It never reigns but it pours

by BAZ BAMIGBOYE, Daily Mail

Last updated at 14:51 24 March 2005

Anne-Marie Duff has beaten Hollywood names to take the crown - she will portray the Virgin Queen in an epic drama about Elizabeth I.

As one of the stars of television's award-winning Shameless (she's just about the only 'normal' one in the famously dysfunctional family), Ms Duff has been enjoying much acclaim for her work.

Claire Danes, who starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, was one of the names said to be in the frame for the role of Elizabeth in the BBC1 drama, which will attempt to explore her complex character and intimate relationships.

Ms Duff was offered the part after meeting with the drama's director Coky Giedroyc. She is expected to accept the deal and will begin preparing for the role after she ends her run in Days Of Wine And Roses at the Donmar Theatre in Covent Garden.

And you know how it is with Tudor monarchs: it never reigns but it pours.

The BBC Elizabeth should not be confused with the ITV production Elizabeth And Essex, starring Helen Mirren. And not content with playing one Liz, Helen's also portraying Elizabeth II for Stephen Frears and Channel 4.

This, as I have reported, is about the clash between the Queen and Tony Blair after the death of the Princess of Wales.

And don't forget Lindsay Kemp's Elizabeth's Last Dance - an opera ballet, with Kemp playing the queen complete with wigs, gowns and ruffles.

There's something about the Elizabethan age that seems to speak to our culture - for whatever reason - at the moment.

Paula Milne, who has written the BBC's Elizabeth drama, wants to examine whether or not her claim to be a Virgin Queen was a smokescreen for selfpreservation or, as Jane Tranter, the BBC's drama controller, put it, 'a recoil from intimacy'.

I'm sure Anne-Marie will show us all that she needs to when it's broadcast.

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