TV review: Victoria, ITV (3 stars)

TV review: Victoria, ITV

Jenna Coleman in Victoria

Jenna Coleman takes the title role in this retelling of the life of Queen Victoria

Why should the Beeb have all the fun when it comes to costume drama? After ratings monster Downton Abbey ended last year, ITV are back with a lavish eight part retelling of the life of Queen Victoria.

As the opening blurb informs us it's 1837 and the monarchy is in crisis. After the death of her uncle eighteen-year-old Alexandrina (Jenna Coleman) finds herself queen of England. Quickly rebranding herself as Victoria, rejecting her scheming uncle John's (Paul Rhys) advice she looks to Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), for counsel.

The opening episode sees Queen Vic move into Buckingham Palace, getting squiffy on champagne at her Coronation Ball and try to snog the Prime Minister (sort of). Mixing the power and politics behind the throne with a bit of downstairs action in the servants' quarters (including a dull subplot about candles). It's a world of strict rules and etiquette with our young queen butting heads with the conservative establishment.

This light and frothy drama is the first major writing project from producer Daisy Goodwin and looks like it's more interested in raunch and scandal rather than sticking religiously to hard facts. Is Coleman the image that immediately comes to mind when you think of the famously dour monarch? If you accept Victoria as a historical romp, more in line with The Tudors than the heavyweight drama of Wolf Hall, it's pretty enjoyable nonsense. Coleman is as charismatic as ever, the sets and costumes are gorgeous but unfortunately Victoria doesn't have the soapy appeal of Julian Fellowes Downton Abbey or the sumptuous elegance of Andrew Davis' best work (War & Peace, Pride & Prejudice, Vanity Fair, etc).

Victoria starts on ITV, Mon 29 Aug.


1. Louisa Moore30 Aug 2016, 5:15pm Report

I thought as a bit of light entertainment it did the job. The costumes, music and gently brooding charm of Rufus Sewell were highlights. The jarringly poor CGI scenery and pantomime villainy were not. Also, Jenna Coleman's lack of resemblance to the real Victoria is unfortunate, and whoever thought that this little detail could be fixed by giving her a pair of scary ice-blue contact lenses needs a talking to. It might be worth casually keeping up with, but only on catch-up. Sorry, from next Sunday it's Poldark for me.

2. Paulus23 Sep 2016, 8:54pm Report

After all the hype,it should be worth watching, i thought. I like the old period dramas,such as Downton Abbey , which was good. Have stuck with it,until now, but to be honest , it's a bit lame. Not a patch on Downton, and Victoria herself was actually on the ugly side , so why pick Jenna Coleman for the part. The story is well known, so no wondering what the outcome is.

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