PBS’ Victoria, about the 18-year-old British queen’s ascension to the throne, was created by Daisy Goodwin after getting into a tiff with her own teenaged daughter and thinking, “What if my daughter was now the queen of England?” Masterpiece senior series producer Susanne Simpson explained at The Contenders Emmys confab today.
Victoria is the quintessential Masterpiece program, Simpson insisted.
“Most of you here probably know about Downton Abbey,” she joked. “Those were pretty big shoes to fill for us. When we started reading scripts for Victoria we were so excited, because we thought, ‘Here’s the kind of show the Masterpiece audience is going to love.’ It’s got romance, and costumes, and it’s royalty – and it’s royalty,” Simpson repeated. So, Masterpiece viewers love British royalty; Simpson also mentioned the “lush sets” that we learned are Masterpiece crack.
Actress Jenna Coleman, at 5-foot-1, is the same diminutive height as was Victoria, and conveys the queen’s fire and the feistiness. “She really stands up for herself and fights back” Simpson said, which PBS has found are “important elements” in shows that succeed for the Masterpiece brand on the programming service.
The first season, director Tom Vaughan noted, focused on the close relationship between the young, inexperienced queen, and Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell, who saw something more in the teenager than did the other “old men plotting and trying to control her and thinking she is going to be this puppet.”
Victoria burned his letters upon his death, Vaughan said. Victoria herself kept a diary from the age of 12 and reportedly wrote more than 62 million words.