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Victoria - Doll no.123 - Advance Preview + Teasers

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This Sunday sees the return of Jenna Coleman to our screens in her new series, which sees her take on the role of young Victoria from the moment she became queen in June 1837. This earlier life of “The Grandmother of Europe” is one that is generally less documented, with her later great deeds and family ties generally being of more interest than the hurdles she faced during her youth.

As the show starts with her learning of William IV’s death and her own ascension to the throne, there are some important details about her earlier life which will only become apparent as the story progresses, unless of course, you are already familiar with Victoria’s childhood and the Kensington System that was imposed on her by her mother and her guardian, Sir Conroy. This was an extremely harsh set of rules and discipline designed to isolate the young heir from court and was supposed to render her entirely dependent on them once she became queen, meaning that they would rule instead as her regents. She was made to sleep in the same room as her mother, had to hold someone’s hand as she used the stairs, was never allowed to be alone at any time, and followed a strict education policy on a daily basis.

Fortunately, Victoria was a headstrong and intelligent young lady who became fully aware of what her mother and Conroy's plans were early on, meaning that the whole thing backfired on them rather spectacularly, as we see in this first episode. Their removal from her life meant that she learnt not to trust people too easily, but as an eighteen-year-old queen thrust into the limelight with very little knowledge of how to deal with the necessities the job required, she would need someone to guide her.

In steps Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, who is the Whig Prime Minister and quite possibly the first man in Victoria’s life who spoke to her, and treated her as, an adult. The queen was an intrinsic liberal in her ways, which no doubt helped their friendship from the off, but the fact that he listened to her and respected her opinions cemented their professional relationship. As for their private relationship, there is no doubt that they were very close. He had lost a daughter a few decades before – although the show keeps to the story of him having just lost his son rather than mentioning her at all – and Victoria’s own father past when she was very young too, which is why many historians see their bond as a paternal one. Though it isn’t too difficult to see a deeper connection between the two.

If you read Victoria’s diaries or see her sketchbook from this period of time, there’s no denying that she is an extremely smitten teenager. She is very conscious of what Lord M – her pet name for him – thinks of her ideas, or her new dress, there are reams of details from their conversations, both private and political, and alongside her pet dog, Dash, he is one of her most popular subjects when it comes to her artwork. And, as for him, having been involved in two high-profile sex scandals before meeting the queen it’s safe to say that his reputation as a ladies man wasn’t exactly a secret. Therefore, the rumours that spread about the couple at the time, leading some of the queen’s less ardent supporters calling her Mrs Melbourne, are explored in this production.

Although the timeline throughout the episodes I have seen so far doesn’t strictly adhere to historical accounts – Albert doesn’t meet his future wife for the first time until episode 1.03, which appears to be a few years into her reign, for example – much of the material for “Upstairs” is very much on point. The vast amount of literature written at this time makes research of the upper and newly emerging middle classes, and particular members of them, a relatively simple task. Daisy Goodwin has poured over Victoria’s diaries to ensure that she has as much detail as possible correct, even using direct quotes which help define a role’s personality and behaviour in the most natural way.

However, when it comes to the “Downstairs” characters, there is far less information out there to draw on, especially when it comes to identifying individuals. One of the servants is, however, based on a real-life member of Buckingham Palace’s serving staff. Assistant to the Queen’s Personal Dresser, Skerrett, played by Nell Hudson (Outlander, Call the Midwife), is a confident and pretty lass, which makes her both a friend and someone to mistrust amongst her peers. Victoria is quick to notice her quick wit and soon counts on her above some of the older and longer serving staff. Yet, is she right to do so? There is a dark past that Skerrett is keen to keep hidden, which may have something to do with her late night visits to London’s dangerous backstreets.

The rest of the staff are equally fleshed out, with Penge (Adrian Schiller, The Musketeers, Being Human) being the one to definitely keep an eye on. Under Conroy’s rule at Kensington Palace, he was the head steward, an extremely cushy job for a man on the make when there is a quick buck to be made on the quiet and other servants under your control. But when Victoria promotes her governess, the blunt and no-nonsense Baroness Lehzen, to the head of the household, he finds himself in a hostile battle with her as he attempts to undermine her economy drives at the new Buckingham Palace.

Doll no.123, the feature long first episode, airs on 28th August from 9pm – 10.35pm on ITV1, below are some teasers to see you through until then. Don't forget to come back to vote in our poll after you have seen the episode and let us know what you thought.

The opening credits show Victoria’s transition from teenage girl to the monarch with three very simple, yet highly effective, shots of Jenna portraying the natural grace and dignity the queen was renowned for possessing.

“Lady Flora has powerful friends. Tory friends. It would be unfortunate to have a scandal so close to the coronation”

“Do you really imagine that you can step from the school room straight to the throne without guidance?”

“There’s over a thousand candles a week in this corridor alone. Don’t suppose there’s an extra shilling in it for me? You know, for running them down to the pickers”

“To be queen you must be more than a little girl with a crown. You have a duty to your subjects”

The queen ends up committing a rather embarrassing faux par after downing one too many glasses of champagne at her coronation ball

“I think you forget, although I am young, and perhaps ignorant, I am my father’s daughter. The granddaughter of a king. And I believe I shall find my own way. And if I require advice, I will ask for it”

“I’ve only known you a short while ma’am, but, I’m confident that you will bring great credit to the monarchy”

“No more German, mama. You must remember you are the mother of the Queen of England now”

As Jenna Coleman was looking to avoid attaching herself to another series for a while after she left Doctor Who last year, we are fortunate that writer Daisy Goodwin and Executive Producer Damien Timmer were able to attract her to the project as she is perfectly cast in the role.

“Do as you would be done by, Mr Brodie”

“She doesn’t have a name. She’s a hundred and twenty-three, my mother gave her to me on my eleventh birthday”

Trailer Teaser

“Are you suggesting that the queen is not of sound mind, sir?”

About the Author - Sandi
Sandi is part of the Senior Staff at SpoilerTV having been a contributor from back in the Lost days of DarkUFO, and who now writes previews for Vikings, Knightfall, Poldark, Doctor Who and other UK shows. She also enjoys watching and commenting on other shows such as Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and The Flash.
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