TV Highlights

Armada

BBC Two - 9pm

Who's in it?

Elizabeth I has been portrayed by such esteemed stars as Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench and Glenda Jackson, but now it’s the turn of… Anita Dobson. Yes, Angie from EastEnders is the Virgin Queen in this big new docudrama.

In a nutshell

The Spanish Armada. What do most people know about it? Well, there were lots of ships. A whole bucketload of ships. And they were from Spain (clue’s in the name). Oh, and they were a massive, catastrophic flop: an embarrassment of an invasion which left Britain triumphant. Those are the basic facts of the matter, but now lantern-jawed history buff Dan Snow will be telling the full story, and getting on an actual boat in the English Channel while he’s at it.

Yep, this is a very hands on sort of analysis, with Dan trudging around evocative landscapes as he describes the growing tension between England and Spain, the various political and romantic entanglements that led to conflict, and the very personal attrition between Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I. Speaking of whom: Anita Dobson will be donning the flour-white makeup to play the monarch. Well, if there’s one thing rougher than being married to Dirty Den, it’s facing down a marauding naval force, right?

What's the verdict?

A double whammy, this: lots of fascinating facts on one of the seminal moments in British history, plus the chance to see Anita Dobson in one of her unlikeliest roles ever. With all this going for it, Armada should be plain sailing.

Record Armada now on Virgin TV Anywhere

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07-07-2011