Golden Armchair Awards 2016: The People


The holidays are approaching, 2016 is (finally!) drawing to a close, and that means it’s time to look back and smile or shake our heads at all that happened this year in the world of costume dramas. First: let’s vote on the characters we loved, hated, and will miss.

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Jenna Coleman as Victoria in episode 8

Victoria: Young England

Previously on Victoria: Victoria found out she was pregnant, which did not delight her. But the railroad does, as she and Albert start checking out this whole ‘modern living’ thing.

Victoria’s reaching the end of her third trimester, and like many women at that time, she is OVER IT. Also, it’s getting a bit creepy, because the vultures are starting to circle already, the staff are tense, and everyone keeps bringing up Princess Charlotte again and again and again. We GET IT. She died young and tragically in childbirth. How come nobody’s countering that with the many, many women in Victoria’s family who came through it just fine? Like Charlotte’s grandmother, who produced fifteen children without a problem? Or Victoria’s own mother, who obviously survived?

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Victoria: The Queen’s Husband

Previously on Victoria: After a fair bit of wrangling, Victoria and Albert got married. Victoria and Albert get to enjoy a whole two days’ honeymoon before it’s back to business. Well, back to business for her, anyway. All Albert gets to do is wander around the palace, examining the dust and occasionally blot her signature. Joy! It takes about .00003 seconds for him to become … Continue reading Victoria: The Queen’s Husband

Victoria: An Ordinary Woman

Previously on Victoria: Victoria and Albert met and didn’t really like each other. But then they loved each other! And got engaged! History!

So, these two crazy kids are getting married, and that means it’s time for… pettiness and political wrangling. Leopold follows his congratulations up with an immediate demand that Albert get the same deal he did: £50,000 a year (woah, Leopold got £50,000 a year in 1816? That was a hell of a lot of money back then!). Plus, Albert wants a seat in the House of Lords and some sort of official title in England, because Her Majesty’s Stallion just isn’t going to cut it.

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Victoria: The Clockwork Prince

Prince Albert in episode 3 of Victoria: The Clockwork PrincePreviously on Victoria: All the grownups got bored trying to boot Victoria off the throne, so they decided to get her married instead. Uncle Leopold came over from Belgium to disapprove and glower and to invite his nephews, Albert and Ernst, over without actually checking with his hostess. Being King comes with privileges, I guess, but totally ignoring basic manners shouldn’t be one of them. Victoria’s resisting all this marriage talk, however, because she’s decided she’s in love with Melbourne, and apparently he’s in love with her too, or something of that sort, but he turns down her proposal anyway because: history.

So, Daisy Goodwin, who’s writing this, apparently writes slightly highbrow romance-y novels that I might be tempted to pick up if a) the names of her characters weren’t so laughably absurd (the main character of one novel, a Consuelo Vanderbilt knockoff, is called Cora Cash, for God’s sake) and b) this episode didn’t indicate she’s a terrible writer of romance. At no point during this hour did I believe that Victoria and Albert would become one of history’s great love stories. In fact, the whole thing unfolded in such a by-the-book, trope-heavy manner, I almost felt like Goodwin was ticking off boxes as she went. ‘Let’s see: hate-hate relationship at the outset? Check. Sudden, random breathless moment in a crowded room? Check. Dishevelled romping in the countryside? Check. Fight for no real reason? Check. Realisation that they were fighting because they were really in luuuurve? Check.

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Victoria: Brocket Hall

Previously on Victoria: Victoria came to the throne and stumbled around quite a lot, trying to shake off the influence of her weak-willed mother and the horrible Sir John Conroy. She began leaning heavily on her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, even to the point of forcing the government to retain him as PM when his ministry was crumbling. So, if last week was ‘everyone run … Continue reading Victoria: Brocket Hall

Victoria: Ladies in Waiting

Jenna Coleman in Victoria Episode 2Previously on Victoria: The very young Queen Victoria came to the throne and started, basically, acting like the teenager she is. Unfortunately, she’s a teenager with quite a lot of power and influence, which is not really a good thing. Unable to trust her own mother (and especially her mother’s right-hand man, John Conroy) Victoria leaned heavily on her prime minister, Lord Melbourne.

Now we get to experience one of the more ridiculous and maddening incidents of Victoria’s reign: the Bedchamber Crisis!

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Victoria: Long Live the Queen

Olivia Coleman as Victoria at her coronationIn a bid to keep that sweet, sweet Downton Abbey magic going, ITV has once more dipped into the costume drama well. This time, they’re focussing on one of Britain’s most famous monarchs: Queen Victoria. Long-lived, emotionally unstable, obsessive, determined, tough, enormously self-centred–yeah, I think it’s fair to say there’s quite a lot to mine here. And she ruled over Britain during a time of massive social, cultural, and economic change, as the British Empire reached its zenith and other monarchies started to topple. How’d they handle it? Let’s see.

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