Boudica takes the movies by storm

East Anglia's warrior queen has never been so popular. Fresh from a television adaptation, the legendary flame-haired Boudica is set to star in not one, but four films.

East Anglia's warrior queen has never been so popular.

Fresh from a television adaptation, the legendary flame-haired Boudica is set to star in not one, but four films.

The Iceni heroine is being brought to life by Mel Gibson and his company, Icon Productions, partly funded by the profits of his blockbuster The Passion of the Christ. The film, to be called Warrior, will be directed by Gavin O'Connor.

Also in the pipeline is Warrior Queen, a collaboration between Paramount and Tribeca, to be written by David Auburn. Then there is Queen Fury, from Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studio, and a fourth project called My Country.

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Though already dubbed "Braveheart with a bra", it is unlikely that all four films will reach our cinemas. The first to be ready will have the best chance of success, while the last two may be dropped for a few years.

Little is known about Boudica, but she was almost certainly from our region. John Davies, chief curator at Norfolk Museums, said archaeologists had identified the main Iceni sites.

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"The three major sites were at Caistor St Edmund, Thetford and Saham Toney. I think it's very likely that Boudica spent part of her time at each site, moving around with her family and many of her material possessions."

Even if Boudica was a Norfolk girl, the chances of Hollywood filming here for historical authenticity are remote.

Edward Lawrenson, deputy editor of the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine, said an East Anglian location was unlikely.

"The films are in development at the moment, which probably means they haven't decided where they are going to shoot them. I doubt it is going to be in Norfolk. Troy was this great Greek epic and it was shot in Mexico. A lot of these films are shot in Eastern Europe because it is cheaper."

But films about Boudica could still benefit the region.

Lionel Chivers, from the Cockley Cley Iceni Village, near Swaffham, said: "Anything about Boudica will promote interest in the Iceni village.

"The television programmes we have had have created some interest. I notice many of the visitors here do comment on the programmes."

Alex Kingston recently brought the warrior queen to life on our screens in a television series. And earlier this month, Peter Snow and his son, Dan, opened their series on British battles with Boudica's revolt.

But Dr Davies said previous screen adaptations were unreliable and too heavily based on a few lines by the Roman historian Tacitus.

He said: "I get very bored with the same old stereotype story coming out. I am sure these films will do the same. They tend to look at the old Tacitus material which may be mostly Roman propaganda."

He said he would be happy to show Mel Gibson the archaeological remains of Iceni sites.

"It would be much more imaginative to look at the exciting new material that is coming out of the ground now. I would like to take them out into the field and look at the sites. There is a more exciting story out there than film companies tend to use."

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