January’s arrival finds many of us feeling blue because Downton Abbey won’t be the star of winter Sunday nights as it has been for the past six years.
The creator of the period drama, Julian Fellowes, portrayed the upper crust and the servants with such humanity and brought the problems of the day in Edwardian and interbellum England to such life that the show became Sunday night must-see-tv. When PBS’s biggest series ever ended last spring, I nurtured my blues reading Fellow’s novels, the unfortunately named Snobs
and the fascinating Belgravia.
Rumor has it a Downton Abbey movie is in the works. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
In the meantime, MASTERPIECE begins its series Victoria this Sunday at 9 p.m. on PBS.
It’s based on the novel of the same name by Daisy Goodwin, which I serendipitously listened to through my Audible app over the holidays. I was so captivated by it that instead of Christmas carols I kept playing this fast-paced story on my iPhone and Echo over hours of decorating, wrapping and baking. The book vividly describes Queen Victoria’s life from the time the petite (4”11”) 18-year-old became queen when her ailing uncle finally died until she became engage to her cousin Albert.
Like Downton, the book portrays the seemingly contemporary humanity of the young woman who was raised to be queen and lays the groundwork for understanding the success of her reign. I can’t wait to see how Goodwin’s fascinating story is translated into this series. Victoria has been coproduced by the same group that brought us Downton Abbey and the first season was, like its predecessor, broadcast in the fall in the U.K. before the January premiere in the U.S. British audiences loved it enough that season 2 has been ordered.
Our local PBS station had planned a premiere of the first episode this past weekend at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
It sold out before we caught wind of it, but we were grateful to Katherine Mitchell, Director of Community Engagement at Community Idea Stations, who scored tickets for us. Unfortunately Snowmaggedon 2017 cancelled the plans.
Not to be deterred, I took to binge-watching The Queen.
TEdF and I made it through 7 of the 10 episodes of season 1, and we are officially hooked. Watching Elizabeth Windsor transform to Elizabeth R is fascinating, especially with Claire Foy as the Queen and John Lithgow as Churchill. With flashbacks used to explain her ascension to the throne, TEdF and I are constantly Googling while we watch to find out more about the history of Elizabeth’s early reign. Having read Victoria helps in understanding some of the traditions of the monarchy and makes me want to learn/recall more (especially the Kings and Queens of England that I had to memorize in 9th grade).
For the last six years, January was all about anticipating the return of British nobility. I am delighted to see that trend continuing with Victoria’s regal twist. If you get as hooked as I am, you’ve got more reading and watching to help scratch that British itch. Let us know if you enjoy.
January 12, 2017
*contains affiliate links