Royal Drama 'Becoming Elizabeth' Nabs Starz Series Order (Exclusive)

Anya Reiss will serve as writer and exec producer on the drama series, which will feature an all-female writing team.
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Anya Reiss

Starz is ready to explore the royals again.

The Lionsgate-backed premium cable network has handed out an eight-episode, straight-to-series order for Becoming Elizabeth, a drama exploring the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, the future Queen of England.

"The world of Becoming Elizabeth is visceral and dangerous — judgments are rendered quickly and no one is safe,” said Starz's newly promoted CEO Jeffrey A. Hirsch. "This series explores the Tudor Reign and young Elizabeth, who would become England’s 'Gloriana' and one of history’s most dynamic figures, through a new lens which we think viewers will find highly engaging."

Anya Reiss (Spur of the Moment, The Acid Test) will serve as head writer and exec producer on the series, which will feature an all-female writing team that includes Emily Ballou (Humans), Anna Jordan (Succession) and Suhayla El-Bushra (Hollyoaks). Starz senior vp originals Karen Bailey will oversee for the cabler.

The series is described as the untold 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 arrives as Netflix's own royal drama, The Crown, continues to be a critical powerhouse for the streaming giant. Creator Peter Morgan has a six-season plan as he explores the life of Queen Elizabeth II over three time periods with three sets of different castmembers.

For Starz, the series is the latest scripted foray to explore the royals following The White Queen, The White Princess and The Spanish Princess. The cabler's scripted roster also includes Outlander, Vida, American Gods, P-Valley, Hightown, Dangerous Liaisons, Heels, Sweetbitter and a spinoff of the recently concluded Power.

Under Hirsch, Starz is looking for "premium female" programming, which focuses on women 24-54 who, he says, enjoy great women in history. Read more of the executive's plans for the network in THR's interview with him here.