ITV period drama Victoria stars Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes and Rufus Sewell as the Queen, Prince Albert and Lord Melbourne.
Here’s everything you need to know about the main players in series one of this lush production based on one of Britain’s most famous monarchs.
Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman)
The Victoria of 1837 is an energetic teenager whose accession liberates her from the strict system of education developed by her overprotective mother, the German Duchess of Kent and the odious Sir John Conroy
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, appeared in the big screen adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You and had a blink and you’ll miss it role in the first Captain America movie.
Prince Albert (Tom Hughes)
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…
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.
Lord Melbourne (Rufus Sewell)
Dubbed ‘Lord M’ by the monarch, Melbourne quickly becomes all things to the queen during her first years on the throne: prime minister, private secretary, trusted friend, favourite teacher, surrogate father and – to put it bluntly – love object
Film’s favourite baddie (he was cracking in A Knight’s Tale, wasn’t he?) Rufus Sewell is quite the seasoned actor. He played Fortinbras in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet and starred in a wide range of productions from The Woodlanders and Dangerous Beauty to Dark City, The Illusionist to Tristan and Isolde. On TV you’ve probably spotted him in Middlemarch, Charles II: The Power and The Passion and as Alexander Hamilton in HBO’s John Adams, to name but a few productions. Oh and The Man in the High Castle fans will know him as Obergruppenführer Smith.
Prince Ernest (David Oakes)
Ernest by name but not by nature, the prince’s gregarious, Dionysian instincts could not be more at odds to his younger brother’s Apollonian sobriety. Whilst Albert spent his adolescence absorbing himself in academia, Ernest immersed himself in the art of womanising and revelry.
From The Pillars of The Earth to Borgia, Ripper Street and The White Queen, you’ve seen a LOT of David Oakes on your TV screen. He played Kim Philby in a BBC2 documentary about one of The Cambridge Five, and also recently had roles in both Endeavour and The Living and The Dead.
Miss Skerrett (Nell Hudson)
Skerrett – loosely based on a real-life member of Buckingham Palace’s serving staff – mysteriously appears soon afer the accession with a recommendation from the Chiswick Institute. She is to become assistant to Jenkins, the Queen’s prickly personal dresser.
Outlander fans will known Hudson and 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.
Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley)
Based on a real chef in Victoria’s household, Charles Elme Francatelli is of Italian extraction, but grew up in London and studied cookery in France.
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.
Mrs Jenkins (Eve Myles)
Senior dresser to the Queen, Jenkins has a no-nonsense, pragmatic attitude towards her work.
Probably best known as Torchwood’s Gwen Cooper, Eve Myles’ face will be familiar to fans of Doctor Who, Little Dorrit and Belonging. She had a bit part in Merlin before she went travelling through space and time, and since leaving the Whoniverse she’s popped up in Welsh comedy/drama Baker Boys, lead the cast of nursing drama Frankie, and starred opposite Anthony Head in comedy You, Me & Them. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, she showed up alongside David Tennant in some crime drama called Broadchurch, too…
The Duchess of Kent (Catherine Flemming)
Victoria’s mother is an insecure woman in a foreign land with a weak grasp of the language and an ill-advised attachment to a roguish army officer (Sir John Conroy). To her daughter, she is a problem to be dealt with…
Her face may not be familiar to Sunday night audiences but Flemming is quite the accomplished German actress. She’s probably best known for roles in Hunger: Longing for Love (not to be confused with the Michael Fassbender film), Simone’s Labyrinth and No Place To Go.
Duke of Cumberland (Peter Firth)
Disfigured by an enormous scar on his face, Ernest Augustus is in many respects a cartoon-like villain, rumoured to have murdered his valet and fathered a child with his own sister. On the death of William IV, Ernest becomes King of Hanover, but he’s not happy to see his niece take the British throne.
Spooks’ Sir Harry Pearce sure has moved up in the world, taking on the role of Victoria’s uncle. You might remember him as Dickensian’s Jacob Marley, Heartbeat’s Dr Radcliffe or Archie Weekes from The Flaxton Boys. Firth is also quite the accomplished stage star, and even played Alan Strang in 1970s National Theatre and Broadway productions of Equus
Duchess of Cumberland (Nichola McAuliffe)
Believed to have poisoned her previous husband in order to marry the Duke of Cumberland, the devious, power-hungry Princess Frederica of Solms-Braunfel is a fine match for Ernest Augustus. She is ever eager to remind him that were Victoria to die in childbirth like Princess CharloEe, then he would be heir to the throne.
Sheila Sabatini strikes again as Surgical Spirit star Nichola McAuliffe returns to TV screens. Corrie’s Anita Scott has also popped up recently in Agatha Raisin, played a reporter on Doctor Who, and provided the voice for James Bond’s BMW in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Penge (Adrian Schiller)
The relentlessly cynical Penge finds his comfortable posi9on as head steward under Conroy’s management vanishes overnight when Lehzen takes over. A bitter enmity is born. A relentless battle between Lehzen’s misguided desire to make ‘economies’ pitted against Penge’s reactionary and, at times, corrupt ideas about palace management.
You’ll be seeing a lot more of Victoria’s Penge soon (he’s due to appear 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.
Duchess of Sutherland (Margaret Clunie)
Victoria’s dear companion becomes a trusted member of the queen’s court, but also catches the eye of Albert’s brother, Ernest. Will the married woman remain faithful to her ever absent husband? Or will she fall for the charms of the man from the house of Saxe Coburg and Gothe?
If you loved A Young Doctor’s Notebook then you’ll have spotted Margaret Clunie on your TV screen before. The Endeavour actress also had a starring role in Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure, the Ellen DeGeneres Show spin-off film about two little British girls with ambitions to be red carpet reporters.
Emma Portman (Anna Wilson-Jones)
Unlike her dim-witted husband, Emma Portman is wry and clever, qualities that place her as one of Melbourne’s most trusted confidants. Successfully using her friendship with the Prime Minister to secure a place as Victoria’s Lady-in-Waiting, she observes the growing attachment between Victoria and Melbourne with an equal measure of delight and dismay.
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.
Victoria’s faithful spaniel is the palace’s four-legged ruler
Stunt dog Tori is no stranger to Queen Victoria, as she actually played Dash opposite Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria too!
Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay)
Tory leader Sir Robert Peel’s gauche manner could not be more at odds to the smooth, charismatic Whig Melbourne. The contrast is not lost on Victoria – preferring to be charmed rather than challenged, she loathes Peel from their first encounter.
If you’re a fan of Four Lions chances are you’ll know Lindsay as Muslim convert Barry, but he’s actually quite the accomplished star of stage and screen. He originated the role of Shrek in Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. You may also have spotted him in You, Me and The Apocalypse, Death in Paradise, and BBC’s historical drama Rome.
Baroness Lehzen (Daniela Holtz)
The Queen’s governess since birth, Lehzen is wholeheartedly devoted to royal charge. Originally appointed by Conroy in the hope that she would do his bidding, the Baroness scuppered his plans by becoming the Victoria’s dearest friend and greatest ally against the Duchess and her despised advisor. Once Victoria is Queen, Lehzen reaps the profits of her loyalty – Victoria immediately uses her power to seize Conroy’s position and appoint Lehzen as head of the royal household.
She’s quite the star in her native Germany but Daniela Holtz will be a new face for UK TV viewers. She’s probably best known for films like The Forest for The Trees, Phoenix and Der Verdacht.
The Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles)
The Tory leader tells his monarch he won’t be able to form a government, suggesting she should turn to Robert Peel for support. But he also keeps an eye out for the young queen when forces within his own party move against her…
He’s probably best known for playing To The Manor Born’s Richard DeVere but Peter Bowles’ 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.
Brodie (Tommy Lawrence-Knight)
The youngest member of the household, Brodie is hallboy with big ambitions for gewng ahead, perhaps even becoming a footman, assiduously learning German and Shakespeare to further himself.
Doctor Who fans will known Tommy Lawrence-Knight as Luke Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures, but you may also know him as Kevin Chalk from Waterloo Road, Glue’s murder victim, Caleb ‘Cal’ Bra or Dealer Dan from You, Me and The Apocalypse.
Daniel Donskoy (Tsarevitch)
The Russian bad boy causes quite the scandal at the palace
You might recognise Donskoy as Peter from BBC4’s Detectorists
Sir John Conroy (Paul Rhys)
Victoria delights in using her dominion as Queen to abolish the tight control Sir John hitherto exerted over her. The Duchess’s most trusted advisor, as soon as Sir John is made comptroller of her household he capitalises on his proximity to the future heir for his own selfish gain.
Welsh actor Paul Rhys is no stranger to royal drama, having already played Prince Charles in 2009 miniseries The Queen. To a generation he’s perhaps best known as Being Human’s Ivan, but he’s also appeared in Jeremy Irons historical drama Borgia (as Leonardo Da Vinci), Da Vinci’s Demons (playing Vlad The Impaler) and The Assets (playing Adlrich Ames) in the past few years alone. Other previous roles include Sydney Chaplin in 1992 flick Chaplin, Lucien Burgess in Luther, and King George III in US revolutionary drama Turn: Washington’s Spies.
Lady Flora Hastings (Alice Orr-Ewing)
Daughter of a Tory grandee, Flora is Lady-in waitng to the Duchess of Kent, whom she is fervently devoted to. Her collusion with Conroy and his Kensington system (combined with Victoria’s suspicions that she spied on her) make her one of Victoria’s sworn enemies.
If Alice Orr-Ewing’s face looks familiar it’s possibly because she popped up in The Theory of Everything, playing Diana King and has also appeared in the 2012 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat.