PBS’s regal drama Victoria already boasts an impressive cast, but its latest member is actual acting royalty.
ITV has announced that none other than The Avengers star Dame Diana Rigg will join Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) and Tom Hughes (The Game) for the second season, just as cameras start rolling.
It won’t be the first time the two actresses have shared the same screen, as keen-eyed Whovians will know. Dame Diana played the crazed mill-owner Winifred Gillyflower in “The Crimson Horror,” an episode of Doctor Who that saw Clara (Coleman) and the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) arrive in Victorian England.
This isn’t a cameo either. Oh no. The lady knight of the realm will be a regular cast member, playing the Duchess of Buccleuch, the young Queen’s new Mistress of the Robes, a woman whose role was one of the most senior in the royal household and as such gave her great sway over the queen.
We must admit we were a little surprised by the choice of actor. The actual Duchess of Buccleuch (real name Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry) was just 30 years old when she ascended to the role, remaining close friends with the queen for the rest of her life. And, without wanting to come across as rude, Dame Diana is, well, uh… a touch older.
We’re quibbling here, of course. Nor is it the first time the producers behind Victoria have favored a good story over historical accuracy: Lord Melbourne was almost 60 when he came to know the young queen, and not half as dishy as Rufus Sewell, who played him in season one.
But who are we to complain? The first season really brought Victoria’s reign to life, and a little bending of the truth is fine when it means a gripping story.
Moreover, Dame Diana’s character is described as being “renowned for speaking her mind,” something that comes naturally to the veteran actress, as anyone who’s seen her in Game of Thrones as no-nonsense matriarch Olenna Tyrell will know.
The next season of Victoria promises to be every bit as dramatic too. It will pick up six weeks after the first ended, as Victoria (Coleman) and Albert (Hughes) try to adjust to life with a young child. As expected, it will cover the 1840s, when the Great Famine in Ireland and war in Afghanistan began, providing a backdrop to the drama in Buckingham Palace.
In a statement, creator Daisy Goodwin said: “In series one Victoria married the handsome prince, but in this series she and Albert get down to the serious business of living happily, sometimes stormily, ever after.”
She went on: “Victoria is the only Queen Regnant to marry and give birth while on the throne and the challenges of being head of state as well as a wife and mother are legion. In many ways Victoria’s dilemma is a modern one — how do you have a successful marriage and a happy family when you are holding down an important job. Can you really have it all?”
Series two will play out over eight episodes, plus an epic two-hour Christmas special.
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