Sunday Choice

Article excerpt

The Virgin Queen 9pm, BBC1 HISTORY BOOKS, Blackadder II - and, of course, Helen Mirren last autumn on Channel 4 - tell us that Queen Elizabeth I was a decisive, distinctive monarch, partial to stickyout hair and frocks.

But what of the royal lady before she was crowned queen and discovered the 16thcentury equivalent of hair wax?

Paula Milne's new, four-part drama looks at Elizabeth I's whole life, so it makes sense that it kicks off with Protestant Elizabeth as a young lady, forced to live in exile in Catholic England, with her sister Mary on the throne and trying to produce an heir.

Anne-Marie Duff (right), as Elizabeth, exhibits an air of authority (familiar from her most famous telly role as Fiona in Shameless) over her much older, and all male, advisers. But this is replaced with giggly girlishness when she hugs her companions or sneaks off to meet her secret boyfriend, Robert Dudley (Tom Hardy).

Even though the rest of the cast - including Tara Fitzgerald and Joanne Whalley - is strong, Duff 's selfassured performance (and a long ginger wig) mean she stands out from the standard BBC costume-drama background of lush landscapes, enormous royal residences and vanloads of extras.

If only the magnificence of the Helen Mirren version wasn't so fresh in our minds- - IR

BEST FILM Lantana 10.10pm, More4 (15) (2001). Anthony LaPaglia.

It is so refreshing when an audience is treated as cogent beings and this film certainly does that. It begins as a murder mystery, but ends up as a contemplation on love and its many distortions. It is a magnificent ensemble piece, with LaPaglia (right) as the cop investigating the death of a woman, having an affair and suffering from chest pains.

Psychologist Barbara Hershey and husband Geoffrey Rush are still coming to terms with the grief of losing their daughter, she wrote about it, he seems eerily stoic. …