Becoming Elizabeth: Jessica Raine and Tom Cullen star in historical drama exploring the origin story of young Elizabeth Tudor

Alicia von Rittberg plays Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth I in a STARZ Original about the young Elizabeth Tudor before she ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth I.

By Sophia Moir Updated: 10 June 2022 - 10.19am

Alicia von Rittberg and Tom Cullen star in Becoming Elizabeth as Elizabeth I and Thomas Seymour

Hit Play above to watch the cast of Becoming Elizabeth talk Anya Reiss' modern script and filming intimate scenes 

A new historical drama is set to give royal fans a fascinating look at the untold story of the early life of her namesake, and one of England’s most iconic monarchs, Elizabeth Tudor, before she became Queen Elizabeth I.

Becoming Elizabeth, a STARZ Original, boasts a cast including Alicia von Rittberg (Fury), Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife) and Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) who all play real-life characters from Tudor history. 

Here, we reveal everything we know so far about Becoming Elizabeth, including the confirmed release date, plot, cast and characters list, trailer, and more.

Read more: Exclusive Secrets from the Set of Becoming Elizabeth > 

What is the release date of Becoming Elizabeth?

Becoming Elizabeth will premiere on Sunday 12 June on STARZPLAY.

There are eight episodes of the STARZ Original series and they will be released weekly on Sundays.

STARZPLAY is available as an add-on channel to Prime Video.

What is STARZPLAY on Prime Video and how do I watch it?

Boost your TV with Prime Video

Catch the all new Rings of Power as well as Clarkson's Farm and The Grand Tour,  plus sports documentaries like All or Nothing and Rooney.

What are the Becoming Elizabeth episode summaries and synopses?

Episode 1: Keep Your Knife Bright - June 12, 2022

With Henry VIII dead, his children; Mary, Elizabeth and Edward find themselves pawns in a game for control of this new England.

Episode 2: You Cannot Keep the Birds From Flying Over Your Head - June 19, 2022

Elizabeth is caught between her Catholic sister Mary, and Catherine and Thomas, as Mary demands she leave and side with her against their brother Edward. 

Episode 3: Either Learn or Be Silent - June 26, 2022

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. 

Episode 4: Lighten Our Darkness - July 3, 2022

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. 

Episode 5: Necessity Compels Me to Plague You - July 10, 2022

Elizabeth’s successful return to court and favour is threatened as Thomas tries to rebuild his life and approaches her with a reckless plan. 

Episode 6: What Cannot Be Cured- July 17, 2022

Both Elizabeth and Somerset face the consequences of Thomas’ actions, while Mary finds that she is the only family member that the king can now trust.

Episode 7: To Laugh, To Lie, To Flatter, To Face- July 31, 2022

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.

Episode 8: To Death We Must Stoop - August 7, 2022

With the king sick, court fears he will be succeeded by one of his sisters, but which sister?

What’s the plot of Becoming Elizabeth?

Long before she ascended the throne, young Elizabeth Tudor (Alicia von Rittberg) was an orphaned teenager who became embroiled in the political and sexual politics of the English court. 

The death of her father King Henry VIII set in motion a dangerous scramble for power as his nine-year-old son Edward VI (Oliver Zetterström) is crowned King, and he and his half-sisters become pawns for the great families of England and the powers of Europe as they vie for control of the country. 

To survive, the young Elizabeth Tudor must learn the rules quickly at a time in which every man and woman of the court is on a wheel of fortune which may take them to a position of great power one moment, or the executioner’s block the next. 

Judgements are rendered quickly, and no one is safe. 

Who’s in the cast of Becoming Elizabeth?

The main cast are:

  • Alicia von Rittberg (Fury, Charité, Genius) as Elizabeth I.

  • Romola Garai (The Hour, The Miniaturist, Atonement) as Mary I.

  • Jessica Raine (The Informer, Line of Duty, Call The Midwife) as Catherine Parr.

  • Tom Cullen (Weekend, Black Mirror, Downton Abbey) as Thomas Seymour.

  • Jamie Blackley (Greed, If I Stay, The Last Kingdom) as Robert Dudley.

  • Oliver Zetterström (The Midnight Gang, White House Farm) as Edward I.

  • Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones, The Worst Witch) as Lady Jane Grey.

  • Jamie Parker (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.

Further cast members include John Heffernan as Duke of Somerset, Jacob Avery as Guildford Dudley, Alexandra Gilbreath as Kat Ashley, Leo Bill as Henry Grey, Ekow Quartey as Pedro, Alex Macqueen as Stephen Gardiner, Olivier Huband as Ambassador Guzman, and Robert Whitelock as Robert Kett.

Hit Play below to watch the cast of Becoming Elizabeth talk playing real-life characters, Tudor costumes and epic sets

Who are the historical characters in Becoming Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth I - Played by Alicia von Rittberg

Queen Elizabeth I in Becoming Elizabeth STARZPLAY

Also known as Elizabeth Tudor, and the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I is the second of Henry VIII’s three children, born to his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She’s a teenager who thinks she is an adult, and old enough to play the games that she is thrown into after the death of her father. 

She wants to keep her siblings together, but it proves an impossible task as she treads a delicate path through their opposing religious views. Her brother Edward VI and sister Mary I are not the only people pulling Elizabeth in different directions.

Elizabeth’s love for her stepmother Catherine Parr is tested by Catherine’s new husband Thomas Seymour and his flirtatious attention, which both flatters and scares her.

Queen Mary I - Played by Romola Garai

Becoming Elizabeth Romola Garai as Mary STARZPLAY

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor (and Bloody Mary by her opponents), is Henry VIII’s eldest child and the daughter of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. 

Mary is equally devoted to her God and her little brother Edward VI who is now King of England. It cleaves her in two that her twin devotions are entirely incompatible. For if she honours one, she dishonours the other.

Catherine Parr - Played by Jessica Raine

Becoming Elizabeth Jessica Raine as Catherine Parr STARZPLAY

Catherine Parr is Henry VIII’s widow and the last of his six wives. A clever, educated woman, she played the part of Regent once during Henry’s illness and bitterly resents that she is not able to play it again. 

As the young King Edward VI ascends to the throne, Catherine is left on the sidelines, but is at last free to pursue her former lover, the new king’s uncle Thomas Seymour.

Thomas Seymour - Played by Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen as Thomas Seymour STARZPLAY

Thomas Seymour is simultaneously charming, playful and funny whilst being hot-headed, ambitious and possibly dangerous. He expects the spoils that ought naturally to fall to the King’s uncle. 

His ambitions are ruined by the schemes of his older brother Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, who quickly seizes the position of Lord protector to the new boy King. 

He marries his former lover, the dowager queen Catherine Parr, for both power and love but then his eye falls on the teenage Elizabeth and a whole new pathway to power opens up in front of him.

Robert Dudley - Played by Jamie Blackley

Becoming Elizabeth Jamie Blackley as Robert Dudley STARZPLAY

John Dudley’s eldest and favourite son, and Elizabeth’s friend from childhood. Working as the king’s groom, from being enamoured with court life he slowly starts to realise quite how dangerous a world he has been born into.

Duke of Somerset - Played by John Heffernan

Quick off the block when the old King dies, Somerset loses no time in claiming the position of Lord Protector for himself. He is to all intents and purposes the de facto monarch during Edward’s childhood and teenage years. Humorless and ruthless he is the opposite of his younger brother Thomas.

Kat Ashley - Played by Alexandra Gilbreath

The nearest thing Elizabeth has to a mother since Anne Boleyn’s execution when she was only two. A fountain of both sage and reckless advice, sometimes a scandalous gossip, Kat remains by Elizabeth’s side until Elizabeth falls from grace and her service is no longer required.

John Dudley - Played by Jamie Parker

John Dudley is Somerset’s right-hand man on the Privy Council, his fixer and enforcer and oldest friend.  A family man, seemingly the friendlier face of the pair but then a darker side begins to emerge.

Henry Grey - Played by Leo Bill

A senior member of England’s council, Henry is related by marriage to the Tudor line and never misses an opportunity to remind everyone. His daughter Jane is next in line after Elizabeth and Mary, and Henry has a plan to bring her closer still.

King Edward VI - Played by Oliver Zetterström

Henry’s youngest, but as a boy, the only one that matters in the brutal wars of Tudor succession. Determined to not be seen as a child, despite the overbearing Lord Protector and to bring his country into a new Protestant age, by force if necessary.

Lady Jane Grey - Played by Bella Ramsey

Lady Jane is brought under Catherine and Thomas’s wing, as part of their and her father’s plan to marry her to the king. Young, serious, clever, and staunchly Protestant, she has a clear sense of her own place in the world: as near to the throne as she can get without sitting in the king’s lap. 

Pedro - Played by Ekow Quartey

A black Spanish mercenary who sells his sword to the man (or woman) he thinks most worthy of it. He respects and values his friendship with Somerset and Dudley, men he has met on the battlefield many a time before.

Stephen Gardiner - Played by Alex Macqueen

A Catholic bishop who begins the series having been confined to the Tower for his reluctance to accept England's shift to Protestantism. A wily politician devoted to three things; the princess Mary, the restoration of the Catholic faith and to keeping himself alive during the process.

Ambassador Guzman - Played by Olivier Huband

The arrogant and cunning Spanish ambassador, one of the pillars of Mary’s alternative court, the face of Mary’s overseas allies.

Who created Becoming Elizabeth?

Becoming Elizabeth is created by Anya Reiss, who also serves as an executive producer. She’s a British playwright and screenwriter who has written several episodes of EastEnders and Ackley Bridge. 

Is there a trailer for Becoming Elizabeth?

Yes, you can watch the Becoming Elizabeth full-length trailer below:

Where was Becoming Elizabeth filmed?

Becoming Elizabeth was filmed on location throughout the UK as well as on period sets built at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios.

Locations for the eight-part series include: 

  • Wells Cathedral and The Bishops Palace & Gardens in Wells
  • Barrington Court in Somerset
  • Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire
  • Church of the Holy Cross in the Gloucestershire village of Avening
  • Cardiff Castle
  • Broughton Castle in Banbury  
  • Haddon Hall in Bakewell, Derbyshire (below)

Who else has played Elizabeth I on screen?

In 2018, Margot Robbie transformed into Elizabeth I for the film Mary Queen of Scots, starring alongside Saoirse Ronan who played Elizabeth I’s cousin Mary. Robbie received a BAFTA nomination for her portrayal of the Virgin Queen. 

Cate Blanchett also took on the character of Elizabeth I for the 1998 film Elizabeth and  its 2007 follow-up, Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Both films earned her Oscar nominations for Best Actress. 

One actress who did win an Oscar for playing Elizabeth I is Dame Judi Dench. Dame Judi won the Best Supporting Actress award for playing the Virgin Queen in 1998 romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love. With a screen time of just seven minutes, Dame Judi holds the record for the shortest performance ever to win an Academy Award. 

Watch Becoming Elizabeth if you liked…

The Tudors, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Victoria, The White Queen, The Other Boleyn Girl, Mary, Queen of Scots, The Crown, Outlander, Bridgerton.

 

Becoming Elizabeth premieres Sunday 12 June on STARZPLAY.

STARZPLAY is available as an add-on channel to Prime Video.