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Season 2 of 'Victoria' Finds the Queen Coming Into her Own
January 14, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

Good news, royal family fans: Jenna Coleman (top) isn’t planning on hanging up Queen Victoria’s tiara anytime soon.

Coleman’s portrayal of the long-serving 19th-centurymonarch in the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria, which launches its second season Sunday at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings), has stood the traditional image of Victoria on its royal head.

“This year I think we will see more of her impulsive nature and her lack of pretense,” says Coleman, adding to the iconoclasm of a first season in which her Victoria was anything but stodgy and prudish.

Victoria will also insist on being involved in all royal business and quickly forming opinions about everything from court costumes to military policies in Afghanistan. This startles the men around her, including her beloved husband Albert (Tom Hughes, top).

“They were passionately in love,” says Coleman. “But they didn’t always see things the same way.

“In the early years of their marriage, when they had so many children, Albert thought he should take over some of her responsibilities. But she wasn’t going to be forced back into the nursery. So they’d argue.

“In fact, they would fight horribly. They would follow each other through the palace, yelling.”

That gave the servants something to talk about, one imagines. It also underscored, Coleman muses, “how young and energetic Victoria was at the time.”

Victoria would eventually rule for more than 63 years, a record broken only recently by the current Queen, Elizabeth II. In an interesting television parallel, Netflix is now into season two of its Queen Elizabeth biography, The Crown, after which Claire Foy is stepping down as Elizabeth so the role can pass to an older actress.

Coleman says Victoria has no similar plan at the moment, though writer Daisy Goodwin says there is ample drama to continue Victoria’s story through her entire rein.

“I don’t know how long I could play her,” says Coleman, who at 31 is several years older than the Season 2 Victoria. “It’s an unusual show, and I think we may be feeling it out as we go along.

“There are other things I’d love to explore at some point. But this show just keeps getting better and better and right now I feel there’s so much more here.

“I’d be very up for getting pickled to keep playing her as she gets older.”

She jokingly concedes she might think about retiring when she had to report for makeup at 3 a.m. She does, however, have a first-class model for how Victoria might look much later in life: Dame Judi Dench, who plays the older queen in the recent movie Victoria and Abdul.

“I went to see that,” says Coleman. “Of course, I’ll take any excuse to see Judi Dench. But it was fascinating to see this woman that I play in her earlier years as she would be much later. I see so many of the same qualities.”

She also sees some qualities intensified. “Victoria never had much patience,” Coleman notes. “Where Albert was a thinker, she was impulsive. But the older she gets, the less she cares about anyone else’s opinion.

“She would eat with her mouth open. She would drink a bottle of wine with dinner. She had a real lack of vanity.

“She was so controlled by her mother when she was a child that she loved the freedom when she finally became queen.”

Similarly, even though Victoria deeply respected and abided by the customs of the royal court, she quickly got tired of people who nodded and agreed with anything she said because they feared offending the queen.

“She found that boring,” says Coleman, recalling that one of the strangest and most fascinating moments for the real-life Victoria and Albert was a rare non-royal encounter.

“They were in Scotland,” she says, “and somehow they ended up at the home of a local couple who had no idea who they were. They spent the night there, and for the first time in their lives they knew how it felt to be anonymous.”

Not that anonymity had long-term appeal. “Victoria really enjoyed being queen,” says Coleman. “She felt it was an important job. And she liked the perks.”

One of the perks for Coleman is that she increasingly gets recognized on the streets these days as Victoria, after years when she was better known from the soap Emmerdale and two seasons as the companion on Doctor Who.

“But I don’t still get recognized all that much,” she says. “Perhaps because I’m short, I can be a bit of a ninja on the train.”

She adds that despite the success of Victoria, she isn’t sure she has fully made the challenging transition from youth to adult roles.

“I’m not sure I’m there yet,” she says. “At this point in the series, Victoria is still young.”

In any event, she has quite fallen for her character.

“I have huge admiration and respect for Victoria,” she says, though she adds with a laugh that she doesn’t carry the queen with her into the off-season. “I hope she doesn’t stay with me. She can be very commanding, and God help me if that starts filtering through.”

She’s similarly bemused about what would happen if she ever met Victoria.

“I’m quite sure,” Coleman says, “she’d tell me everything I’m doing wrong.”

 
 
 
 
 
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