Multi-award-winning Helen Mirren will play the lead role in the third commission from Sky and HBO’s high-end global drama partnership.
Catherine the Great is a four-part drama that delves into the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history. Catherine wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century – strong-minded, independent, brilliantly intelligent and sexually liberated, she was the definition of the modern woman.
The mini-series, set to start filming later this year, will follow Catherine towards the end of her reign and her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin. Amid scandal, intrigue and immense conflict, this is a story of obsessive love. Unable to publicly marry and famously promiscuous, they develop a unique and devoted relationship, overcoming their adversaries and together shaping Russia as we know it today.
Catherine the Great, produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures, will air on Sky Atlantic and TV streaming service NOW TV in the UK and Ireland next year, and on Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany, Austria and Sky’s recently launched service in Spain. The miniseries will air on HBO in the US and HBO Canada in Canada, through HBO's output deal with Bell Media.
Helen Mirren said: “I am very excited by the possibility of embodying a woman from history who grabbed and then wielded great power. She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name, Catherine the Great. I am very grateful to have HBO and Sky as partners in this endeavour. There are no other homes on television that bring the support and understanding needed for this kind of project.”
Cameron Roach, commissioning editor for Sky drama, said: “We’re incredibly excited to announce Catherine the Great and our further association with HBO, in what promises to be a definitive landmark drama. The team assembled on the project is truly world class and we look forward to Helen Mirren bringing this remarkable woman to life.”
Kary Antholis, president, HBO miniseries and CINEMAX programming, said: “We are jubilant about having Helen Mirren back on HBO, playing the iconic Russian empress and joining this distinguished team of British filmmakers. This collaboration will, no doubt, result in a truly regal mini-series.”
Written by Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I, Wodehouse in Exile) and directed by BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning Philip Martin (The Crown, Mo, Prime Suspect), Catherine the Great will be executive produced by David M. Thompson (Woman in Gold, Death Comes to Pemberley) for Origin Pictures and Charlie Pattinson (Elizabeth I, The Missing, Skins) for New Pictures, Helen Mirren and Philip Martin. Jules Hussey (Hooten and the Lady) is producing.
It is commissioned by Sky’s director of programmes Zai Bennett, Sky’s head of drama Anne Mensah and commissioning editor for Sky drama, Cameron Roach. Sky Vision will handle distribution rights.
David M. Thompson, executive producer for Origin Pictures, said: “Helen Mirren came to me with the idea for Catherine the Great when we were working with her on Woman in Gold, saying it's a part she's always wanted to play. I’m delighted we’re now making the series and indeed we can't think of anyone better for the role. We’re thrilled with the scripts from Nigel Williams and the drama couldn’t have found a more perfect home than Sky/HBO. We're really pleased to be collaborating with New Pictures on the show, and look forward to bringing it to fruition.”
Charlie Pattinson, executive producer for New Pictures, said: “We are delighted to be working with Helen Mirren and Nigel Williams again after our previous collaboration on Elizabeth I. Nigel has already brought Catherine the Great and her extraordinary love story with Grigory Potemkin to life on the page and we couldn’t have better partners than Sky Atlantic and HBO and director Philip Martin. Catherine was one of the most powerful and extraordinary women in history. She deserves to be portrayed by an actress as fiercely intelligent and instinctive as Helen Mirren.”
Catherine the Great is the third Sky and HBO project to be greenlit through an international partnership to develop big-scale drama, under a $250m multi-year co-production investment deal announced last year. The first commission from the global partnership was Chernobyl, a dramatisation of the true story of one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history, starring Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), with the second titled Gangs of London (w/t), a fresh and original gangland thriller set to take viewers on an adrenaline-fuelled journey into the hidden heart of the capital. Both shows will be coming exclusively to Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK & Ireland.
For more information, please contact:
Sky Entertainment & Product PR
Notes to editors
Sky is Europe's leading entertainment company, serving 23 million customers across seven countries - UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. The company has annual revenues of £12.9 billion and is Europe’s leading investor in television content with an annual programming spend of £7 billion.
From exclusive partnerships with HBO, Showtime and Warner Brothers to Sky Original Productions, Sky offers the best and broadest range of content along with the best viewing experience to suit each and every customer. Whether that’s through the multi-award winning next generation box, Sky Q, or Sky’s contract-free online streaming service, NOW TV, customers have access to the latest movies, drama, sports and kids entertainment wherever and whenever they like. This is all supported by Sky’s best in class customer service.
Sky’s success is not just based on what the company does but how it does it. Named as one of the Top 10 Green Companies in the World by Newsweek, one of the world’s most recognised rankings of business’s environmental performance, Sky ensures its responsible business strategy is embedded right across the group.
This year we announced three new major commitments for our corporate campaign Sky Ocean Rescue; the reduction of our own single-use plastics by 2020; an investment fund of £25 million over five years in technology solutions; and support of marine protected areas across our markets.
Sky has over 31,000 employees and is listed as one of The Times Top 50 employers for women. Sky is listed on the London Stock Exchange (SKY).
Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. and the world’s most successful pay TV service, providing the two television services – HBO® and Cinemax® – to approximately 131 million subscribers worldwide. The services offer the popular subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand® and Cinemax On Demand®, as well as HBO GO® and MAX GO®, HD feeds and multiplex channels. HBO NOW®, the network’s internet-only premium streaming service, provides audiences with instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming in the U.S. Internationally, HBO branded television networks, along with the subscription video-on-demand products HBO On Demand and HBO GO, bring HBO services to over 60 countries. HBO and Cinemax programming is sold into over 150 countries worldwide.
About NOW TV
NOW TV is a pick and mix TV streaming service that lets you choose from a range of passes contract free. Available anytime, anywhere, you can watch through a NOW TV Box, on the web or on over 60 devices with the NOW TV app.
Whether you’re into big dramas, blockbuster movies, live sports or even just some extra TV for the kids, NOW TV offers four passes which include the latest and best TV and movies: Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids and Sky Sports. This includes Sky Atlantic, over 300 Box Sets on demand, all 10 Sky Sports channels and over 1,000 movies – all available with no contract.
• For more information visit nowtv.com
• Follow us at facebook.com/NOWTV
• Join the conversation on twitter @NOWTV
• Visit us at Youtube.com/nowtvofficial
About Sky Vision
Sky Vision is the production and distribution arm of Sky. The distribution arm represents around 6,000 hours of quality primetime programming from Sky Original Productions and independent third party production, across all key primetime genres (drama, entertainment, factual entertainment and factual). The business also has equity investments in ten production businesses in the UK and US; Love Productions, Blast! Films, Sugar Films, True North, Chrysalis Vision, Avanti Media and Sky Vision Productions in the UK; and in the US, Jupiter Entertainment, Talos Films and Znak & Co.
In addition to its equity investments, Sky Vision works extensively with independent producers in the UK and North America and has development deals with a number of production companies including Double Nickel, MyEntertainment and Peacock Alley in North America; and Bohemia Films, Chalkboard TV, LittleRock Pictures, Merman Films, Spark Media Partners, ACME and STV Productions in the UK.