She-Wolves: England's Early Queens

Jane, Mary and Elizabeth

Series 1 - Episode 3 Jane, Mary and Elizabeth



Helen Castor concludes her brief but sparkling series with the densest instalment yet – 50 years of religious tumult and courageous leadership, starting in 1553 when, for the first time, all the contenders for the English crown were female.

From the selfless stand taken by Lady Jane Grey in her nine days of rule to Elizabeth I’s Armada-repelling “heart and stomach of a king” speech, Castor has shaped a rousing narrative.

She mines the story for piercing contemporary comment (Mary’s face was “lined with anxiety” at her wedding to Philip of Spain) and telling documents. All propelled by pipe and tabor, plus pioneering politics.


Helen Castor tells the story of Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor's battle to succeed to the English throne in 1553, the first time in the country's history that no male made a claim to the vacant crown. She discovers the troubles that power brought to each woman, with Jane's reign lasting only a few days before Mary struggled to restore Catholic rule to England. Castor also looks back at the reign of Mary's successor, Elizabeth I, who ruled for more than 40 years and is still regarded as one of England's most successful monarchs - but whose triumphs came at a heavy cost. Last in the series.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Helen Castor
Director Lucy Swingler
Executive Producer Ross Wilson
Executive Producer Sam Anthony
Producer Lucy Swingler