I'm English and I can vaguely remember this series on the BBC when I was a child. I've heard about it, how popular it was at the time, how it was shown all over Europe and made a star out of Glenda Jackson. I have an interest in the period and a fascination with Elizabeth I, who remains one of the best remembered and admired of all English rulers in England's long history. So, I bought this DVD, although no-one seemilingly can tell me why this is available on DVD and VHS in the USA but only on VHS in England!
It was well worth importing. True, the limitations of 1970's BBC production values do irratate a bit at times, but the quality of the drama - the supremely intelligent dialogue, and above all Jackson's acting really make you forget this after a short time. The reason is of course is that this belongs to a tradition that we're not so used to seeing today - the theatrical. For this is a theatre production with a camera instead of a live audience, where the dialogue, and above all the acting are made to shine and where the background is essentially irrelevent. The costumes are, however, superlative.
I really can't praise this drama enough, it's completely spellbinding. The historical accuracy is excellent, but above anything else it's Glenda Jackson's performance which is the real standout here, and moreover once you read the historical accounts you realise how astonishingly accurate Jackson's performance is - she simply *is* Elizabeth. You cannot take your eyes off her when she's onscreen - her expression of face, eyes, her voice, they all convey a myriad of things all at once.
This really is essential viewing, not only as a marvellous drama but for Jackson's extraordinary portrait of this most extraordinary woman.