'Queen Victoria made Christmas what it is now' Victoriastar Jenna Coleman, 31, talks about festive traditions, finding herself in the middle of marriage proposals, and working hard to get where she is today.
Sitting down to a post-lunch period drama (no snoozing at the back) is as festive as a mince pie and brandy butter with a stiffsherry. Which will be our TV snacks of choice when we settle in for this year's biggest appointment telly - the Victoria Christmas special. Jenna Coleman and her real-life chap Tom Hughes are back as the Queen and Prince Albert, showing us how to do a right Royal Christmas, 1846 style. In fact, who knew that Albert is the man behind many of the traditions we know today, such was his obsession with transforming Buck Palace into a winter wonderland? Jenna, 31, has had quite the meteoric rise since she started her acting life as a bridesmaid in Summer Holiday with Darren Day, aged 11 (she was paid in Debenhams vouchers). First came minor fame in soap (she leftEmmerdale after beating a policeman to death with a chair leg and dumping his body in a lake, as you do), then major fame hanging with aliens as Clara Oswald in Doctor Who alongside both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. And now she has two series and a festive special as history's most famous Queen under her belt. Not bad going for a working-class girl from Blackpool who had zero connections in the acting world and never even went to drama school What's your favourite Xmas tradition? Drinking Baileys while wrapping presents in front of an open fire on Christmas Eve. Not a fan of getting out in the cold then? I love to be warm, so roaring fires and trees for me. Or a combination! What did you love most about filming the Christmas special of Victoria? The ice skating day. Victorians on ice is quite a beautiful and particular sight. Also snow machines are fun. And it had a lovely familial setting now the children are older. Victoria and Albert are both from broken homes and dysfunctional childhoods. In many ways, the traditional image of family and Christmas stems from them. What is fascinating is that you see Christmas becoming Christmas as we now know it. It seems we have Prince Albert to thank for an awful lot that has shaped our world today.
You must be quite used to those corsets by now? I have always proudly worn corsets, but having worn one for seven months for 10 hours a day, you want to run to set but you only get so far because your lungs can only take in so much oxygen. Psychologically, it is incredible what a corset does. It was society telling you to behave and not run upstairs, and I think Victoria is the kind of girl who literally wants to run in the grass. Will you be sitting down to watch the Christmas Day special? We watched the first series as they aired.
The cast got together each week and went to a different person's house each time. It was funny as we would just take the 'P' out of each other, which was a nice way to do it, but we didn't do that for the second series. I didn't want to watch it by myself. What made you really want to play Queen Victoria? Her flaws. She was impatient and emotional and had this absolute will. Her ladies-in-waiting described her as the 'most stubborn person you'd ever meet' - and they were her best friends. Lovely. How would your friends describe you? Oh, I don't know. It's intriguing. You never know how people see you, do you? I'll text one and ask and they'll probably say, 'Shut up, I'm at work.' They have proper jobs. How about 'ambitious'? People describe me as driven a lot and it makes me cringe. It feels dirty. Something about it feels ruthless, which doesn't sit well with me. A lot of people talk about Emmerdale and Doctor Who, but there were six years between those. You should have seen me when I was trying to get an agent. It was like, 'I've only worked in soap, I've not been to drama school, I'm 22 years old and I haven't worked for a year, I'm a great catch.' I'm northern and working class, so people put you in a box, it's crazy. It took a long time to get any meetings. I had to take a job at a pub. You are really famous now, though. What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you when you're out in public? [On Doctor Who tours] People came in with their partner and proposed with me in the middle. But they're always a bit rushed, and you feel responsible for making it a romantic moment. Please solve the mystery of why you ditched the 'Louise' from your name The boring truth is that people have never really called me 'Jenna-Louise', and I found it very strange because I started to do more interviews where people I didn't know kept calling me Jenna-Louise. It sounded odd to me. Your beginnings in Emmerdale must feel like another lifetime. When was the last time you watched it? A long time ago. I think I'm still in prison.
YElWtA I' The festive low-down from the Victoria cast Adrian Schiller who plays Penge What is your favourite Xmas tradition? We have always had a big tree, decorated with silver and with real candles, preferably beeswax because they smell like honey. There is something truly magical about flickering candlelight and seeing children's eyes as it casts its spell. It's not an exaggeration to say that our Christmas traditions are largely due to Prince Albert's desire to spoil his children.
What did you enjoy most about filming the Christmas special? The Servant's Ball was great fun to shoot, and I got to dance with the Queen. Jenna is a very good dancer. It was the one time in the year when the aristocrats would, briefly, mingle with the servants as equals, and when it was permissible to speak without being spoken to first.
If you could grant one Christmas wish to yourself, what would it be? Not to eat too much, not to drink too much, and for all of my lovely extended family to be kind to each other and cheerful for the whole holiday.
Nell Hudson who plays Mrs Skerrett What is your favourite Christmas tradition? Rather embarrassingly I still get a Christmas stocking from my parents, which I fear can't last much longer now I'm definitely a grown up. One tradition I love, which I introduced to my family, is drinking White Russians. If you grate a little nutmeg on the top it makes them extra festive. Best Christmas gift you have ever given or received? Not to sound too pious, but last year our extended family (there's a lot of us) decided to set up a Just Giving page to donate money to charity instead of buying each other presents. We raised a couple of thousand pounds to help elephants. What did you enjoy most about filming the Xmas special? I am a mega Christmas person and the temptation was to get really into the spirit of things, with all the trees and snow and ice skating and mince pies, etc And then you'd come offset and it'd be a hot August evening. It was surreal. My favourite part was having the servants quarters all done up for the Christmas Ball, like someone had waved a magic wand. If you could grant one Christmas wish to yourself, what would it be? That I stick to my New Years' resolutions for once.
NB: Victoria: Comfort And Joy is on Christmas Day, ITV, 9pm Tom Hughes who plays Prince Albert What is your favourite Xmas tradition? I'm not really a man for tradition. Certainly not a stickler for it anyhow. You can't beat Christmas pudding, though. And there's always a good soundtrack. What did you enjoy most about filming the Christmas special? I enjoyed it all. The smell of pine needles on set was very welcome. Odd to walk outside from that to June sunshine, though.
In the Christmas special we see Albert ice skating - did you have to learn to skate for the episode? I'd been on skates before, Winter Wonderland and the like, but getting used to skating on plastic is a completely different kettle of fish. If you could grant a Xmas wish to yourself, what would it be? That Paul Scholes was 10 years younger.
'I still get a stocking from my parents, which I fear can't last much longer'
Above: Young Jenna in Emmerdale.Right: As companion Clara in Doctor Who
With off-screen boyfriend and on-screen husband, Tom Hughes, aka Prince Albert
Pictures: Rex/ Shutterstock/ Wireimage.
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Dec 17, 2017|
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