Gloriana! Hellelujah! Victoria returns to PBS and THIRTEEN on January 14 with a big juicy double episode, and we are quite amused!
I have already seen the first jumbo episode of Season 2 and I can report that Masterpiece is getting the band back together: Not only does Victoria return, but so do Bert and Ernie, AKA Princes Albert and Ernest; Harriet (and her husband), scheming schnorer King Leopold (AKA Uncle Leo); Miss Skerrett and Mr. Francatelli, and, of course the Brocket Hall Babe himself, Lord Melbourne. Hello! Writer Daisy Goodwin clearly knows what we, the audience, want and she gives it to us!
Again this season, I will be recapping each episode, so please check back here every week to read my cheeky commentary. This is always a spoiler-free zone, so this is not technically a spoiler alert: Just as we’re getting ready to dive into Season 2, it has been announced from Buckingham Palace (OK, maybe just from ITV), that Season 3 of Victoria has been commissioned – so you can rest easy knowing that another season will be on its way to us in 2019. Huzzah!
Big Screen Preview Event
British Invasion, Victoria-Style: On December 12, Masterpiece hosted a preview screening at Ye Olde Times Centre (The Times Center) here in Manhattan, where Her Majesty’s subjects were treated to the first half of the premiere episode and a Q&A with Victoria creator Daisy Goodwin, Jenna Coleman (Little Vicky), and Rufus Sewell (Lord M.), and one of the producers who wasn’t supposed to be there but had lost his passport and couldn’t leave town. And for we lucky few, this was followed by a meet and greet.
Much like Downton Abbey, Victoria looks gorgeous on the big screen. So gorgeous, in fact, that I wish everyone could watch it this way — plus, it’s always fun to watch in a theater full of enthusiastic fans; it truly heightens the enjoyment. The Q&A was enlightening, including this aside from Daisy Goodwin on one of the tough aspects of writing a drama when someone has got to go: “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.”
Who could she mean?
Meeting Daisy Goodwin
For me, the coolest thing about the event was getting to chat with Daisy Goodwin. I had wanted to thank her for retweeting links to my recaps last season and the nice things she said about them, so when I approached her I said, “Hi, my name is Debbie and I write Victoria recaps for THIRTEEN”, and she said, “Deborah Gilbert, right? @E20Launderette?” She went on to say what a fan she is of my recaps, saying they were “hilarious!”
My heart started thumping and I might have gone a bit blank that a real writer I admire had that to say about my work. (And Julian Fellowes never did that! Just sayin’.) I had her autograph my copy of her novel Victoria, which the show is based on, and will cherish the inscription.
After speaking to Daisy Goodwin, I also got Rupert Sewell to sign my book, then Jenna Coleman, who took the opportunity to tease Rupert (who was just feet away) for his bad penmanship. All in all, quite a fun evening!
From Diary to Screen
“My challenge in Victoria is always to keep the balance between drama and accuracy”: Those are the words of novelist and screenwriter Daisy Goodwin, who first read Queen Victoria’s diaries when studying for her history degree. In this Radio Times essay, she writes about that challenge, whom Victoria was writing for in her diary, her own challenges as the first monarch to be a working mum, and how it all affects what has been created in the series. It is a fun must-read companion to the series.
The Real Lord Melbourne
The M stands for Mmmmmmm…: Who was Lord M, and how did the real Melbourne compare to what is depicted in the Victoria we love on PBS? In this Radio Times article we get some of the essential backstory. In Season 1 we saw how the Duke of Wellington, a Tory, became an unlikely ally during the Bedchamber Crisis (when Victoria would not replace her ladies in waiting with Tory ladies), but it turns out Wellington had already been an ally, urging Melbourne not to resign during another, more personal scandal three years before Victoria came to the throne. Had it not been for Wellington, Lord M would not have been there for Queen Victoria and we would have been watching a very different (and probably much less fun) Victoria!
Compute this: Last season, we had trains, and another new technology will catch the eye of futurist Prince Albert this season — the work of mathematician Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, (most commonly known as Ada Lovelace) who was the first to recognize the potential of computing beyond just calculation; something she referred to as “poetical science.” Played by Emerald Fennell of Call the Midwife, Lovelace was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron who (as we know) had a too-close connection to Lord M. Her appearance in Victoria is not because of her Lords Byron or M connections, but because she was famous in her own right as a mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage. While Babbage is known as the father of computing, Ada is considered to be the first computer programmer. As a child, Ada’s mother had encouraged her interest in mathematics so she wouldn’t develop the “insanity” of her father. Because of her parents’ sticky relationship, Ada had no relationship with Lord Byron in the first place. Because of both her parents’ infamy, she had her own life-long infamy in society. Sadly, Ada died at the age of 36, the same age as Lord Byron, from uterine cancer, hastened by bloodletting by her doctors. Even though she never met her father, at her request she is buried next to him. Here’s more background on Ada Lovelace and how she fits into the Victoria story.
The Family Tree
Keeping it in the family: The holidays are a time for families, and family business, and Queen Victoria’s was a family business that merged with virtually every other royal family business in Europe. Not only were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert cousins, but through Queen Victoria, so are Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Cue the banjos! Victoria and Albert had nine children and 42 grandchildren who, between them, married into the royal families of Sweden Norway, Romania, Russia, Germany, Greece and Spain. Victoria was Elizabeth’s great great grandmother and Philip’s great grandmother – and in-between Vicky & Bert and Liz & Phil, there were other cousin matches — enough to give Henry Louis Gates a nervous breakdown!
Catch Up On Season 1
Don’t fall into “disrepute” by not knowing your Little Vicky from your Bert and Ernie: Yes, heed Uncle Cumberland’s warning or he’ll regency your tushie. If you didn’t watch the first season of Victoria (or even if you did and need a refresher), you can jump into the story quite easily. Get up to speed by watching it through the member benefit THIRTEEN Passport or the re-runs currently running on THIRTEEN (including December 24, see schedule) — and of course, to go along with your Season 1 binge watch, read my cheeky episode recaps as you go. Here’s the Season 1, Episode 1 recap and here is the page where all recaps are listed. (You’ll even find links there to the Facebook Live chats with Marti Gould Cummings and myself, where we break down each episode).
Come back here to the British Telly Dish blog every Sunday night after each Season 2 Victoria episode to read my recap. Join the conversation using the hashtag #VictoriaPBS, and let us know what you hope to see in Season 2.