BY BILLY SUTER
FANS of the popular British series, Victoria, about the British monarch in her younger years, can look forward to a festive season special at 8pm on Christmas Day, on DStv’s ITV Choice (channel 123).
Starring Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, and once again written by series creator and executive producer, Daisy Goodwin, the two-hour Victoria special promises to celebrate all of the festivities of a Victorian Christmas at Buckingham Palace.
Set in Christmas 1846, the episode sees Victoria uncharacteristically melancholy as she prepares to tackle her first Christmas without her beloved Baroness Lehzen.
Pregnant with her and Albert’s fourth child, the festive period reminds her of her lonely childhood spent at Kensington. Albert, on the other hand, is gripped by an obsession with staging the perfect family Christmas, transforming the palace into a magical festive wonderland.
Tensions rise between him and Victoria, however, when Albert invites some unwelcome house guests to join the celebrations.
Below stairs, having accepted their feelings for one another, Francatelli and Skerrett are finally together. However, as romances amongst staff are forbidden, the pair cannot show that they’re in love to their co-workers which puts strain on the relationship.
The situation complicates further when Skerrett inherits a large estate from an estranged uncle.
Also reprising their roles in the historical drama are Dame Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch, Alex Jennings as King Leopold, Peter Firth as the King of Hanover, David Oakes as the Duke of Coburg and Margaret Clunie as the Duchess of Sutherland.
Others among the cast are Catherine Flemming as the Duchess of Kent, Jordan Waller as Lord Alfred Paget and Bebe Cave as Miss Wilhelmina Coke. Below stairs Nell Hudson returns as Mrs Skerrett, Ferdinand Kingsley as chef Francatelli and Adrian Schiller as Penge.
Other specials on ITV Choice this week, in the build-up to Christmas, include:
Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas – 8pm on Friday, December 22
The Murdoch Christmas special will be a stand-alone two-hour episode following the trend of the last two years.
It’s four days until Christmas. With no snow on the streets, spirits are low until two men barge into Station House No 4 with a far-fetched story about a train robbery.
“The thing that I like the most about having the opportunity to do a Christmas special is that it means Murdoch Mysteries has become one of those shows that is loved and admired by a strong loyal audience,” says leading man Yannick Bisson.
For the Love of Dogs at Christmas – 8pm on Saturday, December 23.
This special sees host Paul O’Grady heading for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to bring some much-needed festive cheer to the canine residents. For the Love of Dogs at Christmas sees Paul O’Grady bringing his unique blend of heartfelt warmth and humour to the waifs and strays of Battersea as he tries to give the dogs the best Christmas present possible – a new home.
Birds of a Feather Christmas Special – 8pm on Sunday, December 24
It is Christmas in Chigwell and the ‘birds’ are back. Tracey has got big plans that could upset the festive harmony in the house, Sharon has found a novel way of doing her Christmas shopping, and Dorien has got a mystery to solve. What could possibly go wrong?