The 2017 MASTERPIECE PBS season starts out tapping into the insatiable public appetite for young Royals, specifically, British. Their new series about Queen Victoria, titled VICTORIA airs January 15th and is based on the screenplay written by Daisy Goodwin. Buy the hardcover book, Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen which is the official companion to the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS, and the DVD box set "Masterpiece: Victoria" .
It stars Jenna Coleman as the young queen portrayed from her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18 through her courtship and marriage to her cousin Prince Albert played by Tom Hughes. Goodwin says her inspiration for Victoria derived from watching her own teenage daughter's vigorous and tempestuous nature and imagining how a monarch at the same age might compare. In this sense, the character takes on a personalized flare.
While the series has been criticized for taking liberties with some specific historical facts in order to make her character more congruent with modern sensibilities and perspectives, it has all the hallmarks of beloved PBS productions that includes an exquisite cast, costumes, sets and settings. As a result, it has usurped viewer turnout for previous period costume dramas, reaching 5.3 million viewers with a production budget of £10m.
So who was Queen Victoria and what were her hallmark contributions to British history?
January 03, 2017 —
Queen Victoria's Reign
Her reign spanned 64 years making her one of Britain's longest living monarchs 1837-1901. Her father, Prince Edward was the 4th son of King George III (the mad king). She was born in Buckingham Palace and was the first monarch to make it her lifelong home.
At the age of 21 she married her German cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, an alliance designed to keep European peace. She bore him 9 children who produced 40 grandchildren. It was said that they enjoyed a happy domestic life. That was also due to Britain's vast empire through colonial expansion in Africa and India and China and the establishment of the Commonwealth around the world.
Advances brought on by the Industrial Revolution and the invention of steel, saw new infrastructure and mechanization, such as the steam engine, the cotton ginny, and factories. This heralded an influx of workers from the agrarian villages and counties into denser urban centres. Along with this influx came new urban problems: overcrowding, poor sanitation and outbreaks of cholera and diseases. Britain's population doubled at home with 2 million people taking on as a servant class to a large demographic of middle and upper classes. A new merchant class contrasted widely between its lower working class who lived in relative poverty. This brought about social policies such as the Factory Act and the Public Health Act to address child labour, hours of work, implementation of sewage systems of disposal. Arts and science also flourished. Dickens serialized fiction appeared in the newspapers enlightening his fellowman of the plight of the poor, Darwin's theory of evolution and Arthur LIster's theory of germs advanced science and medicine.
Upon her death, Victoria's son Alber Edward became King Edward VII and the world quickly slipped into the First World War, which would have devastating consequences for the brightest and most capable of that generation.
Queen Victoria's reign was not conflict-free. It included the first and second Boer War, the Crimean War, and the Boxer Rebellion which stemmed from the Opium Wars before that. These were the result of Britain's colonialist expansion in a time when the other major powers of the century were competing for control and exploitation of the New World.