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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Royal dramas for Channel 4 season
Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I
Prime Suspect star Helen Mirren takes the lead role in Elizabeth I
Two Channel 4 dramas will cast Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I and show Princess Margaret taking drugs and having sex.

Prime Suspect actress Mirren will star in two-part film Elizabeth I, alongside Jeremy Irons and Hugh Dancy.

Meanwhile The Queen's Sister is billed as a "witty and irreverent royal romp", following Princess Margaret's busy social life in the 1950s and 1960s.

In its autumn schedule Channel 4 will also study the battle of The Somme, ahead of next year's 90th anniversary.

'Most glamorous figure'

Channel 4's director of television Kevin Lygo described the portrayal of the Queen's late sister Margaret as "quite arresting and challenging".

It will show Princess Margaret at a time when "she was absolutely the most glamorous public female figure in a Diana-like way in her own era".

"And then it all went a bit wrong," Mr Lygo added. "It's factually accurate and it's a racy romp."

The Queen's Sister
Lucy Cohu (right) plays Princes Margaret in The Queen's Sister
In one scene the princess is depicted having a lesbian kiss while another shows her smoking "a strange cigarette" at a London party.

Other drama in Channel 4's autumn schedule includes Legless, about Britain's drink culture, and The Ghost Squad, following an undercover detective rooting out corruption in the police force.

Documentary I Killed John Lennon follows killer Mark Chapman's obsession with the star while The Year London Blew Up: 1974 looks at the IRA's bombing campaign.

As part of its series of programmes on the Somme, the channel aims to collect the thousands of names of the dead inscribed on the all of the UK's World War I memorials onto a single website for the first time.

Viewers will be able to upload pictures, texts and documents, as well as personal effects onto the site, launched with the Imperial War Museum under UK National Inventory of War Memorial.

Peep Show
Sitcom Peep Show will return for a third series
The Baby Race will follow 35 single women in their 30s as they try to conceive over the course of a year, while Who Killed the British Sitcom? looks at the sharp drop in UK sitcoms commissioned over the past 20 years.

Sitcom Peep Show will return for a third series, however, while new comedy show Spoons will feature sketches looking at relationships among people in their 30s.

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons will try to teach English teenagers how to be guitar gods in Rock School.

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay will appear in Italian culinary adventure Jamie's Great Escape and topical weekly show The F Word respectively.

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