Rufus Sewell set hearts a-beating as Prime Minister Lord Melbourne in ITV’s Victoria, with many fans hoping he would defy historical reality and act on his undeniable chemistry with the Queen.
The affectionately-nicknamed “Lord M” backed off from his role as political mentor to Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) once she started to fall for Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) and was conspicuously absent from later episodes.
But could he be set for a return in series two? After all, he was still Prime Minister until 1841.
Speaking at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, creator and writer Daisy Goodwin was coy – but she did drop one intriguing hint.
“Do you know, one of the great things about writing this series is that we seem to have transformed a hitherto fairly obscure Prime Minister into the subject of enormous interest and, dare I say, fan fiction,” she said.
“And all I can say to you is that if you really want to know the answer to that question, I suggest that you go and buy a very, very good book about Lord Melbourne by David Cecil, it's out of print but you can get it at your local library, and that may help you try to understand what's going to happen in series two.”
The book in question is a two-part biography of Melbourne by Lord David Cecil, first published in 1948. So far it has been hard to get hold of a copy, but readers are encouraged to track it down and see what this hint really means.
Goodwin, Coleman, Hughes and executive producer Damien Timmer also gave some clues about what is next for Victoria and Albert in series two.
An exclusive clip shown to the audience at the BFI in London revealed the couple’s first-born being christened, while another showed Victoria trying to explain to her husband why she’s not too thrilled to be pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth.
“Can you imagine what it's like to swell up like a pumpkin and have everyone treat you as an imbecile because you've given birth? It's the shadow side of our marriage,” she tells him. “I didn't spend all those years in Kensington shut up in a nursery only to be confined into another one.”
Is this the real Victoria, mother to nine children? Did she really resent pregnancy so much?
“She hates babies, she doesn't like the way their arms move around like frogs,” Goodwin explained.
“She absolutely refuses to breastfeed, she thinks it's disgusting, she says ‘That's what cows do and I'm not a cow.’ She likes the bit that gets her pregnant, but she doesn't like what she calls the shadow side of marriage, and that's what she means by childbirth and bringing up children.”
Coleman added: “I don't think I've ever seen it on screen before where pregnancy isn't a choice, and actually to see her resenting a pregnancy not because she doesn't love her children but because it's not a choice - she falls pregnant and that's the shadow side.”
So series two is in production. How about a series three? And – as with Netflix’s royal drama The Crown – are producers planning on taking the story all the way to the end of the reign?
“We could go on indefinitely. I think she will outlive us all, possibly,” said Goodwin, while Timmer added: “One would like to get to the end, that's the truthful answer.”
That is something one would very much like to see.