Starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria and Tom Hughes as her husband Prince Albert, royal period drama Victoria has an impressive line-up of acting talent.
From returning talent to exciting newcomers for season three, it’s time to catch up with the monarch, her courtiers, her servants and the politicians of the day.
- Victoria series three will finally air in the UK this March
- Everything you need to know about series three of Victoria
- Jenna Coleman says there will “come a point” when she’ll have to quit Victoria
Here are all the details of the key characters – and where you’ve seen the actors before…
Jenna Coleman plays Queen Victoria
Who is Queen Victoria? In the action-packed years since she inherited the throne and found herself a brooding German husband (Tom Hughes’ Prince Albert), Victoria has worked her way through several Prime Ministers, survived multiple assassination attempts, and given birth to a whole load of kids. Season three will see Victoria under pressure from the government to leave London for her own safety, amid fears of revolution and unrest in London, while in her private life the Queen is also facing pressure within the royal marriage.
What else has Jenna Coleman been in? She’s probably best known for travelling through space and time with Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who, but long before she set foot in the Tardis, Jenna Coleman (then Jenna-Louise Coleman) was causing quite the stir as Emmerdale’s Jasmine. She also popped up in Dancing on the Edge, played Lydia Wickham in the 2013 adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley, and appeared in the big screen adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ Me before You. Most recently she made quite an impact as grieving mother Joanna in The Cry.
Tom Hughes plays Prince Albert
Who is Prince Albert? Handsome and dashing, Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, the Queen’s first cousin, was for many in the European elite the obvious choice for a sensible, stabilising influence on the unpredictable new queen. But their road to romance was anything but smooth, and even now they’re married and wildly in love, their relationship is often tempestuous – especially with kids involved.
What else has Tom Hughes been in? The man who would be prince to Jenna Coleman’s queen first popped up in Casualty spin-off 1909 before Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant cast him in their coming-of-age flick Cemetery Junction. Hughes played Bruce Pearson, a free-living, womanising teen growing up in 1970s Reading, a role that doubtlessly prepared him for his turn in Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll in 2010. You may have spotted him in Hitchcock remake The Lady Vanishes. And he’s already starred opposite his queen, Jenna Coleman, in Dancing on the Edge back in 2013, before making his name in BBC spy drama The Game.
Kate Fleetwood plays Victoria’s sister Feodora
Who is Princess Feodora of Leiningen? In series three, the Queen’s “mysterious” sister makes an “unexpected return” into Victoria’s life. (And yes, she did exist: the real Princess Feodora of Leiningen was Queen Victoria’s beloved elder half-sister who had married a German prince and escaped the confines of Kensington Palace while Victoria was still young.) In this drama, Feodora is resentful and creates tension in the royal household when she comes to visit. “There she is, living in a crumbly, draughty castle in the middle of Germany and she’s having a miserable time,” Goodwin explained. “And there’s Victoria being Queen of England. It doesn’t go down so well.”
What else has Kate Fleetwood been in? Tony and Olivier Award nominated actress Kate Fleetwood is best known for her stage work, but she also has a long list of TV and film credits including Harlots, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (where she played a First Order Officer), A Touch of Cloth, Waking the Dead, and Philomena.
Laurence Fox plays Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston
Who is Lord Palmerston? “Charismatic and wayward” Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston is a major player in the politics of the era, and becomes a new thorn in Victoria’s side. He’ll arrive in series three and it looks like there will be plenty of intrigue.
What else has Laurence Fox been in? Lewis star Laurence Fox spent more than a decade solving crimes as DI James Hathaway. After leaving the ITV murder drama in 2015, he starred in The Frankenstein Chronicles as Frederick Dipple, performed in a number of plays, and released his debut album Holding Patterns.
Lily Travers plays Duchess Sophie of Monmouth
Who is the Duchess of Monmouth? Queen Victoria’s new Mistress of the Robes is delighted to spend time at the palace – especially because it gets her away from her cruel and arrogant husband, the Duke of Monmouth. Sophie is starved of love, especially since her spouse sent her beloved young son away to boarding school. Who knows where she might find comfort at the palace?
What else has Lily Travers been in? She made an appearance in the 2017 Doctor Who episode Twice Upon a Time as Polly, and also played Lady Sophie in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service. Travers’ credits also include Still Star-Crossed, Viceroy’s House, Me Before You, and The Royals.
John Sessions plays Prime Minister John Russell
Who is Lord John Russell? Prime Minister John Russell is in power from 1846 to 1852, much of the period covered by series three. He is a Whig (like Lord M), but lacks full control of his government and fights frequently with his rebellious Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston.
What else has John Sessions been in? As a comedian, you may have seen him on Whose Line Is It Anyway? or QI. As an actor, he has made frequent appearances on TV in dramas including Stella Street, The Loch, Outlander, and Skins. His film credits include The Rack pack, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Pudsey the Dog.
Nicholas Audsley plays the Duke of Monmouth
Who is the Duke of Monmouth? Sophie’s cruel husband. He is hyper-critical and dismissive, and everyone around him is surprised about how he treats his young and beautiful wife.
What else has Nicholas Audsley been in? He played Lord Strange in The White Princess, and has also appeared in Foyle’s War, Silent Witness and Midsomer Murders.
David Burnett plays Joseph Weld
Who is Joseph Weld? A new footman at Buckingham Palace. He aims to please, but is taken aback by his new boss, the curmudgeonly Penge, who takes an immediate dislike to this strapping young man. However, the Duchess of Monmouth is increasingly drawn to him – and he has a major crush on her.
What else has David Burnett been in? Aside from his time on stage in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Titus Andronicus, David Burnett has appeared in Endeavour, Prey, and Manhunt.
David Newman plays Henry Cole
Who is Henry Cole? A driving force behind the Great Exhibition, the groundbreaking international exhibition held in 1851. This huge event took place in London’s Hyde Park, where the “Crystal Palace” was built as a magnificent – but temporary – structure. It housed displays of industry and culture from around the world. Cole worked closely with Prince Albert to make the dream a reality.
- A big day in history: Queen Victoria opens the Great Exhibition at the famous Crystal Palace (via BBC History)
What else has David Newman been in? Recent appearances include Stephen Proctor in A Discovery of Witches, Dr Adrian Croxley in Endeavour, and Richard the Lionheart in The Windsors.
Ellen Evans plays Adelheid
Who is Adelheid? Feodora’s 16-year-old daughter, which makes her Queen Victoria’s niece. In ITV’s Victoria, Adelheid (aka Heidi) is invited to Buckingham Palace to join her scheming mother Feodora, who has big plans for her future. Can the Queen’s jealous sister arrange a suitable marriage for young Heidi?
The real Princess Adelheid was Feodora’s fifth child of six, and her prospects for marriage were the subject of great intrigue. In 1852, after making himself “Emperor of France”, Louis Napoleon made a proposal of marriage to Adelheid’s parents, Feodora and Ernest. His motives were political: he hoped for a closer alliance with England because Adelheid was Victoria’s niece, and marrying a royal could lend legitimacy to his rule. Although this would have been a high profile and profitable match for Adelheid, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert turned out to be horrified by the idea – and Adelheid’s parents ultimately declined the French offer. Four years later, Adelheid instead married Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein.
What else has Ellen Evans been in? The young actress played a teenage girl in The Death of Stalin.
Hilton McRae plays Combe
Who is Combe? George Combe was a Scottish lawyer who led the phrenological movement for more than 20 years during the Victorian era, writing an influential book titled The Constitution of Man. “Phrenology” involves measuring the bumps on the skull to determine mental traits, because the contours of the skull apparently had something to do with a person’s personality. It has now been debunked and is regarded as a pseudoscience, but phrenology was very popular in its time.
What else has Hilton McRae been in? The Scottish actor is known for his work across stage, TV and film. Recent screen credits include Darkest Hour, The Sense of an Ending, and A Private War. He also made a brief appearance as Arvel Crynyd in Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi.
Sabrina Bartlett plays Abigail Turner
Who is Abigail Turner? Seamstress Abigail also happens to be a Chartist, with a firm moral code and strong political opinions. Her needlework brings her into contact with Skerrett and the palace, and during series three she joins the Queen’s staff.
What else has Sabrina Bartlett been in? You may recognise Sabrina Bartlett for her appearance in the season six finale of Game of Thrones as a Handmaid of Arya Stark. Her other roles include Sophia in Da Vinci’s Demons, Princess Isabella in Knightfall and Keren Smith in Poldark.
Jordan Waller plays Lord Alfred Paget
Who is Lord Alfred Paget? In real life, he was a courtier and Liberal politician who spent several years as Chief Equerry and Clerk Marshall to the Queen. This version of Lord Alfred Paget had an illicit love affair with Edward Drummond, but that came to a tragic end when Drummond was killed in series two.
What else has Jordan Waller been in? Jordan Waller probably wasn’t a familiar face to many when he made his Victoria debut, with a background role in the movie Love and Friendship to his name. Since then he has appeared in the movie Darkest Hour, playing Randolph Churchill.
Adrian Schiller plays Penge
Who is Penge? The relentlessly cynical Penge found that his comfortable position as head steward (established under Conroy’s management) vanished overnight when Baroness Lehzen took over in series one. A bitter enmity was born and the pair fought a relentless battle. Lehzen’s misguided desire to make ‘economies’ was pitted against Penge’s reactionary and, at times, corrupt ideas about palace management. Lehzen may be gone, but Penge remains just as grouchy as ever.
What else has Adrian Schiller been in? You may have spotted Victoria’s Penge in Beauty and The Beast with Dan Stevens and Emma Watson. But you’ve most likely come across him before in Being Human, Going Postal, Silk or The Hollow Crown. He also played Uncle in Doctor Who episode The Doctor’s Wife, appeared as David Lloyd George in Suffragette, and popped up in BBC’s Undercover.
Tommy Knight plays Brodie
Who is Brodie? The youngest member of the household, Brodie is a hallboy with big ambitions for getting ahead, perhaps even becoming a footman, assiduously learning German and Shakespeare to further himself.
What else has Tommy Knight been in? Doctor Who fans will known Tommy Knight as Luke Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures, but you may also recognise him as Kevin Chalk from Waterloo Road, Glue’s murder victim, Caleb ‘Cal’ Bra or Dealer Dan from You, Me and The Apocalypse.
Anna Wilson-Jones plays Emma Portman
Who is Emma Portman? Unlike her dim-witted husband, Emma Portman is wry and clever, qualities that placed her as one of Lord Melbourne’s most trusted confidants. Her connections secured her a spot as Queen Victoria’s Lady in Waiting back in series one, but as Lord M left politics and as Robert Peel’s government took the helm, Emma faced new challenges.
What else has Anna Wilson-Jones been in? To Spaced fans she’s Sarah and Sugar Rush fans will know her as Anna but did you spot Anna Wilson Jones in another TV series? Monarch of the Glen, perhaps? Ashes to Ashes? Or maybe even Hotel Babylon? Her screen CV is quite extensive, with roles in New Blood, Black Mirror and DCI Banks to name but a few.
Alex Jennings plays King Leopold
Who is King Leopold? As King of the Belgians, Leopold is a schemer and a slightly overbearing uncle to his niece Queen Victoria and nephew Prince Albert. He was instrumental in pairing them up back in series one. In series two, writer Daisy Goodwin raised the question of whether he could be Albert’s biological father, leaving the Prince horrified that he might be secretly illegitimate. While we don’t see much of Leopold in series three, he does reappear in episode six.
What else has Alex Jennings been in? Alex Jennings is a three-time Olivier Award winner, but he has made recognisable forays into screens small and large. He has previous royal experience, taking on the role of Prince Charles in The Queen and Prince Edward in The Crown, as well as playing royalty of a more literary sort with his interpretation of Alan Bennett in The Lady in the Van. Other notable appearances include roles in Silk, Whitechapel and Belle.
Pandora Clifford plays Lord Palmerston’s wife Emily
Who is Emily Palmerston? Lord Palmerston’s wife, who also happened to be Lord M’s younger sister.
Emily originally married Earl Cowper, a quiet and introverted man who avoided politics and suffered a long period of decline and ill health until his death. By contrast, Emily – notable for her beauty and charm – became a patron of the exclusive Almack’s Club and threw herself into the Regency social scene. Her socialising brought her into contact with notorious womaniser Lord Palmerston and they reportedly began a relationship. When Emily’s first husband died in 1837, the two were finally able to marry. The newly-minted Lady Palmerston was already 52 and had five children from her first marriage, though one daughter was rumoured to have been fathered by her then-lover Palmerston. She and Palmerston had a close romantic relationship and she was an astute political operator who supported his career.
Though the Palmerstons did not, in real life, host the Queen on their Irish estate when she visited the country in 1849, Lady Palmerston was acquainted with Queen Victoria and dined with her in England many times.
What else has Pandora Clifford been in? The actress has made recent appearances in Fearless, Press, and Doctors.
Edwin Thomas plays Mr Caine
Who is Mr Caine? Bertie’s new tutor, who appears to make great strides in teaching the future king. But is that all there is to him?
What else has Edwin Thomas been in? You may have seen him in Midsomer Murders, The Happy Prince, or Endeavour.
Laura Morgan plays Florence Nightingale
Who is Florence Nightingale? You’ve almost certainly heard of Florence Nightingale, who pops up in the Victoria episode Foreign Bodies. She was a social reformer, statistician and nurse who became famous in the 1850s during the Crimean War, in which she organised care for wounded soldiers.
What else has Laura Morgan been in? The actress’s screen credits include Maggie Cotton in serial killer drama Dark Angel, and Joan of Arc in The Hollow Crown.
Sam Swainsbury plays Dr John Snow
Who is Doctor Snow? The physician’s finest moment came when he traced the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, London, in 1854. He is also known for his work on anaesthesia and medical hygiene, leading to great understanding of the science behind disease.
What else has Sam Swainsbury been in? The actor has starred in the TV series Mum as Jason, and as Kevin Russell in Fearless. Credits also include Call the Midwife, Doctors, Atlantis, and a bit part in Thor: The Dark World. Sam Swainsbury stars alongside Daniel Mays, James Purefoy and Tuppence Middleton in the movie Fisherman’s Friends.
Nell Hudson plays Skerrett
Who is Skerrett? Loosely based on a real-life member of Buckingham Palace’s serving staff, this character mysteriously appeared soon after Victoria became Queen with a recommendation from the Chiswick Institute. She became assistant to Jenkins (played by Eve Myles), the Queen’s prickly personal dresser, and rose swiftly through the ranks. Her relationship with palace chef, Francatelli, was the source of much drama in the first two series – but from the preview photos for series three, it looks like they’ve finally found happiness…
What else has Nell Hudson been in? Outlander fans will known Hudson as Laoghaire MacKenzie, the wily young woman who is scorned by Sam Heughan’s Jamie. Before that she was relatively new to the scene, with a role in Holby City and some short film roles to her name.
Ferdinand Kingsley plays Francatelli
Who is Francatelli? Based on a real chef in Victoria’s household, Charles Elme Francatelli is of Italian descent, but grew up in London and studied cookery in France. He departed the palace at the end of series two, but Skerrett was able to persuade him to return and the two finally became engaged during the Christmas special.
What else has Ferdinand Kingsley been in? With a surname like that you might wonder, but yes, Ferdinand is in fact Ben Kingsley’s son. Don’t define him by his surname, though – he’s made his own way in the acting world with roles in The Hollow Crown, Ripper Street, Borgia, Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Dracula Untold.
Vincent Regan plays King Louis Philippe
Who is King Louis Philippe? The first time we met Louis Philippe, he was in his element as the King of France (and if you’ve noticed he now looks a little different – that’s because he was originally played by the actor Bruno Wolkowitch). At the outbreak of the French Revolution, he was forced to abdicate his crown and left Paris in disguise, calling himself Mr Smith, and fled to England. Now he’s humbled, his relationship with Victoria has changed greatly.
What else has Vincent Regan been in? This isn’t the first time he’s played a royal: he was King Simon in The Royals. The actor also played Jasper Tudor in The White Princess, Chief Superintendent Jones in Snatch, Dominic Carter in Undercover, and Dion in Atlantis. He currently stars as Mason Elliot in the TV series Delicious.
Peter Bowles plays the Duke of Wellington
Who is the Duke of Wellington? The Tory leader has been a good friend to the Queen, keeping an eye out for her when forces within his own party moved against her. He continued to provide guidance and support in series two.
What else has Peter Bowles been in? He’s probably best known for playing To The Manor Born’s Richard DeVere but Peter Bowles’s screen CV stretches to the manor and beyond. The star of The Irish RM, Rumpole of The Bailey, Perfect Scoundrels, The Bounder and Lytton’s Diary has made quite the name for himself on British television. And you’ve probably spotted him guest starring on The Sarah Jane Adventures and Citizen Khan too.
CJ Beckford plays Cuffay
Who is Cuffay? A Chartist leader who rejected the timidity of some in the movement. The real-life Cuffay was the son of a former slave and a British woman, and was mixed-race.
What else has CJ Beckford been in? Aside from a handful of short films and a brief appearance in Venus vs Mars, CJ Beckford is a newcomer to our screens.
Kerr Logan plays Patrick Fitzgerald
Who is Patrick Fitzgerald? An Irish Chartist, who befriends seamstress Abigail.
What else has Kerr Logan been in? The actor first attracted attention as Matthos in Game of Thrones. He also played Conor in London Irish, Failey in My Family and Other Strangers and James McDermott in Alias Grace. He recently appeared in the TV shows Strike and Genius.