Victoria – ITV

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Word PressThis wasn’t bad, but it had been very Sunday-night-costume-drama-fied, and it’s always quite frustrating when that happens to real historical events!   On the plus side, it was well acted and well choreographed. And all the main characters and main events were there – the sinister Lord Conroy, the difficult relationship between Victoria and her mother, the young Victoria’s reliance on Lord Melbourne, and the sad tale of Lady Flora Hastings. They’d even included Dash the dog.

On the down side … well, it was annoying to hear people address 18-year-old Victoria as “Drina”, the name used only when she was a baby, and the Tsarevich introduced without his patronymic, but those were only minor irritations. More annoying was Victoria reeling around drunk at the Coronation Ball, telling Lord Melbourne that she wanted to dance with him – she certainly developed an emotional dependence on him, but ITV over-romanticised it – and the Duke of Cumberland bizarrely insisting that Victoria was mentally unstable and he should be made regent. There were rumours at various times about Victoria’s mental health, but they were generally later on; and Cumberland – who became King of Hanover, as they had the Salic Law there – certainly never tried to get himself made regent for his niece. I really could have done without those scenes!

I wasn’t convinced about the “downstairs” scenes either. I accept that there’d have been criticism about elitism if the scenes had all focused on the royal family and senior courtiers and politicians, and I suppose the inclusion of scenes involving servants was a nod to the Downton Abbey audience, but did we really need a sub-plot about flogging second-hand gloves?   And Baroness Lehzen was so busy worrying about the gloves that Victoria’s over-reliance on her didn’t really come across at all.

However, it was good Sunday night entertainment, and that’s probably what ITV were aiming for. And it didn’t score too badly on historical accuracy, unlike such utter twaddle as The Tudors and Versailles. And, hey, anything that gets people talking about history has got to be a good thing, and hopefully this will do exactly that!

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