Friday, 23 December 2011

Nell Gwyn as you never thought you'd see her?

Phew! At last, all the singing done for 2011! This picture shows our last gig of the year, as Victorian carol singers at Gressenhall's Victorian Family Christmas event yesterday. Photo taken by 'The Artful Dodger' whose top hat can be seen in shadow behind us.

And I couldn't let the year end without including a picture of Martyn as Father Christmas, in Victorian green (by the way he arrived in Norfolk's oldest working vintage car, the lovely Panhard).
Merry Christmas!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Let's All Go To the Music Hall!

 Two quick pics of the cast of the Music Hall we performed at Weston Longville's tiny village hall to raise funds for the new hall soon to be replacing it. The show was very well received, with ladies from the village providing delicious hot cornish pasties in the interval. The set was dressed by another local lady, Stephanie McMillan, who just happens to be a set designer from the Harry Potter films (Oscar-nominated for three of them). Stephanie also won an Oscar for her set designs in The English Patient a few years ago, so we were in very good company!

Top photo, clockwise starting top left: The Entire Indefatiguable Orchestra aka The Rev. Selwyn Tillett, Mr Martyn Shults, Miss Abilgail Dennington-Price, Mr John Griffin. Miss Gillian Tichbourne, Miss Angela Rowe (kneeling), Miss Rachel Duffield and finally your own- your very own- Miss Cassie Tillett!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

If He Were The Only Boy in the World...?!

Mr Linnet and Miss Dove, as they appeared in the Victorian Dining Room at Strangers' Hall, Norwich, yesterday. A few parlour songs, a few classical arias, and couple of music hall ditties! Very well received.

Monday, 14 November 2011

She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas*

Wotcher! 'Ave a banana! Cor blimey! Martyn and I will be performing lots of Victorian music hall songs this December.

But first, on Saturday 3rd December Queen Elizabeth I will be opening the Medieval Christmas Fair at Dragon Hall, Norwich. She will then be fastforwarding 300 years to sing Victorian Parlour Songs and Carols at Stranger's Hall, Norwich, for the rest of the day.

Then it's Victoriana all the way to Christmas...

On Saturday 10th December we will be joining the VocalScore troupe at Weston Longville Village Hall for the full Old Tyme Music Hall, a fundraiser for both the local Church, and the hall itself.

On Saturday 17th December we will be returning to Blickling Hall's Garden Room with the Upper Octave !! This is modern dress and part of Blickling's Christmassy events schedule. We'll be there on and off all day, singing musical theatre and popular operatic favourites, so do drop in- the acoustics are great there!

On Tuesday 20th and Thursday 22nd December we will be back in the Victorian costumes for traditional carol singing at Gressenhall's Victorian Family Christmas. Other activities will include making an old-fashioned Christmas card, attempting to create the World's Longest Paper Chain, and entertainment from a genuine Victorian magic lantern show.

And then I think we may put our feet up and eat a couple of mince pies.

* or should that be 'She Sits Among the Cabbages and Leeks'??- either way, it's a song that got Edwardian music hall diva Marie Lloyd into trouble. Reassuringly, our Music Hall will be similarly filled with 19th century innuendo.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ding Dong the Witch is - um, slightly bruised! And Ding Dong Merrily on High for all the carols coming up.

...A very grainy picture, uploaded from my mobile, of me playing Witch Hazel at Gressenhall's Family Fun Halloween event last weekend. Predictably, I did indeed fall off (or rather 'over') my broomstick, and I have the bruises to show for it!

Throughout November and December, Queenie-ing will give way to carolling. Together with various musical colleagues I'll be singing in Victorian guise for carols at Gressenhall and Christmas parlour songs at Stranger's Hall. Then with the Upper Octave, more carols at The Nationsl Trust's Blickling Hall, and with Vocal Score an Old Tyme Music Hall at Yarmouth and at Weston Longville. Here's a picture from last year at Gressenhall...


Not forgetting (how could we) the final showing of the Upper Octave's 2011 Bizet to Broadway concert at Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre on Sunday December 4th. Here's one of our lovely photos taken, coincidentally , at Blickling Hall earlier this year...


Check out the 'See Rachel here' page for details of dates and times!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Saintly Edwardian, Very Victorian, 'Witch' is it to be?

This week I spent a lovely couple of days in the Lake District, looking at all things Beatrix Potter. I didn't realise until this week that she bought up 2,500 acres of the area in order to conserve it for the National Trust after her death. A very special legacy in addition to the obvious Peter Rabbit connection. I am inspired for my next academic year's project: to develop and deliver 'Beatrix Potter' sessions; literacy, nature studies art and conservation all in one amazing lady. Should be good. And of course, I will need to make a new costume (hurrah!!) as alike to the one pictured as I can manage.

Tomorrow I'll be the 'Main Speaker' at a big WI Federation meeting in West Norfolk, as Queen Victoria. Info about the WI can be found here http://www.thewi.org.uk/  

And on Saturday I will be 'The Witch' at Gressenhall's fabulous 'Witches in the Workhouse' Halloween Family Fun event. For more info on this, follow this link: http://www.events.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/public_events.aspx?id=515

My job is to be inappropriate, shriek, cackle, and cause havoc. A role for which I have been researching and practicing for the last 38 years.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Tha'as Brooke. As we say in Norfolk.

I visited Brooke WI last night to do Queen Elizabeth I. An unexpected delight, due to many of the ladies knowing my Grandparents, who lived and worked in that village in the 1960s. Unfortunately they both passed away a long time ago, and I don't remember Grannie at all before Alzheimer's took a thorough hold on her faculties. But these ladies knew her well in her prime, and remembered her excellent artichoke soup, fabulously light scones and her tremendous enthusiasm for Mothering Sunday (as Vicar's wife she took great pride in commanding the snowdrops to be in bloom in time for the Sunday Service- they always acquiesed!). They recalled, as I do, Grandad always on the verge of being late for everything and always arriving everywhere in a great hurry. I was able to furnish them with the reason: the family legend of Grannie, unable to leave the house without baking a batch if the oven was 'just the right temperature for scones'. A lovely evening.

After listening to me speak as Queenie, these ladies declared that I have inherited many of Grannie's mannerisms. Shame I didn't inherit the cooking ability too!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Review from a Customer (well, kind of)...


VALE PROBUS CLUB


A VISIT FROM QUEEN VICTORIA!





"Our October meeting was one of our biennial Ladies Lunches, to which we welcomed as our guest Rachel Duffield, who is one of the “Learning Team” at Gressenhall Rural Life Museum (and also my daughter, just to declare my interest at the outset of this report!). 


She vanished from the room during the after-lunch coffee, and, a few minutes later, we were intrigued to see the famous 19th century monarch appear, dressed only in her shift!  This was the start of a fascinating presentation in which she produced one by one all the layers of clothes and accoutrements Victoria would have worn in the mid-1860s while in mourning for Albert three years after his death.  As it was donned, each one had its own story wittily and informatively told, until there in front of us stood the veiled Widow of Windsor as portrayed in the well-known pictures. To finish off she paraded round among her subjects and graciously answered the many questions they had.


This portrayal of Victoria is a recent development of Rachel’s freelance work and builds on a similar demonstration of Good Queen Bess which a number of members and guests had previously seen. The making and assembly of the Victoria outfit has formed a summer-long project for Rachel and her mother, involving sweat, tears and frustration as well as faltering sewing machines, deciphering old patterns, scouring charity shops and delving into family collections of lace and jewellery! 


Much appreciation was expressed for an entertaining afternoon.  Next month’s guest is Chris Alcross telling us about Norfolk Wherries. 


Membership enquiries always welcome!  We meet at 12.15 for lunch around  12.45, followed by a speaker, on the first Thursday of every month at the Costessey Park Golf Club, off West End, Old Costessey. If you’re interested in what we do, please contact our Secretary, Dan Gentle on 01603 866441 or email dangentle@talktalk.net


Chris Hurst"





Saturday, 1 October 2011

Crouching Bumroll, Hidden Queenie

Busy times. Lots of Queenie-ing, both eras, many venues- all great stuff. And in between times I have been doing many Upper Octave shows as myself, and working at Gressenhall as a Victorian washerwoman and a 1940s housewife. I need a Tardis!!

'Queen Victoria' went to the teeniest village hall in the world at Roughton and chatted to the WI there, then she also spoke for the Friends of Ancient House, Thetford, most ably assisted, in the latter, by Karen White.

My most recent visit was to Worlingham Primary in Suffolk, a visit immediately preceded by my unexpected arrival at (and swift, guffawing departure from,) Worlingham Pharmacy - should've gone to Specsavers??!!

Having exchanged excellent preparatory emails with Worlingham's year 5 teacher Matthew Brown, I spoke to two classes as Queen Elizabeth I, as a kick-off to their history topic this term. As I'm usually the end-of-term event, this was a new angle for all of us, but the costume had great impact and the children were full of brilliant questions.

Royalty has had to resort to strange behaviour to avoid detection in the past. Think of King Charles up the oak tree, or the 'Bonnie Prince' diguised as a woman. Therefore I didn't mind at all when I had to squat in the kitchen as the children filed past for Assembly, so as not to spoil the surprise. Not sure what Bess herself may have thought of it though!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Mourning Glory, or, She Stopped Being Amused.

She's here! After weeks, nay, months of effort from me (fiddly bits/crinoline construction/jacket) and mum (dressmaking), 'Queen Victoria' has finally been set sail in all her black be-taffetared misery.
Far from miserable though, was the launch party- or rather, the reception QV got at her first outing, to the Norfolk Lacemakers society, meeting at Norwich City College on Saturday.

Here's a couple more photos, with thanks to Anne, Lady Prince-Smith, for allowing the use of her beautiful home Morton Hall, and thanks to my friend and web site designer Cassie Tillet for taking the pictures.
Also not forgetting the patient and photogenic Honey !
Many more photos are available on my QueenieLives Facebook page:

Friday, 26 August 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the Regicides

Another wonderful day at Elizabethan House on the South Quay at Great Yarmouth yesterday.

This time I was attended not only by the House's usual band of willing and superb volunteers, but I also finally got to meet and work with Mandy London, she of Hands On The Past (www.handsonthepast.net).

Mandy was instructing visiting children- and adults, where required- on Elizabethan calligraphy, in the the room in which, according to legend, the death warrant of King Charles I was signed.

I was doing my usual Queenie costume talk in the room next door, and Mandy joined me to be fabulously obsequious in all the right places...to be repeated next week- Thursday 1st September, 12-4pm, to be precise.

Do come along! 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

From Diamonte to Deerstalker

Dragon Hall is a medieval merchant hall in one of Norwich's oldest thoroughfares, King Street. Yesterday, I took Queenie there to speak to about twenty or so very enthusiastic young listeners and their well behaved accompanying adults. One young lady was even dressed in her own Tudor clothes. After my talk, we made bejewelled paper ruffs, and masks of  Elizabeth I and Henry VIII. It was a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon's work.

As it was a Yoof-full clientele, I directed a lot of my customers towards both my website, www.queenielives.co.uk, and to my Queenielives Facebook page. I also drummed up a bit of interest in my QueeniePegs, which have been lamentably neglected recently...but watch this space.

Queen Victoria is nearly finished, thanks to my own efforts and those of my mum, which are much appreciated, particularly the insertion of the sleeves. "Mrs Brown's" first royal walkabout will be on September 3rd, for the Norfolk Lacemakers.

Following on from my day at Christchurch Mansion as Beatrix Potter I've also been approached to talk as that particular eccentric lady! So, anyone know where I can buy a ladies deerstalker?!!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Brilliant photos by Antonella Muscat











This series of pictures shows me transforming from 2011 Rachel to 1578 Queenie. Imagine this taking 45 minutes in front of an audience, with me talking all the time, and you've got the general idea of my freelance work...

Monday, 1 August 2011

Knickerless Cage

Did you know some of Queen Victoria's knickers had a 56 inch waistline?

Anyway, without bloomers, this is a quick pic of my 'first draft' Queen Victoria crinoline...


Afterword
Just a little note, added in November 2011: It has been bemusing me for some time why this, of all my posts, consistently gets the most hits. Innocent little rose that I am, it's only just dawned on me that its probably because it has the word 'knickerless' in the title.
Sorry to disappoint those hoping for something more salacious. 

One Does Like To Be Beside The Seaside

I spent a happy two days in Great Yarmouth this week; firstly, as Queenie at Elizabethan House on the South Key http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-elizabethanhousemuseum, and then as a Roman Lady at the Time & Tide Museum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_and_Tide_Museum.




Elizabethan House is owned by the National Trust and managed by NMAS. The volunteers there were exceptionally welcoming and friendly, which got the day off to a flying start.

The building has rooms in a variety of settings and eras. After a quick publicity jaunt around Yarmouth in full costume, I spent all day in the Tudor Bedroom, dressing and undressing several times for the benefit of the nation. My final talk of the day happened to be to a group of National Trust people from Lavenham, with a senior Norfolk museums manager in tow. They were most appreciative, which is always a relief!!

No photos yet available from Elizabethan House, but I have attached some from my Roman day at Time & Tide. The excellent Steve Stigwood was outside being a Legionary all day, but the chap with me in the picture isn't him... A rather different look for Queenie!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

AWOOGA!!! Guest Blogger!! Norfolk Museums' very own Katie Smith...

I am delighted to announce the first in what I hope will be a long line of Guest Bloggers to the What Queenie Did Next site.


Katie Smith is the Learning Officer at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, and very good at it she is too. In this article she writes about a recent Early Years & Key Stage 1 event there; Once Upon A Time: The Museum of Fairytales.




Once upon a time, not so long ago, 300 schoolchildren visited the Museum of Fairytales at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. Over the course of three days in June and July, we ran Once Upon A Time, a new schools event aimed at younger children. During the event, children developed their communication skills and understanding of traditional stories, whilst having lots of fun! After its successful pilot days, Once Upon A Time is set to be a regular feature in the dynamic programme of learning events that Gressenhall offers local schools.

The day started in the chapel where the children awaited excitedly the grand opening of the Museum of Fairytales by the (slightly batty) Curator, played by Jan Pitman. He’s worked hard to build up a collection of fairytale objects, including the golden egg, Thumbelina’s walnut shell bed and the Pied Piper’s rat. Special guests were invited too: the gallant Jack (our very own Rachel Duffield) and the beautiful Cinderella, played by Annette Philipps. On unveiling his brand new displays it is discovered that…the objects had all been stolen by the cackling Wicked Witch!

The children had to discover where the Wicked Witch (Katie Smith) had hidden all the fairy tale objects and report back to the curator. With no objects to look at in the museum, the other fairytale characters offered to keep the children busy until everything has been found…

There were plenty of opportunities to explore the site and to take part in fairy tale activities. These included a Beanstalk Quest with Jack in the Woodland Playground; making wands and crafting crowns in Cherry Tree Cottage, stirring up potions with the Wicked Witch in Centenary Woods and cleaning the farmhouse with poor old Cinders and her two Ugly Sisters! The children also greatly enjoyed hunting for the stolen fairy tale objects, hidden around the site by the Wicked Witch!

The three days were a resounding success and much fun was had by children and adults alike! Miss C. Hindry from Whitefriars Primary School wrote:

We attended your ‘Grand Opening’ for the Museum of Fairytales and were incredibly impressed with the amount of enthusiasm and detail you had included into the day. It was obvious that a huge amount of time and effort had been put into creating what was an exciting and memorable day and both the staff and children thoroughly enjoyed themselves…it gave the children an experience they will never forget. They took in every detail and in their written work about the day it was apparent just how much they were immersed in the whole experience.’

And Tomass, aged 6, said: ‘Thank you for letting us come. Thank you for the adventures Jack and everyone. I loved the rat because I love rats. The witch was silly and naughty but I thought it was funny.’

The Learning department would like to thank all the volunteers who supported these events (Barbara Slattery, Christine Walters, Debbie Craine, Fred Bragg Gillian Wilcox, Jill Lamb, Sue Rogers and Veronica Phillips) and especially to Hannah Jackson, our Sustainability Project Officer, who heroically stepped into the role of Jack when Rachel lost her voice!

Needless to say, the Wicked Witch got her comeuppance at the end of the day. Jack turned her into a museum object, using the immortal line ‘Don’t be such a flibberdy jibbet…I turn you into a museum exhibit!’ With this new addition to the collection, the Museum of Fairytales opened to much excitement and critical acclaim. And, of course, the Curator and the fairytale characters… all lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What's on at Dragon Hall this summer- oh, it's me!!

www.dragonhall.org

Click on this link to see what's happening at Norwich's gorgeous medieval merchant hall this summer.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Who is the fairest of them all?

I spent most of Saturday in St Mary's Church, Great Witchingham. This was a superb venue for having my photo taken by Antonella Muscat www.antonellamuscatphotography.co.uk. The rector's wife was also there taking pictures of us both. I've included a couple of her excellent snaps but you will need to see my facebook page QueenieLives to access the whole lot.



When Antonella has worked her magic on the 'real' ones, I'll post some of those here too.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Tale of The Lovely Day


Beautiful weather greeted me at Christchurch Mansion yesterday. In this, my second vist, Queenie was reincarnated as children's author and watercolour artist, Beatrix Potter.
I had a wonderful time reading aloud HBP's beautifully illustrated stories to groups of , thankfully, beautifully behaved children. In between storytelling sessions, I broke out the watercolours for the first time in years and did a few sketches of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck (these proved to be the most popular stories of the day).
Having spent lots of time copying HBP's painting style - mainly unsuccessfully - as a teenager (I was a real rock 'n' roll raver, as you can tell) it was a treat to live the dream as the lady herself, sitting under a tree in a sunlit park, dabbling in watercolours and sipping iced water. Here are my efforts ...

An Edwardian Idyll! Then Martyn stumbled and sprained his ankle, and I spilt paintwater all over my work. Ho hum.

Stately as a Galleon: Queenie launches Armada Costume



Some pictures of my visit to The Norman Primary today. A first outing for the finally completed 1588 Armada costume- and of course, the 1574 came too!

And did those feet...

Last Thursday I visited another WI, this time at Pulham St Mary, which is nice and local to me. We (the Royal 'We') had a select but enthusiastic band of subjects.
It occurred to me whilst struggling into my highly elasticated invisible underwear prior to my talk - as usual to the strains of 'Jerusalem'- that in all the many WIs I have visited, each one of them has had an available pianist to accompany the singing of their famous theme tune; yet when one needs a rehearsal pianist for our concert group The Upper Octave http://www.theupperoctave.com, there is scarcely one to be found in the whole of Norfolk.
It's strangely atmospheric to listen to Jerusalem as I slap on my clown make up and don my ginger wig. Rather a different sort of 'countenance divine' I suppose.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Petticoat Government















These pics show me doing my stuff (in reverse) at Dragon Hall a while ago, starting off in my shift and adding all the bits and pieces to become Queen Elizabeth I.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Lark Rise* to Cringleford

Cringleford WI hosted their group meeting this Monday and extended a very warm welcome not only to their co-WIs, but also to their speaker, a strange woman who dresses up as Queen Elizabeth I- oh, that's me.

I had a lovely chat with lots of the ladies afterwards, including a lady who voluntees at Oxburgh Hall. She corroborated one of my Oxburgh anecdotes- Phew! Always worried that someone will correct me on some dreadful factual error I've inadvertantly made. My facts always start out right, but sometimes memory or the heat of the moment fails me and there is a possibility I may talk gibberish.

Anyway. Cringleford. Home of possibly the most delicious cherry-topped biscuits I have tasted.

*Lark Rise is genuinely a road in Mulbarton, where I live. And I travelled to Cringleford. It's a TV programme...oh, never mind.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A Touchy Feely Monday Afternoon

I visited the ladies of the Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind (NNAB) at King's Lynn on Monday, and gave them a 'Touch Tour' of my Queenie dress as part of their reminiscence therapy sessions.

Leading touch tours was a skill I learned whilst working at Norwich Castle Museum a few years ago, and it combines painting a lavish picture with words, using detailed description of size, colour, manufacturing techniques and so on, plus a chance to feel the clothes or objects themselves.

I was pleased at how well it went. It's tricky to describe the look and the feel of what I'm wearing and so on, and still remember the historical context and all the anecdotal touches and appropriate humour, whilst simultaneously adjusting vocabulary for the very variable ability and comprehension levels amongst the audience. Get it right, and everyone enjoys the session and learns something without either feeling 'talked down to' or feeling that it was 'way above their head'. This skill is often overlooked- perhaps that's why Live Interpreters like myself are so poorly paid by museums and county councils. But these skills are the things which make all the difference in my line of work.


The ladies invited me to join in with their tea and cake afterwards- delicious!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Variety Theatre

Queenie has had a very busy week.

On Sunday I completed my latest essay on qualitative v quantitative sociological research methods.

On Monday night I visited Drayton VH to speak to yet another WI of lovely ladies. A few familiar faces were there; mothers of people I went to school with, mainly! There, I was called upon to judge not one but two competitions. 1) Pegdolls, 2) Flower Of The Month.

I felt qualified to judge the pegdolls, after all, www.queeniepegs.co.uk is all but up and running thanks to the fabulous work and indeed, patience, of my friend Cassie. But who am I to judge one flower against another?! A pansy, versus a rose, versus an iris?* Luckily this was all after I had done my Talk, so I was able to judge and run.

From an evening of being 16th century royalty on Monday, Tuesday at Gressenhall began two days of being a very 21st century environmentalist, followed by Thursday morning as a 19th century unmarried mother with bad attitude- and a quick burst of jovial Farmer's Wife in the afternoon.

But the pinnacle of my work this week was Gressenhall's contribution to Museums At Night in which I played a Workhouse Madwoman as part of a Victorian Whodunnit.

What a week! But I'd never go back to I working in an office!

*In the end I chose the iris, because it was blue, and that very day I had been disappointed by the irises in my own garden coming out yellow. I'm not particularly against yellow irises, but in my defence, I know nothing of the finer points of flowers, so my rationale had to be rather arbitrary.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Nessun Dorma* at Dragon Hall











These pictures show the second Cub Scout Sleepover at Dragon Hall, Norwich, http://www.dragonhall.org/ , held last night. Organised by the small and energetic Sarah Power (left), it featured Dave the Yarnsmith of Norwich, Tim Wilson the Medieval Armourer (http://www.knighttime.1free.ws/) , Liam the Storyteller and of course, me -behind the camera for once.

The Cubs and Scouts took part in activities to do with knights, dragons and swords, were fed hot dogs (toasted by dragons, presumably) and given hot chocolate before they settled down to sleep. Sleep- who am I kidding? 75 Cubs and Scouts together overnight in a spooky hall? Sleep? Not a chance.

My part in all this was not, for once, to be Queen. I ran 5 forty minute drama sessions from 8 till 11.15 pm. Although the children were getting progressively more tired and less able to concentrate, we had enormous fun the in the beautiful (but fffreeeezing) glass gallery.


I used Patrice Baldwin's Drama For Creative Learning techniques (see http://www.patricebaldwin.com/), which allow the children to find their own story. And they found some brilliant ones! From the traditional maiden-on-a-hillside solution, to trapping the dragon in a crystal cage or having it vapourised by aliens, the children were determined to conquer that nasty dragon. And every session was totally different.


I was able to escape just after 11.15. I have yet to discover the fate of adults doomed to stay all night...



*translation: None Shall Sleep.

Monday, 11 April 2011

NEET and tidy


Last Friday I spent a happy 5 hours in King's Lynn with a group of young people who fall into the bracket the Government calls N.E.E.T (Not in Employment, Education or Training). Working with Marie Kennedy, Norfolk Museums' excellent Youth Engagement Officer, we made one of a series of short films featuring their chosen theme: Women In History.

Unsurprisingly, I was asked to be Queen Elizabeth I. After a most enjoyable standard costume session we had a very interesting discussion on being in line to the throne (or rather, not being in line to the throne, as the case may be), religious reform, Elizabeth's habit of 'claiming' jewellery for the good of the Nation, and of course, why she stayed unmarried. This informal discussion of women's status created quite a heated response from both the young women and the young men in the group. Then on to the filming.

The group has used the style of a different popular TV programme for each film. They've 'done' Jeremy Kyle, Eastenders and CSI in previous weeks, and it happened that in my week, it was Big Brother. So, Queenie became a Housemate, stealing others' jewellery, refusing to tidy up and generally being regally obnoxious. We had a diary room, which allowed the shyer members to shine in front of the camera for a moment or two, and Marie played a brilliant Davina (please don't swear, you're live on TV) McCall.

The group members discussed, wrote, directed and filmed all the scenes themselves, using their observations from watching the series to look for stereotypical characters and behaviour to include. They also found innovative yet relevant ways to incorporate a 16th century monarch into the format- I'm not sure if Queenie has ever been asked, "so, are you single, then?" in quite that way before!!

Working with these young people was incredibly satisfying. They were totally engaged in the project, open to learning new things, and keen to make connections between the historical facts and their own experiences of life today.

The funding for so many of these fantastic projects is being cut as part of today's drive for austerity. Many of the groups Marie has worked so hard to form partnerships with over the last two years, in order to keep such worthwhile youth projects flourishing, have already disappeared.

Queen Elizabeth I was renowned for her reluctance to authorise executions; if only the current Government showed similar restraint when wielding the axe.