Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette: BBC Two’s new historical drama is an “ambitious” take on the iconic French figure

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Marie Antoinette will depict the life of the “fearless queen,” who is described as “free, independent and feminist ahead of her time”.

France’s ill-fated former queen may have been the subject of a fair few controversies during her time on the throne, but Marie Antoinette’s rule – and the life she led leading up to it – has been the subject of continued fascination over the years.

Perhaps most memorably, the young queen was the subject of Sofia Cappola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette, which tracked her journey from young girl to French queen.

And now, Marie Antoinette is set to be the subject of another series of the same name – from none other than the creator of Olivia Colman’s The Favourite, Deborah Davis. 

The BBC series, which is currently in production, is described as an “extraordinary fresh new take” on the story, following the “incredibly modern and avant-garde young queen” from the time she leaves Austria at the age of 14 to marry the Dauphin of France.

So, what can viewers expect from this exciting new historical drama? Keep reading to find out everything we know about Marie Antoinette so far. 

What is Marie Antoinette about?

Although we don’t yet know any specific plot details, we do know that the eight-part series will focus solely on the life story of the queen and her experience growing up inside the French court – which gives the series’ creator plenty to play with.

Indeed, Antoinette’s story is rich with engaging details – not only was she 14 when she was brought from her home in Austria to marry the young Dauphin of France, but she was put under significant pressure to continue the monarchy’s line with a male heir, something that (controversially, for the time) did not happen until eight years after the couple were married. 

Her life at Versailles was also the subject of much controversy and criticism. As she had very few ‘official’ duties outside her responsibility to produce an heir, Antoinette spent much of her time at the palace indulging in her extravagant tastes – something that quickly garnered attention from newspapers and the general public.

By the time the French revolution came around, Antoinette was detested by many of the French public, who accused her of trying to undermine the French nation. In December 1792, her husband Louis XVI was put on trial for treason and executed, and in October 1793, she too was sent to the guillotine. When she died, she was 37 years old.

Who will star in Marie Antoinette

Emilia Schüle
Emilia Schüle will star as Marie Antoinette.

The German actor Emilia Schüle will star as Marie Antoinette, who is described as “free, independent and feminist ahead of her time”. British actor Louis Cunningham will star alongside her as Louis XVI.

The series’ IMDb page also reveals that Jasmine Blackborow (known for her role as Marie in Netflix’s Shadow And Bone) will play a character called Lamballe.

While we don’t have any more details about her character yet, it’s likely she is the series’ depiction of the Princesse de Lamballe, Marie Antoinette’s friend and Superintendent of her Household who was beaten to death and dismembered during the massacres of September 1972. 

Other cast members listed on the IMDb page include Jack Archer, who will play a character called Provence, and Caroline Piette, who will play a character called Victoire.

What has been said about Marie Antoinette?

Speaking in a press release for the series, Sue Deeks, head of programme acquisition at the BBC, said she was “truly delighted” to be bringing this “ambitious project” to BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

“Marie Antoinette possesses an enduring fascination and Deborah Davis has a very singular vision for her story,” she added.

When and where will Marie Antoinette be released?

Marie Antoinette will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, although we don’t yet know when it will be released. We’ll keep this space updated with the latest news when we hear it, though. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.