New Netflix docudrama Queen Cleopatra arrives in the wake of backlash to its casting, with some voicing their outrage at the show's decision to cast Black biracial actress Adele James as the titular queen.


Amongst those voicing criticism of the casting choice was the Egyptian Government, which released a statement saying that artefacts and coins of the time proved that Cleopatra possessed a "light complexion" with Greek "Hellenistic characteristics".

Alongside James, the series also stars former EastEnders actor John Partridge as Julius Caesar, and speaking with exclusively, he responded to the backlash.

Partridge said: "I guess I'm saying this in a broader casting level, you know, we are all cast for different reasons, for different purposes, for the telling of this particular piece. That's all we are, we are vessels for storytelling."

He continued: "And I know Adele's had quite a rough time through some of the promotion of this and it's hard, as an actor that's hard. It's hard to be criticised for things other than your storytelling, or your talent.

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"I hope that people are able to look at the documentary, and look at the opinions in the documentary, and listen to it and make up their own minds."

Partridge's comments follow director Tina Gharavi's own response to the outrage, with Gharavi saying that "it is more likely that Cleopatra looked like Adele than Elizabeth Taylor ever did".

Meanwhile, James told herself that she thinks people's anger is "quite misplaced for the fact that it's a docu-drama", and added that "there's academic research to support the casting choice".

She continued: "I'm a biracial actress playing a potentially, based on academic research, biracial historical figure. So for me, it's a bit frustrating and upsetting obviously, but also it reduces the whole series to one element of what we're trying to talk about here and I think that's just a shame. I'm glad that the tide is turning away from that a little bit now."

Queen Cleopatra premieres on Netflix on Wednesday 10th May 2023. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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