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Victoria, Series 3, ITV review - can Her Maj cope with the Age of Revolution? | reviews, news & interviews

Victoria, Series 3, ITV review - can Her Maj cope with the Age of Revolution?

Victoria, Series 3, ITV review - can Her Maj cope with the Age of Revolution?

Jenna Coleman rises to the occasion as violent change rocks the monarchy

Have you come far? Jenna Coleman as Victoria, Tom Hughes as Prince Albert

 ITV has an enviable knack for creating populist historical costume dramas which never seem to wear out, despite a million rotations on ITV3. Once everybody had got over the shock of a young and glamorous Queen Victoria, who had previously existed in the popular imagination as a scowling dowager in a coal sack, Victoria proceeded to take its place in the ITV pantheon with an air of unswerving confidence.

The third series dawned with a whiff of gunpowder in the air. It’s 1848, and revolutionary zeal is sweeping across Europe. No royal family is safe, and France’s King Louis Philippe – Vincent Regan, speaking English in the style of Michel Barnier – has had to take hasty evasive action via the Parisian drainage network to get out with his head still attached to his shoulders. In Britain, the Chartists are getting rowdy with their demands for voting rights for working people and a more democratic Parliament, and they’re making the royal household a bit twitchy.

Laurence Fox as Palmerston in Victoria (ITV)Victoria’s mood has not been improved by the incendiary, grandstanding speeches of Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston (a strutting and supercilious Laurence Fox, pictured right), who has hailed the overthrow of the French “tyrant” and was swift to make friendly contact with France’s new Republican government. Mind you, in private the vain and arrogant Palmerston is more apt to say things like “I don’t know why we don’t lock them all up” or (to Prince Albert) “if we give the vote to an illiterate mob we’re signing our own death warrants.”

Anyway, tension mounted dramatically when Victoria controversially agreed to shelter Louis Philippe in London. As Chartists marched on the capital and started chucking rocks through the palace windows, only the sudden onset of childbirth prevented Victoria and Albert high-tailing it for the relative safety of the Isle of Wight.

Happily, writer Daisy Goodwin has been able to avoid the old trap of letting the tyranny of historical events overwhelm the internal coherence of her story, and there was much to savour in the interplay of characters. As Victoria, Jenna Coleman is now wielding her authority with an assured touch, despite the occasional vocal inflection amusingly reminiscent of Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary from Downton. Even so, her inner struggle over whether to shelter overthrown European royalty was causing her palpable anguish, not helped by the insolent interventions from Palmerston (“these days you can’t be too careful with the company you keep”). Eventually she found him so aggravating that she expelled him from her presence.

Lily Waters as Duchess Sophie in Victoria (ITV)As Albert, Tom Hughes brings both sympathy and practicality. Horrified by a tour of squalid working-class dwellings, Albert feels a change in the wind and has picked up the baton of social improvement – “this country needs more than bluster, it needs change,” he declared. The intrepid queen has gone so far as to cross the species barrier and meet a real Chartist, Abigail Turner, who was introduced to her by her seamstress Skerrett (Nell Hudson).

Meanwhile, it seems that Albert is being viewed with more than casual interest by Victoria’s half-sister Feodora of Leiningen (Kate Fleetwood), another royal refugee from Europe’s Republican spring and now playing the role of pitiful lost soul, drifting round the palace like a forlorn ghost in need of a wealthy benefactor. Perhaps she’ll catch Palmerston’s lascivious eye, though he may be more intrigued by Duchess Sophie (Lily Travers, pictured above), despite the fact that her father was a shopkeeper. It’s surprisingly addictive, though the CGI budget could do with an upgrade, because the wishy-washy artists’ impressions of the London skyline are mystifyingly inept.

 

Victoria’s mood has not been improved by the incendiary, grandstanding speeches of Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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