Jenna Coleman as Victoria 'Victoria' TV show - 2016 - Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Jenna Coleman as Victoria – ‘Victoria’ TV show – 2016 – Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock

The royal wait is over: the first episode of new drama Victoria airs tonight on ITV. Ahead of the broadcast, leading lady Jenna Coleman has spoken about playing Britain’s second longest-reigning monarch.

“She lived an extraordinary life,” comments the former Clara Oswald actress. “She had this wonderful spirit and humour alongside it”. She describes Victoria as “one of the most prolific journal writers in history, writing around 62 million words”. Jenna says that she is grateful for having such “extensive access” to the Queen. “You can just see it spilling out over the page, this passionate young woman who…never lost her strength”.

Jenna even kept a notebook of words she uses to describe Victoria: “impulsive”“passionate”“guileless”“self-willed”. It’s clear that the Queen must have been a complex character to play.

Jenna Coleman as Victoria 'Victoria' TV show - 2016 - Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Jenna Coleman as Victoria – ‘Victoria’ TV show – 2016 – Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Becoming Queen Victoria

The transformation from Jenna to Victoria was “a lengthy process”, particularly when it came to choosing contact lenses. Jenna needed to have Victoria’s blue eyes, a feature that “really sticks out” from her portraits:

“There were a couple that made me look like a white walker from Game of Thrones. …I would rehearse in the lenses and I kept them in all of the time. …to look at yourself in the mirror and see yourself completely different is fantastic.”

It wasn’t just the look though, as Jenna had to learn a whole new set of skills for the role:

“It was very interesting because one I got the job it was a matter of three weeks before I had to be on horseback riding on camera, ballroom dancing and playing the piano. I managed to get some Beethoven down. I have a piano in my house and have been wanting to learn for ages so it was the perfect opportunity. 

Apparently, Victoria was also a talented opera singer, but Jenna says “I’m not so sure I would get those skills up to par but we will see!”

Jenna Coleman as Victoria and Tom Hughes as Albert 'Victoria' TV show - 2016 - Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Jenna Coleman as Victoria and Tom Hughes as Albert – ‘Victoria’ TV show – 2016 – Photo by ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Victoria and Albert

Of course, one of the major parts of the series will be Victoria’s relationship with her husband Albert. Jenna describes the two famous royals as having a “ying and yang” relationship:

“They were an awfully ambitious and busy couple. Albert had many of his own, huge endeavours and Victoria designed all of her own dresses and chose her own fabrics.”

“They were good and bad for each other at the same time. Their rows were extremely fraught but everlastingly they were a team and in each other they found soul mates.”

However, many people don’t know the whole story about Victoria and Albert. Jenna reveals that there’s a great deal to be uncovered in the new ITV drama:

“[Victoria] was very stubborn and never liked to do what was expected of her. She resisted [Albert] and you see that in our story but it isn’t for a very long time as she takes one look at him and is head over heels.”Finally, Jenna talks about her favourite scenes from the 8-part series. One moment that gets her stamp of approval can be seen in Episode 4:

“There is a moment…with the Penny Black. …As we go through the years Daisy [Goodwin], our writer, has worked in all the new technologies that come in to place. One of these is the stamp. We see the invention of that and how you stick it to the page, of course you have to lick it but that meant you had to lick the Queen’s face to send mail and how ludicrous that would have been! It’s a very clever and charming scene.”

UK viewers can watch the first episode of Victoria tonight at 9pm on ITV.

The series will also air on Masterpiece on PBS in the US from 15th January 2017.

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