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.

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