Mirren's majestic Elizabeth looks to break Dedlock in Britain's assault on Emmys

In a triumph for Channel 4 drama, Elizabeth I, based on the later years of the reign of the Virgin Queen, scooped 13 nominations for the US awards. It was the second-highest number of nominations, after the American mini-series Into The West, boding well for British drama at next month's ceremony.

Mirren is up against Gillian Anderson, nominated for her performance as Lady Dedlock in BBC1's adaptation of Bleak House, in the category of "outstanding lead actress in a mini-series or movie". Her co-stars, Jeremy Irons, who played the Earl of Leicester, and Hugh Dancy, who played Essex, are both nominated for best supporting actor.

Nigel Williams, the author of The Wimbledon Poisoner, who wrote the screenplay, has been nominated for best writer, while the director, Tom Hooper, is also up for an award.

The two-part drama, a co-production between Company Pictures for Channel 4 and the US network HBO, has been nominated for best mini-series and in the categories of art directing, casting, costumes, editing, sound mixing and hairstyling.

An average audience of 3.1 million watched Elizabeth I when it was aired in September 2005. The Independent's reviewer, Robert Hanks, said at the time: "I don't know why they can't just give Helen Mirren her own channel, UK Helen Gold."

The Channel 4 commissioning editor Francis Hopkinson said: "I am delighted that the drama has been so well received and acknowledged in the US. These nominations are fantastic for British television and it is great to see Helen's magnificent performance being celebrated."

The actress, who turns 61 this month, is soon to appear as Queen Elizabeth II in an ITV drama about the political fallout from the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, written by Stephen Frears.

As Elizabeth I, Mirren plays a woman torn between a sense of duty and her emotions. Its Bafta award-winning writer said at the time: "Told through the eyes of Elizabeth herself, this is the story of the woman behind the mask in a violent and turbulent age. A fiercely intelligent, outstandingly courageous and passionate woman, her tragedy was that her head and heart could never be reconciled."

Company Pictures also made the award-winning Shameless for Channel 4, as well as the Peter Cook biopic starring Rhys Ifans, Not Only But Always. Andrew Davies's adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House for BBC1 scooped 10 nominations for the US awards ceremony, which takes place on 27 August. Charles Dance has been nominated for best actor in a mini- series or movie, for his portrayal of the manipulative lawyer Mr Tulkinghorn. Rome, a big-budget co-production between the BBC and HBO, showing the seamier side of the ancient civilisation, won eight nominations. The Girl In The Café, Richard Curtis's romantic drama about the G8 summit starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald, scooped seven nominations.

British contenders

Elizabeth I

The two-part Channel 4 drama has 13 nominations, including best actress in a mini-series

Bleak House

Andrew Davies' BBC1 adaptation won 10 nominations, including best actress for Gillian Anderson, below


The BBC and HBO co-production received eight nominations

The Girl in the Café

Richard Curtis's romantic drama has seven nominations


Ricky Gervais's comedy won two nominations

Children of Beslan

The co-production between the BBC and HBO has one nomination

Gideon's Daughter

Stephen Poliakoff's drama won a nomination for its music and lyrics.

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