star Romola Garai (Mary Tudor) sat down with What to Watch sister publication TV Times to talk about the series. Here are some brief excerpts:
What appealed to you about this role?
RG: "I’d got to a stage in my career where I was like, 'I’m really concerned about doing more costume dramas because I’ve done so many of them!'
"But then I read the script and [playwright] Anya Reiss is a really good writer and her voice was alive through the whole thing. And when I started reading about Mary, I discovered she was a really interesting Queen, so the role was attractive on that level as well."
The story of Elizabeth I has been told on screen many times – what makes this drama different?
RG: "It’s a really appetizing mixture of historical fact with excitement, sex and violence. If [2015 BBC2 drama] Wolf Hall, with its serious history is at one end, and at the other you have an all-entertainment version, Becoming Elizabeth is a satisfying mix of both.
"And everybody loves stories about young women fighting against social rules and obligations. It’s a story about a young woman trying to control her own destiny in a time when she could quite literally be murdered at any moment by a variety of different people. The stakes are incredibly high."
Is there potential for another season?
RG: "Yes. That’s the great thing about history, it just runs and runs. I would love to do more. Mary had a really interesting and un-dramatized reign where she tried to lead the country back to Catholicism and also fell in love with Philip II of Spain. Her marriage was very sad, she tried to have a child and wasn’t able to. It’s a really powerful story that I hope we get to tell."
How to watch Becoming Elizabeth
Becoming Elizabeth is a Starz original series and as such there are a handful of ways for viewers to watch it.
For US audiences, Starz is a premium cable channel carried as part of many traditional pay-TV cable subscriptions. The network is also available as a premium option for live TV streaming services, including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. Viewers can also sign up for Starz directly, which is then available through the Starz app on mobile and TV streaming devices, as well as online.
UK viewers wanting to watch Becoming Elizabeth can do so through Channel 4 or stream on Channel4.com and Starzplay, which is also a standalone service that provides access to Starz content as well as being available as an add-on channel to select other streaming services, including Prime Video.
Get the What to Watch Newsletter
The latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.