Stan’s new series The Great is exactly the kind of royal drama we yearn to see played out onscreen – a delicious concoction of wealth and power with a pinch of darkness bubbling just below the surface.
Billed as an “anti-historical ride through 18th Century Russia”, The Great tells a highly altered version of the life of Catherine the Great following her arranged marriage to Russian Emperor Peter III, weaving her real life into a fictional plot thick with biting comedy and juicy drama.
When we first meet 19-year-old Catherine (played by Elle Fanning, who also serves as executive producer), she is giddily swept up in the romance of her new life and impending wedding to Peter, setting off from France to Russia prepared to nurture her new husband and stoically serve her adopted country.
What’s waiting for her on the other end of the journey, however, is nothing at all like the fairy tale world and marriage she had been envisioning.
Take a look at the trailer for The Great, available only on Stan.
Emperor Peter (Nicholas Hoult) is childish, cruel and recklessly impulsive – he’s not in any way the kind of man you’d want running a country, and even less so, the kind of man you’d want as your husband.
Initially, he passes Catherine off as nothing more than a pretty ornament to sit beside him at dinner, or a body to carry his future heir.
It’s not until he realises the depth of her intelligence and fearlessness that he begins to see his new wife as a threat, rather than a toy.
Watching Peter rule in a terrorising way, forcing everyone in the palace to fall in line with his various games and whims, likens him in some ways to another great TV villain: King Joffrey. Yes, the cruel and sadistic young ruler from Game of Thrones who is still considered one of the most villainous characters to ever exist in pop culture.