No, we’re not talking about the royals of afternoon TV, but of a real queen and her consort: Queen Victoria and her lifetime love, Albert. The pair of storybook lovers returns for Season 3 of “Victoria” on PBS Sunday.
The show’s author admits Queen Victoria’s life could easily compete with those of today’s daytime dramas.
“The idea of the royal family as a sort of a fabulous royal soap opera to entertain the nation is something that Victoria wittingly or unwittingly created,” says Daisy Goodwin, author of both the book and the TV series about England’s monarch.
“Because she had all these children, the nine children. She had this famously happy marriage. She was the first monarch to really become a media monarch,” she says.
Victoria was the first queen to be photographed, says Goodwin. And she took advantage of the publicity it afforded. “She wasn’t photographed in her crown. She was photographed in a bonnet. And she very carefully crafted her image,” Goodwin says.
“She realized that the way to bed in the monarchy in Britain — and you’ve got to remember that this is a time of revolution where kings are being thrown off their thrones all over Europe — was to make an identification with the public, that they can see her children, her dogs, her clothes, that they can see that she is a woman like them. She’s not a godlike figure. And that, I think, was a really clever thing to do,” she says.
“I think the reason we still have a monarchy in Britain is because of Victoria and Albert. And I’m sure that’s what the royal family thinks too. I think Albert in particular is revered in the royal family now because he was so perceptive about what the royal family needed to do.”
While Victoria longed to be beloved by her people, Albert harbored a different cause, Goodwin says. “I feel she’s almost like a child star who has grown up with this kind of affirmation and love and all of this. And then, when it’s withdrawn, she feels empty and she doesn’t know what she’s for. But Albert thinks … the point of the monarchy is not to just be popular. It’s to give people not what they want, but what they actually might need.”
While arranged marriages between royals in Europe rarely worked, the union between Victoria and Albert proved unassailable.
“The reason I think they got along so well is they both had a missing parent,” Goodwin says.
“He didn’t have a mother because his mother had run away. And she didn’t have a father. And so I think they found that in each other. They found a parent in each other as well as a lover and a spouse. I think, also, Victoria just fancied the pants off him, as we say in England. She was in lust with him as well as in love with him.”
Goodwin, who’s written two novels that made the best-seller list, “The American Heiress” and “The Fortune Hunter,” says she was writing the book about Victoria when she realized that it would make a corking good TV series.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to write a drama.’ I did that with the confidence of somebody who has never written a drama before,” she smiles, “and then I finished it and finished the novel afterwards.”
Because she is a novelist, Goodwin thinks she brings a certain unique sensibility to the script. “That means that I really enjoyed the process, sort of fleshing it out. When I’m writing a novel, I love the fact that I’m sitting alone in a room and I can have as many people as I want on the page. I can have the whole of the British army kind of massing in Trafalgar Square.
“Whereas when you write that in a script, people read it, and they’ll go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ And then they’ll suddenly go, ‘You know when you said you wanted three regiments? What about three people? What about three soldiers? Will that work for you?’
“So that’s the problem … with writing scripts. But on the other hand, if you’re a novelist, you’re sitting alone in a room, and you get sort of bored, miserable. When you’re a script writer, you’re never alone. There are always people asking you questions and saying, ‘Could this be red instead of blue?’ and, ‘Could the actor say this?’ And they drive you mad. But the grass is always greener as far as I can see. I’m dying to write another novel.”
‘HUNTER’ EXPLORES LIZZIE BORDEN COLD CASE
Some people are still wondering if Lizzie Borden really did whack her parents with that ax back in 1892. One of those is Pat Spain, whose new series, “Legend Hunter,” begins Tuesday with a re-examination of the gruesome murders of Borden’s parents in Fall River, Mass. Starting from scratch, Spain uses psychographic profiling and statistical diagnostics to study the original suspects and comes up with a new possible killer never before considered. This is the first in a series of explorations that the “Legend Hunter” will do probing unsolved riddles, historic curiosities and mythic occurrences on the Travel Channel.
‘DEADLY CLASS’ ARRIVES ON SYFY
A troubled teen living on the mean streets is recruited to a special academy where the kids of top villains are schooled in their wicked ways. How he manages to maintain his equilibrium through all the evil around him is the subject of “Deadly Class,” premiering Wednesday on the Syfy Channel. Based on the popular graphic novel by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, the series stars Benjamin Wadsworth, Benedict Wong, and Lana Condor.
ATTENBOROUGH ENCOUNTERS A SEA DRAGON
Sir David Attenborough is sticking his nose into the past again as he prowls the site of the new discovery of a fish-lizard — an ichthyosaur — that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. “Nature: Attenborough and the Sea Dragon” premieres Wednesday on PBS (check local listings). “I was educated as a paleontologist to some degree,” says Attenborough, who has led audiences through nature’s many miracles. “So I am aware of what the excitement is when you certainly hit a boulder, and it falls apart, and there is a marvelous skeleton or a marvelous shell or a bone that nobody has ever seen before you did, and probably had not seen daylight for 100 million years. If that’s not a thrill, I don’t know what thrills are. And if you fail to feel it, well, I can’t imagine what you are.”
(Luaine Lee is a California-based correspondent who covers entertainment for Tribune News Service.)
©2019 Luaine Lee
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