Victoria creator Daisy Goodwin on season two's 'tears, tantrums and jewels'
The best-selling British novelist Daisy Goodwin is the first to admit that she was taken aback by the global popularity of her first major TV drama Victoria.
"I was thrilled, obviously, and relieved," she confesses. "I have always been fascinated by Queen Victoria and was glad to be able to share that with the viewers.
"I was surprised by its success, of course – no sex, no shirtless men, no violence. But I knew that it was exactly the show I dream of watching on a Sunday night so, luckily, I seem to be in tune with the public."
The writer assesses why people seem to adore dramas about the British Royal Family.
* Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman read Queen Victoria's journals
* Victoria 'saucy', not stuffy
* Jenna Coleman's love, on and off screen
* Dr Who: Jenna Coleman leaves Clara for Queen Victoria
"It's the ultimate soap opera but it's true," says Goodwin. "The strange thing about writing it is that all the things that defy belief when you are plotting them are all factual.
"There is a scene in the Christmas special, which I won't give away now. It feels like something that you would put in a soap whose ratings were slipping, but it's actually true."
One of the reasons for the success of the first series is that it did not shy away from depicting the difficulties encountered by Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) and Prince Albert (Tom Hughes). Theirs is no flawless fairy story.
And that unflinching attitude continues in the second season.
"Victoria and Albert have just had their first baby and they are adjusting to the shock of parenthood," Goodwin reveals.
"Victoria finds it hard to juggle marriage, motherhood and her job – being Queen."
Coleman says, this season, viewers will witness more problems faced by Victoria and Albert.
"The Victoria we explore this series is in her honeymoon period, which is interrupted by numerous pregnancies. She is hugely disappointed to be, what she calls, 'caught' by these pregnancies.
"We see Victoria, as ever, deeply in love with Albert, learning to navigate her new life as a mother and keep her hands firmly on the crown, whilst staying true to her independent and stubborn nature. Such a balancing act leads to inevitable fireworks."
The actress continues that, "At the beginning of this series, Victoria is one month on from where we left her at the end of series one. She has been in confinement for the birth of her child, which means she is told she can't do anything for herself.
"She has to lie horizontally whilst she is pretty much treated like a child. As you can imagine, this means that she is not in the best of tempers. She is yearning for the outdoors and for work. Albert has taken over while she has been away, leaving Victoria feeling threatened."
Coleman says she has relished the task of giving an honest portrayal of this oft-misrepresented monarch.
"I think what I have grown most to love about her is her absolute candidness and frankness to say exactly what she thinks. Unapologetically so.
"As I feel I've got to know her more and more, I've found that she is so incredibly human – vital and full of secrets hidden behind misconceptions."
The second run of Victoria does not avoid conveying the political turbulence of her reign, either. Goodwin discloses that, "Two huge historical moments we cover are the Irish Famine and the Repeal of the Corn Laws. I studied 19th-century history at university, so I know the parameters, but making these enormous shifts work dramatically has been a great challenge.
"I wanted to show the terrible way in which the Irish were treated by the British government. And writing about the repeal of the Corn Laws ... In 1846, free trade seemed the progressive way forward – now, not so much."
What emerges most from the second season, says Goodwin, is that despite all the personal and political turmoil, Victoria and Albert have an intense and passionate marriage.
"Their relationship is extremely volatile. I think of them as the Taylor and Burton of the 19th century – tears, tantrums, and fabulous jewels."
Victoria, TVNZ 1, returns Sunday September 10.
- TV Guide