Jenna Coleman’s transition from being the Doctor’s apprentice to Queen Victoria is superb as we get to see her acting chops from such a different role. We begin the first episode with the young Princess receiving the news that she has now become the Queen of England following the death of her uncle King William IV.

Arriving in London she meets her tall and brooding PM Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell) who looks rather good for his age, considering that Sewell is ten years’ junior of Melbourne’s actual age in 1837. The first three episodes lead the viewer on to believe that there may be some kind growing romance between the eighteen-year-old Queen and the fifty-eight-year-old PM, but those hopes are dashed following the entrance of Albert (Tom Hughes).

At first Victoria is opposed to the idea of marriage, styling herself after her new found idol Queen Elizabeth I, and refusing to allow her cousins Albert and Ernest to come to court. Despite this, Victoria’s uncle King Leopold of Belgium (Alex Jennings) invites them anyway and the pair meet. There is some turbulence at the start of their courtship, somewhat contradicting the fact that the real Victoria and Albert were smitten with other on sight, but it takes only takes until the end of the episode for Victoria to propose to Albert.

Following the marriage Albert gets uppity over the rather important fact that he has no official title as King and only gets a measly allowance of £30,000 a year (around £2.5 million in today’s money), but eventually quietens down and focuses on less important issues such as the abolition of slavery. In the final episode we witness an attempt on the Queen’s life, with the would be assassin consigned to Bedlam, and the birth of her first child as the closing scene.

Although ITV has been late to the historical bandwagon with Victoria, with the plethora of programmes that have been coming out recently such as Versailles, Poldark, Wolf Hall, and The Last Kingdom (all BBC), it has struck a unique tone with its most recent historical venture. Most historical dramas of late have upped the sex, blood and gore since the emergence of Game of Thrones (HBO) but in Victoria you will find a more dignified and restrained affair with sumptuous costumes, gorgeous settings and a beautifully lifting intro song that makes it, in comparison to its competition, fittingly Victorian.

James Pendlington

[4star]

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