Marie Antoinette – the BBC’s new period drama – is a must-watch this December

Written by The Favourite’s Deborah Davis, the BBC’s Marie Antoinette promises to show us a whole new side to the doomed queen… 

“Let them eat cake!”

It is, perhaps, the most famous quote ever attributed to Marie Antoinette, the queen of France during the French Revolution. And it is also, likely, the only thing that people ever really remember about her –that and her immense Le Pouf hairstyle, of course.

This was, though, the same girl who was forced to leave her home and family in Austria when she was just 14. Who was married off to a complete stranger as part of a diplomatic reconciliation. Who was described as “honest and lovable” by her brother. Who endured two miscarriages. Who was forced to bury her beloved baby daughter. And who, quite frankly, deserves to be remembered for far more than that “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – especially as there’s no historical evidence to suggest she ever uttered these callous words in the first place.

Thankfully, the BBC is about to set the world to rights with a new period drama all about Marie Antoinette… and one written by The Favourite’s Deborah Davis, no less.

Marie Antoinette promises to be a truly sumptuous period drama.

Here’s what you need to know, then, about Marie Antoinette.

What’s the plot of Marie Antoinette?

The BBC series kicks off as a teenage Marie Antoinette leaves Austria to marry the Dauphin of France. When she arrives at Versailles, though, she is absolutely overwhelmed by the many rules and complexities of the French court, and soon succumbs to homesickness.

The princess wants to live the life she’s always dreamed of; her mother, though, keeps pushing her to continue the Bourbon line and thus secure the alliance between the two countries. Which, considering how avoidant and solitary Louis proves to be, proves to be no easy feat.

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“Transforming from the young Dauphine to the Queen of Style and a true fashion icon, Marie Antoinette will eventually understand the rules and secrets of the Court, and will attempt to recreate Versailles in her image: free, independent and feminist,” promises the official synopsis.

“But her successes will provoke jealousy and rivalry. As defamatory pamphlets and persistent rumours about her private life undermine her status, her opponents within the Royal Family will do everything they can to bring her down.”

Watch the trailer for Marie Antoinette below:

A princess that needs to be put in her place?

We’re 100% invested.

Who stars in Marie Antoinette?

As you’d expect from such a lavish undertaking, the cast of Marie Antoinette is full of bright young (and extremely talented) things.

  • Emilia Schüle as Marie Antoinette
  • James Purefoy as Louis XV
  • Louis Cunningham as Louis XVI
  • Jack Archer as Provence
  • Jasmine Blackborow as Princess of Lamballe
  • Caroline Piette as Victoire
  • Crystal Shepherd-Cross as Adelaide
  • Nathan Willcocks as Mercy
  • Roxane Duran as Josephine
  • Marthe Keller as The Empress
  • Gaia Weiss as Madame Du Barry
  • Oscar Lesage as Chartres
  • Liah O’Prey as Yolande
  • Yoli Fuller as Joseph Bologna de Saint-Georges
  • Martijn Lakemeier as Axel von Fersen

What has Deborah Davis said about Marie Antoinette?

“Marie Antoinette is the 21st century eye through which we will explore the dark, manipulative and misogynistic world of Versailles,” the talented writer promises of her new series.

“She embodies our views of personal freedom, individuality, equality and self-determination. We are who we are today because of who she was then.”

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Davis adds: “But it was these very modern qualities, combined with her absolute determination to live the life she wanted to live, that enabled her enemies to undermine and ultimately destroy her. No female with contemporary values could take on Versailles under the Ancien Régime and win.

“The fact that she tried was remarkable!”

When and where can we watch Marie Antoinette?

This eight-episode series will debut at 9pm on 29 December via BBC Two, and all episodes will be available to stream via BBC iPlayer.

Will you be watching?

Images: BBC / Capa Drama / Banijay Studios France / Les Gens / Canal+ / Caroline Dubois

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