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TV SERIES
The Great
STREAMING ON STAN

Elle Fanning plays Catherine II, Empress of Russia, and Nicholas Hoult is guileless as Peter III.

Elle Fanning plays Catherine II, Empress of Russia, and Nicholas Hoult is guileless as Peter III. Credit:

Recently, I rewatched Marie Antoinette, the 2006 film directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst. This time, to my delight, I discovered the scene with the hidden Converse sneakers that I had absolutely no memory of. So rock ’n’ roll. I really think it’s one of my favourite films of all time.

So imagine my joy when I discovered Stan’s new series The Great – about the rise of Catherine II, Empress of Russia – which has the irreverence and opulence of Marie Antoinette ramped up to 11. Elle Fanning plays Kirsten, I mean Catherine, and Nicholas Hoult (pictured above with Fanning) is guileless as Peter III, a philandering idiot with mummy issues: her rotting corpse sits on display in the palace. (“She was a goddess,” says Peter. “Someone should work out what goes on between a chap and his mother. There’d be money in that.”)

Created by Australian screenwriter Tony McNamara (The Favourite), the script is full of bawdy banter about the disappointment of a dysfunctional marriage and the general challenges that come with ruling a nation at war with those “evil blond Swedish f…s”.