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Jan 27, 2021
Huzzah! Everything you need to know about the second season of ‘The Great’

It’s official: the fabulously louche series starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult as Catherine the Great and Peter III of Russia is returning for a second season. Here’s what we know so far

We are currently riding a joyful wave of top-notch period dramas. Admittedly, Bridgerton and The Great – one fictional the other a revisionist history – are only comparable through genre, but what they also have in common is that they have both been confirmed for a second season. Those who have seen the first season of The Great wil cry ‘Huzzah!’ and throw their champagne coupés to the floor. The 10-episode series from Hulu is currently energising television sets across the UK on Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4, and Tatler couldn’t be more enthralled. The costumes, the satire, the sets, the gut-wrenchingly funny dialogue – Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning as Emperor Peter and Empress Catherine couldn’t have been better cast – we’d say it’s Bridgerton, but cleverer.

As for the second season, here is what we know thus far. Please note this article includes spoilers for people still watching the first season of The Great.

Is The Great Season 2 actually confirmed?

Elle Fanning posted a photograph in July captioned: ‘I can’t hold it in any longer! THE GREAT is renewed for a SEASON 2!!!!! Okay, now seriously @nicholashoult I’m going to get you this time…’ Viewers might have guessed it was coming, given the state of disarray Peter’s Russia is left in and all the questions that are left unanswered at the end of the first season.

Hulu announced on July 2 2020 that they would be making the second season and like the first season, it will have 10 hour-long episodes. More thrillingly still, there may even be more seasons to follow beyond a second. The executive producer of the series Marian Macgowan told Decider, a film streaming website, that: ‘We initially pitched six seasons. So we believe there’s sufficient material to take us through until she [Catherine] is an old woman’.

What will the second season of The Great entail?

The first season ended – spoiler alert – with Peter III (Nicholas Hoult) discovering Empress Catherine’s plot to overthrow him. Rather than have her executed, Peter spared the pregnant Empress in the name of their unborn child. So the season will be likely to explore a new Russia under Catherine’s rulership, but anything more particular?

MacGowan told Decider that they would like to explore the class divide in Russia further in Season 2 because under Catherine’s rulership it would ‘be even more relevant’. Australian website, Boss Hunting, also suggests that Catherine’s affairs would be likely to take centre stage after the birth of her child, heightening furthermore the tension between her and her husband, Peter.

Tony McNamara, The Favourite’s screenwriter and also the genius behind The Great (that was Emmy-nominated for ‘outstanding writing’), said they had ‘roughly’ planned to introduce key historical figures in Catherine’s life, like the Orlov family. Although the overall trajectory of the show – that is proudly ‘only occasionally true’ – seems to suggest that they might actually stick with the real storyline where Catherine overhauls Peter III after becoming a mother. (A key part of her success rested in the efforts of her lover, Grigory Orlov, and his family, who were powerful within the military.)

McNamara has been largely tight-lipped on the subject of the second season, except to say that ‘the ending of the first season changed due to an idea he had to move certain plot points to the second’ in an interview with Collider.

Which of the cast of the first season will return?

Very happily, Elle Fanning will return as Catherine the Great, Nicholas Hoult as Peter, Phoebe Fox as Catherine’s maid Merial, Sacha Dhawan as Orlov and Gwilym Lee as the Emperor’s right-hand man, Grigor Dymov. Douglas Hodge will also reappear as General Velementoc, the red-faced leader of the Russian army, and Adam Godley as religious adviser – and political animal – Archie. Whether Sebastian De Souza returns as Catherine’s lover Leo, is yet to be seen, given his presumed fate at the end of the first season.

Interestingly, McNamara originally pitched The Great in the style of The Crown, which swaps out actors as the story progresses through generations – but, in an interview with Collider he explained that he was delighted with the actors in the current roles so was planning to keep it as it is.

When can we expect The Great season 2?

Of course, dates are impossible to anticipate at the moment, but it will likely take over a year between the start of production and its eventual premiere date. This timeline is working off the back of the first season, which was officially ordered in February 2019 and took 15 months to hit Hulu. With that in mind, the earliest we can expect the second season of The Great would be autumn 2021, and that’s assuming that everything sticks to a normal schedule. [Source]

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