Marie Antoinette: when is BBC TV series out - cast, is it based on a true story, and who was the French queen?

BBC Two historical drama series Marie Antoinette follows the early years of the woman who would become the last Queen of France

Marie Antoinette is a new eight-part historical series airing on BBC Two which follows the titular French Queen from in her early days as a newcomer to the French court. The series is inspired by historical events and was filmed on location in Versailles, though it is an English-language production.

Emilia Schule in Marie AntoinetteEmilia Schule in Marie Antoinette
Emilia Schule in Marie Antoinette

Who was Marie Antoinette?

Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France before and during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. She married a French Prince who would become Louis XVI, the last king of France.

She was born in Vienna, Austria in 1755 but moved to France and married the French heir in 1770. She became an unpopular figure among her people because of her luxurious lifestyle which she maintained during a time of severe economic hardship for the rest of the country.

While she is often mis-quoted as having said ‘let them eat cake’ in response to hearing that the French people were starving and could not afford bread, she certainly didn’t experience similar hardship herself and even opposed some social reforms.

The French revolution began with the storming of Paris’s state prison, the Bastille, on 14 July 1789 - it would drag on for decades, bringing about the forceful removal of the monarchy and seeing in the rise of Napoleon, who would later style himself as Emperor of France.

At first Marie Antoinette and the rest of the French Royal Family were kept under house arrest whilst the revolutionaries decided what to do with them. They were later held in prison and the monarchy was officially abolished in September 1972.

How did Marie Antoinette die?

King Louis XVI’s reign was brought to an end via guillotine on 21 January 1793 and Antoinette’s own trial took place later that year. She was convicted of high treason in October by a revolutionary tribunal and followed her late husband to the chopping block. She was executed by guillotine at the Place de la Révolution in central Paris on 16 October 1793, aged 37.

Cast of Marie AntoinetteCast of Marie Antoinette
Cast of Marie Antoinette

Is Marie Antoinette based on a true story?

Yes, the series is based on real events from Marie Antoinette’s early life. It follows her as a young woman, forced to leave Vienna and marry the French Dauphin. She learns quickly that her role is to produce an heir and thereby cement the alliance between France and her native Austria.

The series explores the culture shock she faces moving from across Europe and her changing position in the wake of her husband’s accession to the throne. The first series will cover the years from Antoinette’s marriage in 1770 up to the American Revolution in 1776, which France was involved in as a supporter of the revolutionaries.

When is Marie Antoinette on TV?

The first episode of Marie Antoinette will air on BBC Two on Thursday 29 December at 9pm. There are eight episodes in the series and they will be released at the same time weekly. Episodes will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer shortly after they are first broadcast.

Who is in the cast of Marie Antoinette?

  • Emilia Schüle as Marie-Antoinette
  • Louis Cunningham as Louis XVI
  • Jack Archer as Provence
  • Jasmine Blackborow as Lamballe
  • Marthe Keller as Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche
  • Crystal Shepherd-Cross as Adelaïde
  • Caroline Piette as Victoire
  • Oscar Lesage as Chartres
  • Nathan Willcocks as Mercy
  • Charlotte Angel as Young Marie-Antoinette
  • Roxane Duran as Joséphine
  • Laura Benson as Madame de Noailles
  • Jonas Bloquet as Joseph II d’Autriche
  • Yoli Fuller as Saint-Georges
  • James Purefoy as Louis XV

Is there a trailer for Marie Antoinette?

Yes there is, and you can watch it right here:

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