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Jenna Coleman on the new series of Victoria: The adrenaline runs high
Source: express.co.uk   |   August 29, 2017   |  91 Views

THE eagerly anticipated second series of Victoria starts tomorrow. We talk to its star, Jenna Coleman, about the monarch who ruled the British Empire with an iron will.

Few were surprised that glossy royal biopic Victoria was last year’s TV success story. The big-budget period drama had all the ingredients of great Sunday night telly: an all-star cast, sumptuous costumes and beautiful settings (including a complete recreation of Buckingham Palace), as well as a wonderful love story at its heart.

The gaping hole left by Downton Abbey had finally been filled, with an average of 7.7 million tuning in to the story of the young British queen.

But speaking to Saturday magazine ahead of the show’s return this week, its star, Jenna Coleman, admits that she was still taken aback by its reception. “When you are making it, you have no idea how people are going to react,” reflects the 31 year old, who was previously best known for playing Clara Oswald in Doctor Who from 2012-2015.

“You only get the sense that it’s successful when people come to talk to you about it. A lot of people came up to me – even when I was out shopping – when Victoria was on air, being really effusive.”

Series one explored the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, following her accession to the throne aged just 18, as well as her courtship and marriage to the handsome Prince Albert (played by Tom Hughes). The second series begins six weeks after the events of the first series and sees the royal couple adjusting to life after the birth of their first child. 

Victoria was the only Queen Regnant to marry and give birth while on the throne and we witness the challenges of being head of state as well as a wife and mother. Prince Albert, meanwhile, is still struggling to find a role for himself alongside his powerful wife.

Joining the established cast this series is former Avengers and Game Of Thrones star Dame Diana Rigg, playing the Duchess of Buccleuch, the young queen’s new Mistress of the Robes. There will also be a number of guest appearances from actors such as Line Of Duty’s Martin Compston, popping up as Dr Robert Traill, and New Tricks’ Denis Lawson playing the Duke of Atholl. 

Ahead of the new eight-part series – which will also return later this year for a two-hour Christmas special – we caught up with Jenna Coleman on set. She gave us the low-down on her high-profile new co-stars, as well as what’s in store for TV’s favourite royal couple…

Victoria

What can we expect from the new series? 

We cover nearly six years, which is bananas. Last series we didn’t delve properly into Victoria and Albert’s relationship, so series two gives us the opportunity to get into the power shift and the clash of wills and their love. We also explore the way that Victoria keeps a firm hand on the crown and being a mother.

It sounds like her dual role as Queen and mother is a big theme…

That’s where we start the series. Victoria has been in confinement – back then they believed that after giving birth women should remain horizontal for a month and not move. It’s a month since she’s had the baby and she’s not in the best of tempers. Then she sees that Albert has effectively taken over and there’s a real thunderous clash of wills. 

Was it fun to play these explosive arguments?

That’s what I’ve been really looking forward to exploring – that passionate love that they have, like Antony and Cleopatra. We filmed an argument where I had to throw a hairbrush at him. The adrenaline runs high. I’m not a hugely argumentative person, so it’s quite interesting to play Victoria. 

Has it got easier playing these scenes, as you and Tom Hughes now know each other well?

Absolutely. When you work with someone over a long period you develop a shorthand – there’s an experience there, a history. We’re trying to recreate one of the greatest love stories there has ever been, and you never want to lose their passion and also their annoyance with each other. There is a lot to keep pushing through. 

There are further challenges when she falls pregnant again, we hear…

Victoria and Albert had nine children and she was pregnant within three months of having her first child. She was devastated by this. She wrote in her diary, in capital letters, “It’s the only thing I dread, being pregnant.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen that on screen. Here you have a woman who loves her husband and is distraught by a pregnancy. 

How about you – did you feel uncomfortable in the latex bump?

We have numerous bumps and suits, and some of the dresses at the back are laced so they can be let out or let in through the different pregnancies. But we don’t really see her hugely pregnant on screen because there are big time jumps. 

What was it like working with Dame Diana Rigg?

Fabulous. I worked with Diana before, in Doctor Who, when we were also in Victorian garb – except that she had a creature attached to her chest and was trying to take over the world! But she is amazing. The relationship between Victoria and her character, the Duchess of Buccleuch, doesn’t get off to the best start but it becomes surprisingly tender. 

In the first series, some people said you were too pretty to play Victoria. How did that make you feel?

I think people just look at the later photographs, when she was much older. If you look at the younger portraits, the costume and make-up departments have done an incredible job – it’s very close. Also, my job as an actress is to try and capture the essence and energy of somebody. 

Is Victoria a role model? 

We are not projecting that heroine image. She is flawed and candid and frank. She’s obstinate and she’s stubborn and can be selfish and reactive and says the wrong thing. That’s what makes me love her all the more. Given her position and the way that she’s been brought up, 

I think that a lot of people would have lost their spirit. The fact she never lost those veins of iron within her is wonderful.

 

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