Jenna Coleman and Emily Blunt have both portrayed Queen Victoria but it turns out the pair have something else in common – their four-legged royal companion, Dash, is played by the same dog.
Tori, a nine and a half year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, has made her name playing Queen Victoria’s beloved best friend. And she got her name playing the Queen’s dog too, as Sonia Turner of Gill Raddings Stunt Dogs & Animals reveals.
Originally known as Alicia, Tori came to the attention of her now owners when they put out a casting call for a TV production.
“She was owned by a lady called Hilary Bartlett who is a breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and we were on another project at the time, a film for TV called Catwalk Dogs,” Turner explains. The company was searching for a suitable Dash at the same time, and the minute Sonia and Gill spotted Tori they knew they were very possibly on to a winner.
Aged less than a year old, Tori was cast as Emily Blunt’s four-legged palace friend, and a royal legacy was born. So it was no bother at all to step back into Dash’s furry shoes eight years later – even though Tori’s now gone partially deaf.
“She can still obviously do magnificent canine acting as long as you’re in vision so you can give her hand signals,” explains Sonia, who says Tori and Jenna had absolutely no trouble recreating the all-important bond between monarch and palace pooch.
“Jenna was great because she’s a dog lover, she’s had dogs in the past so she helped us out all the time with Tori.”
Regal Tori (who shares her real-life home with Dodger, aka Buddy from Doc Martin) is no one trick pony, though, In fact, she’s got quite the film and TV CV.
She’s the Spinalot dog from the old Winalot ads, carried a dagger in her mouth after sniffing out the murder weapon in Midsomer Murders, and you can also spot her among the crowds in Keira Knightley film The Duchess.
Tori has also acted alongside Matthew Perry in The Dog Thrower, played Miss Havisham’s Jip in Dickensian and will soon play Flossie, one of the Bronte’s dogs in upcoming BBC Bronte biopic To Walk Invisible.
In her downtime she loves nothing more than getting muddied and chasing ducks on her walks at home, though Turner admits her thespian canine can be “high maintenance, like any royal! When she comes home she walks into the garden, on to the patio, stands still and looks at herself, looks at me as if to say ‘I’m the Queen’s dog, do something with me’.”
We’re guessing the 2009 Fido Award for best dog actor in the world gave the little King Charles Spaniel big ideas about herself.
Where does Turner imagine Tori will be when Victoria’s on then? “Tori will be in her usual spot, lounging across one of the sofa cushions, probably snoring.”