As a nervous 18-year-old, Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837. She blossomed over the years and with determination and experience became a great monarch.
In the role of her life, it is easy to draw comparisons with Victoria and actress Jenna Coleman who is now playing the part of the Queen on screen.
When she first started in Doctor Who, there was potential, but Jenna Coleman was not a fully matured actress. She had just come from Emmerdale and starred on Waterloo Road but had limited experience in terms of dominating scenes as a leading lady.
I remember fondly a smiling 25-year-old being unveiled in front of the media at BBC HQ in March 2012. She looked eager to start and was excited, but still with a bit to learn and I think she improved greatly working with Steven Moffat and Matt Smith.
Any Whovians could see how much Jenna had progressed as sidekick Clare Oswald when she bowed out in heartbreaking emotional scenes on Doctor Who in her last episode Hell Bent in December 2015.
Now, less than a year later, she threatens to become the Queen of Sunday night TV. Having watched her transform into Victoria in the lead of ITV’s lavish new drama which starts later this month, it is wonderful to see the changes in her skills on screen over just a few years.
She now has matured into an a wonderful performer, with more poise and the ability to captivate viewers in scenes where Victoria takes charge of the country. I am confident the show will have fans in the UK, but if it does well in international sales – like Downton before it – this will be a life changing role for Jenna.
Yes she was a huge star in Doctor Who and is recognisable to millions. But the role of Victoria is one that sees her leading the action with charm, emotion and control.
I first saw big progress in Jenna as an actress, in terms of being one of our great stars on TV, in the Doctor Who episode Last Christmas shown on December 25th in 2014 when she was initially due to leave.
Funnily enough, as in Victoria, for some of the Who episodes she did not play her own age, and was an old woman. It was the first time I had seen her develop and use a real range of emotions on screen.
Now having to act as a woman more than a decade younger than herself, Jenna’s performance is again a joy to behold. She says: “It was impossible to turn down. To play Victoria she really grows and grows through the series into this formidable women with a vein of scorn but never loses her humour.”
I hope viewers like Victoria as much as I did, in which case I predict Jenna Coleman will reign on Sunday nights for some years to come.
Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror and co-edits the TV Column Square Eyes.
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