Victoria delivers her catchphrase — and we are all VERY amused: Christopher Stevens reviews last weekend's TV
She had to say it. Queen Victoria may have ruled for more than 60 years, over an empire that girdled the world, but she’s remembered above all for her catchphrase.
To base a TV spectacular upon her life yet omit that immortal line would be like doing a biopic of Churchill without, ‘We shall never surrender!’ or Mrs Thatcher without, ‘The lady’s not for turning!’
ITV's Victoria has been given a five star rating by Christopher Steven's
Sunday's episode was full of drama and Victoria actress Jenna Coleman has been praised for her emotional performance
Come to that, if the forthcoming Netflix blockbuster based on Queen Elizabeth II’s reign fails to have her proclaim, ‘My husband and I . . .’ then the whole production won’t ring true.
That’s why Jenna Coleman, in the final part of Victoria (ITV), simply had to announce: ‘We are not amused.’ She was sitting up in bed with her stiff-necked husband, Albert, who was studying the gentleman’s periodical Punch and reading the jokes aloud.
‘Which Shakespearean character killed more chickens than any other?’ he asked stiffly. ‘Macbeth — because he did murder most fowl.’ You couldn’t blame the poor girl for being unamused.
Jenna Coleman, in the final part of Victoria (ITV), simply had to announce: ‘We are not amused.’ She was sitting up in bed with her stiff-necked husband, Albert, who was studying the gentleman’s periodical Punch and reading the jokes aloud
In fact, the real monarch denied ever uttering her catchphrase. Her granddaughter Princess Alice, a cheeky little girl when Victoria was in her 60s, once had the nerve to find out: ‘I asked her,’ she told a TV interviewer in 1976, ‘and she never said it!’
Historical accuracy has never been this show’s strongest suit. It prefers the sensational rumour to the proven fact — hinting heavily that Victoria’s predecessor as female heir to the throne was murdered, and that wicked Uncle Cumberland (Peter Firth) got his facial scar while slaughtering his valet.
At the outset, that was off-putting, but as this lavish romantic drama heated up, accuracy ceased to matter. So what if the real Lord M was a crusty old misery with gout, instead of the passionate martyr portrayed by Rufus Sewell? And what did we care if Victoria and Albert’s sweet nothings were actually whispered in German?
Victoria who loved Albert too much she began to resent her children
With its panting emotions and sumptuous costumes, this series has swept us away. ITV took a major risk by scheduling it as its early-autumn mainstay on Sunday nights, not only opposite Poldark on the other side, but inviting comparisons with its predecessor, Downton Abbey.
That’s a lot of expectations on a diminutive royal but, just like the Queen, the show has borne the pressure. Coleman judged her performance perfectly, growing from the petulant girl with an armful of dolls into the woman who wields a quill-pen like a weapon, but who always needs a man’s strong arm to give her confidence.
In the servant’s pantry, the love affair between the low-born lady’s maid (Nell Hudson) and her stalker, the creepy chef (Ferdinand Kingsley) was never convincing — but the sparring between Adrian Schiller and Eve Myles, as the corrupt footman Penge and the dresser Mrs Jenkins, more than made up for that.
A second series of Victoria was commissioned last month
A second series was commissioned last month. Hardly surprising — ITV bosses won’t just be amused by the way Victoria got better by the week, they’ll be tickled pink.
But past success, as they say in the investment ads, is no guarantee of future performance, and the second series of Poldark (BBC1) has been flagging.
Partly, it’s the way Cornish time hurtles by in disjointed bounds. Last week, we were burying poor old Francis, and now it’s half a year later, which obliged haughty Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) to add some awkward dialogue. ‘Seven months away has given me an appetite,’ she declared. The script is a muddle of archaic thees and thous, Demelza’s yargle-gargle dialect and some incongruous modern slang.
Fans loved this scene in the latest Poldark series
‘Good luck with that,’ said nasty George (Jack Farthing), lapsing into 21st-century idiom — before remembering he was in Olde Englande and adding: ‘Old hag!’
The crone in question was Aunt Agatha, who had an unexplained coughing fit over breakfast. Actress Caroline Blakiston had better brace herself: coughs are invariably fatal in period dramas.
The episode was saved by a red-hot love scene between Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Ross (Aidan Turner), which must have sent several million viewers into a tizz. They’d done nothing but bicker, until steam started pouring from the screen. And the Cap’n kept his shirt on — there’s a first.
INSTANT CELEB OF THE WEEK: Seven days ago I’d barely heard of comedian Dave Gorman. Suddenly, he’s a TV fixture, on the new series of Taskmaster and Go 8 Bit on the Dave channel, and now The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV). A panel game regular is born.
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