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Victoria, Series One (2016) – “Never Let Them Know How Hard It Is To Bear”

When the Sunday night time slot on Masterpiece PBS was sans Downton Abbey, a gem was lost. First promotions tried to push Mercy Street as a “replacement” (an unfair comparison if ever there was), and then 2017 arrived and with it, British TV’s latest crown jewel, Victoria.


At the tender age of eighteen, Victoria (Jenna Louise Coleman) finds herself not only responsible for an entire nation, but reigning as England’s queen. Her uncle has just died a childless ruler, which passes the crown to Victoria. Her German-born mother is under the thumb of her longtime adviser, Sir. John Conroy. A man who, is determined Victoria should be controlled with the use of a regent.


Unfortunately, Conroy underestimates Victoria and soon must face the reality that Victoria is no wilting violet. She refuses to let anyone dictate her rule, not even the whispers that soon she must marry sway her. The only man she trusts is her loyal adviser, Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell), a man she quickly loses her heart to. And then a man who doesn’t smile, but makes Victoria a better person walks into her life. His name is Albert (Tom Hughes)…

Each of the period drama productions I’ve seen from the likes of BBC or ITV are the kind of story telling one can only dream of writing. Added to their vault of brilliance is Victoria. It’s another captivating series that while special because of its relationship to actual history (fact over pure fiction) will touch many viewers. That said, as everything does, it does suffer some flaws.

Chiefly among them is the fact that, while many won’t notice or mind, for others this has formatted itself “too much” in the image of Downton Abbey. I fall into one of the former camps, but I can also fairly point out the stumbles. The fact that this script writes an “upstairs and downstairs” timeline is, perhaps, one of them. It helps that I adore all of the “downstairs” characters. The alternative stories are charming and altogether a new concept for this story. Despite the obvious throwback to the Fellowes saga (Downton Abbey), I respect, admire and appreciate the story, and furthermore “the how” of Daisy Goodwin’s scripts.   


What might most raise eyebrows is the alternative romance that captures the audience. Instead of the icon that is Victoria and Albert, before him, Goodwin offers Lord Melbourne as an option. While wildly contrary to history, I’ll confess this idea of Victoria falling for her trusted adviser a little swoony. Most especially with Rufus Sewell in the role. The “Rook Scene” is sure to shatter your heart in a million pieces, and whether you like the romance between Victoria and Melbourne or not, it’s remarkably well written and portrayed. (Plus this has the benefit of history urging you not to invest too emotionally.) The chemistry between Jenna and Rufus works really well and I adore what they have while it lasts. The genuine feelings they have for one another is what good character writing is all about.

From the top of the show pyramid to the tip of least importance, Victoria is gold. The acting (hello suave leading man Tom Hughes!), to the costumes and sets, Masterpiece again crowns itself, which is, a gem at the heart of its mantle. ♥

8 comments

  1. I've been watching Victoria on PBS, and my DVD copy just arrived today. I foresee some binge watching in my future :-) I am absolutely loving this series, and oh my goodness is Rufus Sewell swoony in this role! (After watching the first episode, I googled Lord Melbourne so I could separate fact from fiction ... and I'm quite happy with this fictionalized version, even if it's not historically accurate.)

    I just rewatched The Young Victoria (written by Julian Fellowes, interestingly enough) to compare the two, and, at least so far, I think I'm enjoying Victoria more. It really is a fitting replacement for Downton Abbey.

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    1. YES! Binge-watch all the way, Becky. SO good.

      Rufus is fabulous in this role. This is the first romantic role that I've seen him in (that I can remember) and he plays it SO well. I agree. I don't mind the departure from history. Especially since Victoria doesn't "waffle" in her affections once she's rejected.

      Good to know! I haven't watch The Young Victoria for a long time, and this is making me desperately want to experience it again. Perhaps in the coming weeks I will do just that. :)

      So glad you shared your impressions.

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  2. I'm enjoying the Victoria mini series a lot more than I expected. It's similar to Downton Abbey, but not so similar that it feels like the same show. True, I don't love nearly as I much as I love D/A, but I really like it nonetheless. It's very beautifully filmed, and complex in it's writing. Just a great mini series!

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    1. Downton Abbey will always be in a league of its own (in my rankings) because I think it really helped revive period dramas. Especially that first season which was beautiful.

      That said, I agree. This series is fabulous all on its own. Love the settings and of course, the cast is making it impossible for us NOT to like them. :)

      Glad you came by with your thoughts, Miranda!

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  3. I love this series. It's a sweet love story that makes me smile. The music is wonderful too. Victoria and Albert are lovely together. I wish we could have these beautiful love stories in our world today. I'm learning so much history. Thank you.

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    1. As do I. It's a beautiful story that I, like you, am left in a perpetual state of happiness! Me too! These kind of stories are what, I believe, the audience craves. Much as I love superhero movies (which usually do have moral underpinnings), sometimes, it's these quiet dramas that mean the most. :)

      Glad you stopped by! :)

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  4. I read the novelization of the show that was written by the creator and I was a little bit surprised at the major deviation from history. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I really like my historical fiction to be, you know, historical. Anyway, I haven't watched the show yet, but I'm definitely going to at some point because RUFUS SEWELL. *ahem*

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    1. I'd say the show deviates from history too. In some ways anyway. Particularly in the who Melbourne/Victoria "romance." Oh, and I also find it curious that Albert falls in love with Victoria from the start whereas other adaptations depict it happening over time.

      Either way, I do hope you enjoy this if you decide to give it a watch. It's lovely, deviations and all. Plus, yes, there's Rufus. And oh what a character he is in Victoria. ;)

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