Victoria star Jenna Coleman is attending her first Mipcom market in support of the hit Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece co-production for ITV and PBS. The period series debuted in the UK in late August, occupying the coveted 9PM Sunday slot which had been the home of Downton Abbey for six years. A second season was then ordered in late September, before the first full run ended. Coleman told me today that Victoria has the potential to go on “for a really long time. Discussions are being had. The problem is there’s almost too much story so it’s about working the pacing. It will be interesting to see how it goes on in the States and what the appetite is.”
Victoria, whose first season follows the titular royal from the time she is crowned queen in 1837 at age 18, through to her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert (Tom Hughes), heads to Masterpiece on January 15. That’s a similar UK-to-U.S. delay as Downton had — to the frustration of many viewers — over its full run. Of the Downton slot, Coleman said, “There is a lot of expectation but I think Downton was a phenomenon. It’s its own. The shows are both period dramas and that’s kind of where the similarities end. It’s a completely different period of time.”
The series has now sold to over 150 countries and Coleman is hopeful that U.S. audiences will embrace it. “What’s fantastic is that Downton has been so popular in the U.S. that it’s carved an audience that hopefully are hungry for investing in the next drama which takes you back to somewhere which isn’t now.”
Coleman rose to global fame among Doctor Who fans as companion Clara Oswald on the cult BBC series. She says the big difference in doing a serious drama is that “Doctor Who is all about throwing caution to the wind and being so spontaneous and living in the moment whereas with Victoria I really enjoyed exploring as much of her as I could. There’s endless research you can do.
“The more I uncover about her, the more I read, I have so much more admiration. I like that there are so many unlikable traits in her. She’s very, very flawed but I’ve become really fond of her inconsistencies. She wasn’t perfect at all and it makes me like her. She’s not the queen that you expect in the portraits.”
Ratings on Season 1 were strong, with an average 7.9M viewers tuning in to ITV. The series went head-to-head with Season 2 of Poldark, on BBC One, and consistently edged it out. In a twist, it too is made by Victoria producer Mammoth Screen. Coleman says there’s no behind-the-scenes rivalry with the Poldark folks. “I’m a big fan. There was a point where none of us were saying we want them to go against each other.”