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Summary

Alexander Mackendrick's unproduced screenplay about the most turbulent year of Mary Stuart's life.

The annals of movie history are full of lost treasures - spectacular scripts from world-renowned writers that could have been classics, had they only been made. Now, for the first time, some of these forgotten gems have been brought to life, fully realised as vivid, cinematic radio productions. Scripted by major 20th-century writers, including Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, Alfred Hitchcock and Dennis Potter, they star a host of A-list actors and feature richly evocative, atmospheric soundtracks.

One of seven 'unmade movies' available on audio, Mary Queen of Scots follows one tumultuous year in the life of the 16th-century monarch. It's 1566, and two clans are at war. Two religions - Catholic and Protestant - are in conflict. And two countries - England and Scotland - are about to collide. At the centre of this turmoil is 23-year-old Queen Mary: pregnant, isolated and vulnerable. Caught in a web of treachery, betrayal and murder, she must use her steely intelligence and every skill at her disposal to maintain her rightful position on the throne....

The acclaimed director of Whisky Galore! and The Ladykillers, Alexander Mackendrick spent nearly two decades struggling to adapt Mary Stuart's story for the silver screen, before retiring from filmmaking in 1969. Almost 50 years later, his cherished project was finally revived, directed by 'BAFTA Breakthrough Brit' Hope Dickson Leach and produced by Sandy Lieberson, Mackendrick's intended producer for the film. Narrated by the multi-award-winning Glenda Jackson, who twice played Elizabeth I in the 1970s, it stars Ellie Bamber (The Serpent) as Mary. Settle back and let yourself get carried away by this sweeping tale of passion, power, triumph and tragedy....

Production credits

Original screenplay by Alexander Mackendrick and Jay Presson Allen

Directed by Hope Dickson Leach

Executive producers: Laurence Bowen, Peter Ettedgui, Sandy Lieberson and Frank Stirling

Sound design: Wilfredo Acosta

Original music by Hutch Demouilpied

A Dancing Ledge production for BBC Radio 4

Cast

Mary Stuart - Ellie Bamber

Narrator - Glenda Jackson

Maitland - Mark Bonnar

Bothwell/Kerr - Emun Elliott

Darnley - Edward Holcroft

Morton - Bill Paterson

Ruthven/Du Croc/Knox - Struan Rodger

Murray/Rizzio/Taylor/Scout - Kevin Guthrie

Paris/Porter - Jamie Quinn

Mary Seton/Mary Fleming - Katharine O'Donnelly

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 8th December 2018

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"Rain-drenched spectacular.... [Glenda] Jackson brings authority and asperity, but so much more." (New Statesman

What listeners say about Unmade Movies: Alexander MacKendrick's Mary Queen of Scots

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