I don’t envy our hero in this second episode of ITV’s Victoria, surrounded by unpleasant losers who all want her job, and who think they can exploit her because she’s wee.
But if history is anything to go by, she’ll show them.
A very exciting development, however, is the installation of gas in the palace – which would be an exciting time indeed, if it weren’t for the rat infestation that’s discovered as a result of taking up some wainscoting, which makes for a fun Downstairs B-plot to counterpoint the unrelenting feels going on Upstairs.
Nevertheless, it’s a joy to watch Victoria’s staff adjust to new innovations: trying to work out how to switch on the gas (as someone who’d only ever used electric hobs until the ripe old age of 30 myself, I feel this) and installing an ice room. Times are changing, and it’s quite exciting to see! (Where’s Mrs Patmore from Downton to have a technology-induced comedy meltdown when you need her?)
Meanwhile, it’s indeed feelsy elsewhere as dear Lord M finds himself having to give up his job, to Victoria’s immense disappointment. It’s a difficult political reality for a couple of friends, but no, Victoria is despondent, and really really doesn’t want a new government.
Slightly insufferable Tory Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay) makes a visit to the queen to ask for form a government. More mansplaining! Nothing makes me squirmier, even in a historical setting, than old-skool condescending attitudes towards women, and the suggestion from all of the whispering dissenters and pretend-friends here that, oh gosh, she’s got an unstable temperament – in other words, she’s just too much of an emotional girl to be queen – are unpleasantly symptomatic of that attitude.
Especially yucky Uncle Cumberland (Peter Firth), who clearly only has his own best interests at heart, but is much too much of a poop to be allowed anywhere near a throne, frankly. Likewise Conroy. She’s just too hysterical to be queen, let’s gaslight her into a regency! How very despicable those gentlemen are. Of course she got spooked by rats at her birthday party! I hope they get a social disease.
And all this over which nice ladies comprise Victoria’s circle of friends. At least it all works out in the end, which is awfully nice.
Aired at 9pm on Monday 29 August 2016 on ITV.
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