Victoria (2019)

Victoria (ITV)

‘Crowns are for girls,’ said little Bertie Saxe-Coburg, as Victoria returned to reign over Sunday nights (or until Line of Duty starts this weekend, anyway).

You can’t blame the wee lad for being confused: what with this, The Crown, The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots, the throne is clearly no place for a man right now.

Actually, the episode did open with a king, Louis Philippe of France (Vincent Regan), but he was quickly deposed by a revolutionary mob and fled across the Channel, where he holed up in Buckingham Palace eating English rosbif and recalling how ‘My father lost eez ‘ead to Madame Guillotine’. Mon Dieu!

The natives were revolting here, too. Or at least, the Chartists were gathering at the Palace gates – and finding a surprisingly sympathetic ear in Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). Victoria had her mind on more weighty matters, though, like her new Mistress of the Robes. To be fair, she was also heavily pregnant with her umpteenth child – Jenna Coleman strapped into a combination of crinolines and fake baby bulge that gave her the unfortunate appearance of a decorative toilet roll cover.

Plus she had the shock of her half-sister Feodora (Kate Fleetwood) rocking up out of the blue, and she’s trouble if ever I saw it. Though not as much trouble as Lord Palmerston (Laurence Fox), the strutting blonde peacock of a foreign secretary with a wandering eye and a passion for inflammatory populist rhetoric. Thank goodness they don’t make ‘em like that anymore, eh readers?

It’s to writer Daisy Goodwin’s credit that she’s managed to turn 19th century court and parliamentary politics into such a crowdpleasing global hit, with the fictional below-stairs shenanigans adding an extra dash of the Downton factor.

Coleman – so astonishingly good in last year’s The Cry – isn’t exactly stretched in the role, though she does give very good regal poise, and the Crown is presumably hers for as long as she wants it. After which they’ll no doubt offer it to the other Queen Colman.

TV extra:


Blockbusters (Comedy Central)

By my count, this is the fourth re-launch of Blockbusters since Bob Holness was last asked for a P in 1995, with Dara Ó Briain the new host challenging ‘the cream of Gen Y’ to make it across that famous honeycomb. The good news is it still has the same ridiculously catchy theme tune – and yes, it still pits two contestants against one. Why? ‘Because we live in a time of inequality,’ explained Ó Briain. One of TV’s greatest mysteries, solved at last!


Road to Brexit (BBC2)

No, wait, come back! It’s not what you think. In this cheerfully irreverent #fakenews package, fruity academic Michael Squeamish – looking suspiciously like Matt Berry – offered an alternative history of B****t, from Cliff Richard and Cilla Black’s decisive role in Britain’s entry into the Common Market to The Brotherhood of Man’s recent defection to Chuka Umunna’s Independent Group. Sadly, nothing could ever be quite as farcical as the real thing.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, 28 March, 2019

(c) Waitrose Weekend