Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman stars in ITV’s epic new drama series Victoria this autumn.
Victoria (Coleman) comes to the throne at a time of great economic turbulence and resurgent republicanism – and died 64 years later the head of the largest empire the world had ever seen, having revitalised the throne’s public image and become ‘grandmother of Europe’.
The first season of Victoria, written by Daisy Goodwin, will tell the story of the first years of the reign, beginning with the moment of the Queen’s accession in 1837, following her first faltering steps from capricious, hormonal teenager with a weak grasp on her duties and responsibilities to her marriage to Albert.
Victoria is a saga of interlocking circles – the circuits of power in Buckingham Palace and Westminster, the intermarrying royal houses of Europe and the scandals of the below-stairs palace staff. At the centre stands the new Queen – a spirited, passionate woman who must, somehow, become an enduring icon of stability and strength.
The cast also includes Rufus Sewell (Parade’s End) as Lord Melbourne, Tom Hughes (The Game) plays Prince Albert, Eve Myles (Torchwood) as the Queen’s senior dresser, Alex Jennings (The Lady in the Van) as Leopold I, King of Belgium, Peter Firth (Spooks) as the Duke of Cumberland, Catherine Flemming (No Place to Go) as the Duchess of Kent, Paul Rhys (Being Human) as Sir John Conroy, Adrian Schiller (Suffragette) as Penge, Nichola McAuliffe (Coronation Street) as the Duchess of Cumberland, Daniela Holtz (Phoenix, Der Verdacht) as Victoria’s governess and confidante Baroness Lehzen, Nell Hudson (Outlander) as Miss Skerrett and Tommy-Lawrence Knight (The Sarah Jane Adventures) as the hall boy, Brodie.
Episode 1: ‘Doll No.123’
Sunday 28 August 2016, 9pm
When eighteen-year-old Victoria becomes Queen, her mother the Duchess of Kent, led by her advisor, Conroy, circle around the young monarch, itching to seize power. Hating Conroy and exasperated by her mother’s dependence on him, Victoria shuns them both.
Below stairs, the servants adjust to their new boss, Victoria’s trusted governess Lehzen. Jenkins, the Queen’s dresser, is incensed to learn that Lehzen has appointed her an assistant without consulting her, the mysterious Skerrett.
Victoria copes with the unknown with the help of her Prime Minister Lord Melbourne. They are enchanted by each other: Victoria by the older man’s erudite wisdom, and he by the young Queen’s irresistible guilelessness. Gossip erupts over the closeness of their relationship and Melbourne, fearing scandal, retreats, leaving Victoria prey to Conroy, who seizes the chance to take control and undermine the Queen.
Victoria rushes into an ill-considered accusation and the glory of her coronation is abruptly curtailed when she learns she has covered the crown in scandal.
Episode 2: ‘Ladies in Waiting’
Monday 29 August 2016, 9pm
As Melbourne’s popularity in the house wanes, the Tories eagerly await their imminent triumph. Most impatient of all is Victoria’s wicked uncle Cumberland, who views Melbourne’s pending defeat as a chance to prey on Victoria’s vulnerability and establish a co-regency with the Duchess of Kent and Conroy.
Victoria is devastated when Melbourne regretfully announces he is stepping down, and even more bewildered that she must ask a complete stranger, Sir Robert Peel, to form a government.
Desperate, Victoria implores Melbourne to return as her Prime Minister and is stumped when he rejects her – Peel is the rightful candidate. Unable to accept this, Victoria concocts a plan that humiliates Peel, leaving him no choice but to refuse to form government.
Episode 3: ‘Brocket Hall’
Sunday 4 September 2016, 9pm
A Chartist uprising in Newport underlines the instability of the monarchy.
Victoria’s uncle Leopold capitalises on this, urging Victoria to secure the monarchy by marrying her cousin Albert. Sensing an opportunity to a finally control the headstrong Queen, Conroy latches on to the plan. Victoria however demonstrates utter indifference to all suitors, because (as Leopold rightly suspects) the only man that really interests Victoria is her Prime Minister.
When the Chartists strike again, Victoria is compelled to confess the depth of her feelings to Melbourne. The distress of her senior dresser Jenkins at the brutal execution of the Chartists inspires Victoria to defy Melbourne’s harsh ruling and a more lenient sentence is granted. She is outraged to hear that Albert is arriving at Leopold’s behest.
Episode 4: ‘The Clockwork Prince’
Sunday 11 September 2016, 9pm
Victoria and Albert manage to offend each other within minutes of his arrival. Albert’s brother Ernest encourages him to flirt, but Albert is utterly humiliated by the situation.
His unease around Victoria manifests as moody insolence, at least that’s how she interprets it when she complains to Melbourne.
Secretly hoping to impress Albert, Victoria transports the household to Windsor, where the tension between Victoria, Melbourne and Albert escalates. As she grapples to understand her feelings she must ask herself whether she wants the flattery Melbourne has hitherto reassured her with, or if she is ready for the challenging truth which Albert represents.
Below stairs, the Royal servants clash with the Coburg princes’ haughty valet Lohlein and a girl called Eliza turns up at the palace asking Skerrett for money and insinuating that she is not who she says she is.
Episode 5: ‘An Ordinary Woman’
Sunday 18 September 2016, 9pm
In the precious stolen moments before Albert leaves for Coburg, he asks Victoria to secure a title and settlement for him before they marry. Victoria however is more preoccupied with telling Melbourne of her engagement.
In Coburg Albert fears for his future in England: husband to the most powerful woman in the world but without financial independence. Victoria meanwhile has let paranoia reign and has convinced herself that Albert only wants the money to support a mistress on the side.
Melbourne finally gives Victoria the approval of her fiancé she’s been seeking and at last she and Albert confront their deepest fears about married life.
Victoria says her last farewell to Melbourne before she and Albert nervously prepare for their wedding night.
Episode 6: ‘The Queen’s Husband’
Sunday 25 September 2016, 9pm
With no real role in the household, Albert feels worthless and matters are made worse when the Duke of Sussex refuses to let him take precedence at dinner.
Whilst a dejected Albert hopes that an heir might garner more respect, Victoria is determined to outmanoeuvre Sussex and give Albert the esteem he deserves.
Below stairs, the servants gossip over when to expect the first Royal baby and Skerrett faces a dilemma when the only person who can save her cousin and small child from imminent death is the person she trusts the least – Francatelli.
Albert has his own ideas about how to make himself valuable – he decides to open the anti-slavery convention and nervously prepares his speech.
Episode 7: ‘The Engine of Change’
Sunday 2 October 2016, 9pm
Victoria’s pregnancy raises the sticky topic of a Regency. When Victoria names Albert as the head of state in case of her death, the Tories are outraged by prospect of being ruled by a German prince.
Albert however is still desperate to have more influence in the present. He proposes a trip to the rapidly industrialising North in an attempt to engage with the country at large. Far from the thrilling journey he anticipated, Albert is humiliated by his Tory hosts and confused by Victoria’s insensitivity.
In this hostile environment Albert finds a kindred spirit in Sir Robert Peel and to his delight he invites Albert to visit his railway.
Below stairs, Lohlein is subject to similar antagonism for being foreign and back at the palace, Francatelli and Skerrett are starting to fall in love.
Episode 8: ‘Young England’
Sunday 9 October 2016, 9pm
A heavily pregnant Victoria is frustrated by both Albert and her mother’s attempts to confine her to the Palace. Cumberland arrives in London, hoping that Victoria may die in childbirth, as he is still the heir Presumptive.
Determined to show herself in public, Victoria goes for a drive and is accosted by an unhinged admirer, desperate to free her from her ‘German tyrant’.
Whilst Victoria is taken aback, she is resolute that it will not frighten her and despite Albert’s misgiving, goes out again.
Watch the trailer…
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