Born 200 years ago today at Kensington Palace, Princess Victoria would become Queen to a massive empire, and a reference quality royal for millions across the globe. Public adoration for the Royal Family reached its pinnacle under her reign, and today her life continues to inspire TV series and film productions.
On-screen portrayals range from Rose Tapley, whose played the monarch in the 1912 silent film The Victoria Cross, right up to Jenna Coleman in ITV’s smash hit series Victoria. On the big screen Emily Blunt’s Young Victoria and Judi Dench’s double bill of Mrs. Brown and Victoria & Abdul form the usual impression, however on the small screen Coleman has set quite a standard. The public’s fascination with the Royals shows no signs of abatement, and with the third season of the show enjoying its DVD release this week there’s never been a better time to catch up.
In the last ten years ITV have made serious ground on the BBC’s long-standing record of period dramas. Victoria, headed by producer and novelist Daisy Goodwin, is perfect Sunday evening entertainment. At its heart is the love story between Coleman’s Victoria and Hughes’ Albert, and this human drama helps the series to easily cross the centuries to make their world relevant to ours.
Daisy Goodwin, in an interview with the Radio Times, has said:
“History is basically storytelling, and the monarchy is an integral part of the story we tell ourselves as a nation.”
It may be that our GCSE History classes were the last time we thought of the Anglo-Afghan War, the Chartist movement or the Corn Laws, but the human dilemmas explored by the show help bring the story behind the history to life. Much is made of the central romance between Victoria and Albert, however the many jealousies and intrigue at court help to skillfully blend the public and private lives.
Nowhere is this more in evidence than the show’s handling of many defining events of Victoria’s early reign. While the public bay like hungry wolves at the palace gates for news of the arrival of another of the Queen’s many offspring the show does not hesitate to show the post-partum depression Victoria suffered behind closed doors. Likewise personal losses against the backdrop of the Great Hunger, and a difficult birth during a fierce Chartist protest at the palace gates, give us an emotional landscape to set against the cold facts of the history books.
For the end of the second season ITV commissioned a Christmas special of the show, perhaps the most fitting tribute to the most visible and enduring of Victoria and Albert’s influence on the way we live now. It was the centerpiece of ITV’s Christmas evening schedule and featured all the politicking and personal turbulence of the series. It also marked a culmination to much of the emotional conflict between Victoria and Albert, giving them (and us) the first traditional Christmas and setting the series up for a third season.
That third season aired earlier this year and is now available to buy on DVD. It promises more protests, an increasing number of foreign family members arriving at the Palace, gunboat diplomacy and one of the century’s most auspicious events – The Great Exhibition.
On the 200th anniversary of her birth the long reign of affection towards Queen Victoria is stronger than ever.
Victoria Series Three is on Digital Download, Blu-ray and DVD now.
Victoria Series One – Three is also available on Blu-ray and DVD.