In 1554, England is ruled by the fervently Catholic Queen Mary (Kathy Burke), whose persecution of Protestants even extends to her own half-sister, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett). When Mary dies, Elizabeth succeeds to the throne, but finds her country under threat from the Scots, French and Spanish. Although conducting an affair with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester (Joseph Fiennes), Elizabeth is urged by her advisors to wed and produce an heir. Meanwhile, plots against her are being hatched by the Catholic bishops, and Elizabeth soon becomes the target of an assassination attempt. Cate Blanchett was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and won a BAFTA in recognition of her performance.