Actress Jenna Coleman ‘rewinds’ Dame’s version of queen

Jenna Coleman as the monarch
Jenna Coleman as the monarch

Actress Jenna Coleman may well be playing a queen on screen in Victoria, but she’s taken inspiration from a dame.

The Blackpool-born actress returns to screens on Sunday in the second series of the ITV drama.

Dame Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch and Bebe Cave as Wilhelmina Coke in Victoria

Dame Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch and Bebe Cave as Wilhelmina Coke in Victoria

Speaking on set, she’s told of playing opposite Dame Diana Rigg in the new series as well as studying Dame Judi Dench’s portrayal of Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown.

“You’ve got that, so rewind 40 years and then this is the Victoria we’re meeting. You’ve got similar traits,” she explains.

Dame Diana Rigg joins Jenna to play the Duchess of Buccleuch, Queen Victoria’s outspoken Mistress of Robes. And Jenna, 31, has spoken of the ‘fabulous’ experience of working alongside acting royalty – and not for the first time.

“I worked with Dame Diana on Doctor Who, similarly in Victorian garb except she had a creature attached to her chest and was trying to take over the world,” the former Arnold School head girl said, with a laugh.

“The relationship between Victoria and the Duchess of Buccleuch doesn’t get off on the best foot but becomes really surprisingly tender. I think Victoria really grows fond of her.”

But then it’s widely known that Victoria appreciated straight-talkers in her immediate circle.

“I suppose if you’re in a position of power, she likes someone who can make her laugh and just cut through that divide. She’s very human, actually,” she adds.

The petite actress, who quips she has a couple of inches on Queen Victoria’s 4ft 11in frame, is wearing an exquisite gown, with a delicate tiara on her head.

One of the challenges for the costume department has been the numerous bumps required for this series, which spans five years – Victoria was a mother of nine and it opens with the queen recovering from the birth of her first child.

“They believed once women had had babies, they should lie horizontal for a month and not move basically,” Jenna explains.

“So she’s not in the best of tempers, having been babied and fussed around and then she comes back to work and sees Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) has effectively taken over and she doesn’t like it.”

Three months later, she’s pregnant again, ‘which she was devastated by’, continues the actress: “She wrote in her diary, in capital letters ‘The only thing I dread is being pregnant’. It’s a really interesting story because you have a woman who loves her husband and is distraught by her pregnancy and feels imprisoned by it.”

One of the misconceptions that Jenna is keen to quash is that Victoria didn’t like her children.

She adds: “If you go through her diaries, she really is a doting mum so I was very keen to portray that, but the resentment is there absolutely for the pregnancies. She says, in an ideal world, ‘I wouldn’t have been caught so early. I would’ve been left free to enjoy the first couple of years of marriage’.”