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Catherine the Great (miniseries)

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Catherine the Great
Written byNigel Williams
Directed byPhilip Martin
ComposerRupert Gregson-Williams
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes4 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerJules Hussey
Production locations
  • Lithuania
  • Latvia
  • Russia
CinematographyStuart Howell
  • Stuart Gazzard
  • Selina MacArthur
Running time60 minutes
Production companies
  • New Pictures
  • Origin Pictures
  • Sky Studios
Original release
ReleaseOctober 3, 2019 (2019-10-03)

Catherine the Great is a British-American television miniseries written by Nigel Williams and directed by Philip Martin for Sky Atlantic and HBO Miniseries. It stars Helen Mirren as the titular Catherine the Great.[1][2]

The series premiered in its entirety on 3 October 2019 on Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom.[3] It debuted on 21 October 2019 on HBO in the United States.[4] The show was also distributed worldwide by Sky Vision.[5]


The miniseries depicts Empress Catherine II of Russia's reign, from 1764, two years after taking power, until her death in 1796.

Cast and characters[edit]




Filming locations[edit]

The majority of filming took place in Lithuania, due to scenery of the country and favourable film tax incentives[7][8][9] - Vilnius, Pažaislis monastery and Trakai Island Castle. A large part of filming, in particular the episodes happening in the throne room, many corridor episodes, the cross-dressing ball at the end of Episode 1, and the scenes that take place on the stairs outside the palace, were filmed in Rundāle Palace in Latvia. Other scenes were filmed in St Petersburg, Peterhof Palace, and Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo Russia.[10]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.K./U.S. viewers
(millions) [11]
1"Episode 1"Phillip MartinNigel Williams3 October 2019 (2019-10-03)0.345/0.332[12]

Catherine the Great visits Ivan VI of Russia in the Shlisselburg prison.

Catherine won't marry the military officer Grigory Orlov. She is suspicious of Mirovich.
2"Episode 2"Phillip MartinNigel Williams3 October 2019 (2019-10-03)0.345/0.232[13]

Rumyantsev and Potemkin are spearheading the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774).

Natalia of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt becomes Catherine's daughter-in-law. However, Natalia publicly has amorous relations with Razumovsky.

Catherine manages the Preo-brazhensky Guards.

Potemkin puts down Pugachev's Rebellion.
3"Episode 3"Phillip MartinNigel Williams3 October 2019 (2019-10-03)0.345/0.311[14]

Potemkin blows a fuse that Catherine has a romantic relationship with Peter Zavadovsky.

Catherine has forged an alliance with Frederick II of Prussia to facilitate the takeover of Crimean Khanate from the Ottoman Empire. Afterwards, Potemkin takes Catherine to see his Black Sea Fleet around Sevastopol, Crimea. Potemkin aspires to push farther into Byzantium, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and, previously, the Eastern Roman Empire.
4"Episode 4"Phillip MartinNigel Williams3 October 2019 (2019-10-03)0.345/0.237[15]

Russia declares war on the Ottoman Empire (Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792)) after Turkish officials imprison the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople. Potemkin gets angry when Catherine decides to recall Alexei Orlov back to court to help strategize for the war. The Russians proceed to take Ochakov.

Paul accuses his mother of "poisoning" his son Alexander against him.


The four-part miniseries premiered in its entirety on Sky Atlantic, On Demand and Now TV in the United Kingdom on 3 October 2019.[3] It debuted in its entirety on HBO Go and HBO Now in the United States on 21 October 2019,[4] while HBO broadcast one part per week until 11 November 2019.[16] Catherine the Great premiered on Fox Showcase in Australia on 3 November 2019.[17]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 68% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Though its sumptuous setting and design often outshines its storytelling, Catherine the Great remains a seductive, if scattershot, period drama thanks to the great Helen Mirren".[18] On Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19]

The Guardian, while praising Helen Mirren's (Helen Mirronoff, daughter of a Russian émigré) performance, found the work, overall, lacking.[20]

Variety wrote: "Stepping back from the series' four episodes reveals a disappointing lack of ambition in portraying such a titanic force's final days".[21]

Mike Hale of The New York Times criticized the film for having "a lot of yelling and passionate making up", and called it "a little distant and slightly embarrassing", comparing it to "a couple you don't know arguing in a parking lot".[22]

Brian Lowry of CNN wrote "The peccadilloes of royalty never go out of fashion, but Catherine -- with her tumultuous decades-long reign -- brings more intrigue to the party than most".[23]

Vanity Fair's Sonia Saraiya said that "Catherine the Great reframes her desire as part of her glory - and revels in that glory, without asking too many awkward questions".[24]

According to David Fear of the Rolling Stone, "You can feel that [directors] are relying on the mighty Dame Helen to do most of the dramatic heavy lifting here. You can also sense when, despite her best efforts, that particular plan of action still falls short".[25]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 British Academy Television Awards Best Make Up & Hair Design Kirstin Chalmers Nominated [26]
Best Titles & Graphic Identity Elastic Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Limited Series or Television Film Helen Mirren Nominated [27]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie or Special Jim Goddard, Craig Butters, Duncan Price, Matthew Mewett, Andrew Glen, Anna Wright and Catherine Thomas (for "Episode 4") Nominated [28]
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film Helen Mirren Nominated [29]



  1. ^ "HBO News - Helen Mirren to Star in Miniseries Catherine the Great". HBO. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  2. ^ Huff, Lauren (3 October 2018). "First Look: Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great in HBO, Sky Miniseries". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b Knight, Lewis (30 September 2019). "Catherine the Great UK start date, cast, plot, trailer for Helen Mirren series". Mirror. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke Star in the Four-Part HBO/Sky Limited Series "Catherine the Great," Debuting October 21". The Futon Critic. 28 August 2019. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  5. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (25 January 2018). "HBO And Sky Team Up For 'Catherine The Great' Miniseries Starring Helen Mirren". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 5 October 2022 – via Decider.
  6. ^ "First look at Dame Helen Mirren in Sky and HBO's Catherine the Great - news from Sky Media". Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Film Tax Incentive". www.lkc.lt. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Behind The Scenes of New HBO's Historic Epic Catherine the Great Filming in Vilnius". filmvilnius.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Where Was 'Catherine The Great' Filmed? The Series Takes Place Across 3 Countries". www.bustle.com. 3 October 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  10. ^ L, Mila. "Walking In the Footsteps of Catherine the Great". Experience Russia Tours. Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  11. ^ Four-screen dashboard, Period: 30 Sep 2019 – 6 Oct 2019, Channel: Sky Atlantic Total, Consolidation: 7 Days, Device type: TV set Broadcasters' Audience Research Board
  12. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (22 October 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 10.21.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  13. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (29 October 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 10.28.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  14. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (5 November 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.4.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 5 November 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  15. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (12 November 2019). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.11.2019". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Catherine the Great (HBO) – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  17. ^ Knox, David (3 October 2019). "Airdate: Catherine the Great". TV Tonight. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Catherine the Great". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  19. ^ "Catherine The Great". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  20. ^ Mangan 2019.
  21. ^ Framke, Caroline (18 October 2019). "TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren". Variety.
  22. ^ Hale, Mike (20 October 2019). "Review: Helen Mirren Wears the Crown (This Time, Russia's)". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  23. ^ Lowry, Brian (21 October 2019). "'Catherine the Great' crowns Helen Mirren (again) for regal miniseries". CNN. Retrieved 5 October 2022.
  24. ^ Saraiya, Sonia (21 October 2019). "Catherine the Great tells the Romance of a Glorious, Terrifying Tyrant". Vanity Fair.
  25. ^ Fear, David (21 October 2019). "'Catherine the Great' Review: From Russia, With Love (and Lust)". Rolling Stone.
  26. ^ "BAFTA TV 2020: Nominations for the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards and British Academy TV Craft Awards". BAFTA. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Golden Globes: Full List of Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  28. ^ "2020 Primetime Emmy" (PDF) (Press release). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  29. ^ "24th Satellite Awards Announce Nominations, 'Ford v Ferrari' Leads the Way". Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.


External links[edit]