The Palace of Versailles is packed full of schemers, plotters, rulers, lovers and manipulators in this BBC2 drama, which is back for a second series.
Old favourites are set to return (King Louis, of course, and his brother Philippe) but there are also some newcomers at the Palace. Here’s everyone you need to know about, and where you’ve seen them before…
George Blagden – Louis XIV
Who does he play? Louis XIV is at the heart of Versailles, having decided to make his entire court up sticks and move to a lavish new palace outside Paris. In series two we see this ruthless monarch trying to consolidate his power, but as more and more nobles flock to Versailles, has he created a beautiful monster that he can’t control?
Blagden told RadioTimes.com: “We start season two seeing a man who’s very isolated and who stops listening to the people that he should be listening to and starts taking advice from the wrong people, and it’s a perfect example of what happens when you have all of that power – how do you keep it? We see him starting to become more and more out of control through the first part of this second season.”
Where have I seen him before? George Blagden played Athelstan in Vikings, and Grantaire in Les Misérables.
Alexander Vlahos – Prince Philippe
Who does he play? Monsieur Philippe d’Orléans is Louis’ little brother, but their relationship is not without friction. In series one, the King had an affair with Philippe’s wife Henriette, and the two frequently clashed over personal and public matters. Philippe is also a formidable soldier and a leader on the battlefield – a sore point with his brother.
Philippe was raised as a girl to prevent him from overshadowing the future king. He still enjoys cross-dressing and will let himself be dominated by his long-term lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine. In series two he’ll need a new wife, as Henriette has now been dead for a couple of years.
Where have I seen him before? Alexander Vlahos gained a huge fan following when he starred in Merlin. He’s also played Private Keenan in Privates, and Tom Evans in The Indian Doctor.
Anna Brewster – Madame de Montespan
Who does she play? Madame de Montespan is Louis’ mistress, and she really has a hold over his heart now Henriette is gone. She’s witty, ambitious, beautiful – and is now the most powerful woman in France.
Blagden told us: “We start to see how that influence that she’s gained and that favour that she’s gained with the King really starts to affect him and his mind, and all of the day to day decisions that he has to make are filtered through the Montespan filter, and we even see him taking her advice on some rather monumental decisions and ignoring his most trusted valet, Bontemps.”
Where have I seen her before? You may have caught a glimpse of her in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Bazine Netal. She’s also been in Material Girl, Silent Witness (as Deana Collier) and The Tudors (as Anna Buckingham).
Elisa Lasowski – Marie-Thérèse
Who does she play? Marie-Thérèse is King Louis’ Queen. She doesn’t appreciate being sidelined in favour of his mistresses, but she has little choice in the matter. Docile and pious, she is an isolated figure at court.
Where have I seen her before? Elisa Lasowski popped up briefly in Game of Thrones as Mirelle. She’s the girl with the mouse’s tail approaching the bejewelled-astronaut-skull in David Bowie’s music video for Blackstar (yes, really) and she played Nadzia in Line of Duty back in 2012.