Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr

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Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr
Long may they not reign.
Genre: Historical drama
Running Time: 60 minutes
Country: Spain
United Kingdom
Release Date: January 24 – February 28, 2017
Network(s): TVE
Created by: José Luis Moreno
Starring: Olivia Chenery
Rebecca Scott
Harry Jarvis
Adrián Castiñeiras
Fernando Gil
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 6

"Not that I believed Queens was going to be good, but I didn't expect it to be so, so, so, SO bad."
Alberto Rey, El Mundo

Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr (Spanish title Reinas: Virgen y mártir or simply Reinas) was a Spanish-British historical drama created by José Luis Moreno and produced by Indiana Pictures for TVE, featuring a cast with both Spanish and British actors headlined by Olivia Chenery and Rebecca Scott as the titular queens Mary Stuart and Elizabeth of England, respectively. It ran for six episodes in 2017.


In 1561, a 19-year-old Mary Stuart returns to Scotland after thirteen years away receiving an education in Europe's finest schools. She finds in her homeland a poor nation divided by religious conflicts and endless power grabs among the different noble clans, encouraged by her nemesis Elizabeth of England, head of the Church of England that is waging an all-out war with the Roman Catholic Church. Phillip II of Spain, one of Europe's most powerful monarchs, will find himself involved in this dispute.

Why It Sucks

  1. In spite of the show's relatively large budget, the production values often don't feel up to par. For example, there is a painfully obvious greenscreen on Mary's ship early on.
  2. Stilted acting from most of the main cast, with Olivia Chenery and Adrián Castiñeiras being the worst offenders in this regard.
  3. Boring dialogue in which the characters tend to go over the same points again and again (most notably in the arc of Mary's marriage negotiations), not helped for Spanish viewers by a really cheap-sounding dub.
  4. Some of the female characters' outfits tend to favor the fanservice factor over historical accuracy, with necklines unrealistically low for the 16th century, particularly for Mary.
  5. Cheesy sexual innuendos from Elizabeth: "I just love to... ride" [while on horseback].
  6. On that note, there are also a number of pointless sex scenes that seem to be there just to provide some gratuitous fanservice and pad out the runtime, serving no purpose to the story.
  7. Elizabeth becomes really annoying by talking about sex in inappropriate contexts, particularly with lines aimed at Robert such as "If you negotiated the same way you fornicate, I would dominate the world" or "Men use the sword as a symbol for their penis: long, sharp and hurtful, and most of the time, useless".
  8. John Knox, who could have been an interesting figure in his opposition to Mary's will to stay Catholic while leading a Protestant nation, has his character boiled down to a mere woman-hating fanatic, repeatedly calling Mary a "Jezabel" who will bring ruin to Scotland based solely on biblical prejudice, before she has even had the chance to actually rule the country.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The settings are gorgeous when there are no special effects involved.
  2. While historically inaccurate, the queens' costumes look adequately luxurious most of the time.


Queens was panned by Spanish media for the actors' lackluster performances, bad dialogue (noting that not a single screenwriter was credited in the first episode), equally bad special effects, in particular the obvious green screens at some points, and for the dubbing into Spanish (the show was originally filmed in English) that reviewers compared to "a 90s porn movie". The series holds a 5.7/10 rating on IMDb.


  • The show's budget was estimated in about €2 million per episode, way above average for a Spanish series.
  • An alternate nine-episode cut was made for international release.
  • Creator José Luis Moreno falsely claimed that the BBC had been involved in the show's production.


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