Join or Sign In
Sign in to customize your TV listings
After presenting highly acclaimed adaptations of fictional works such as Pride and Prejudice and Lorna Doone, A&E debuted this docudrama in 2001 -- and again earned favorable reviews. The production centers on the romance and marriage of the last of the English Hanover monarchs, Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and empress of India, and her first cousin, Albert (1819-1861), prince-consort of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in Germany. The script skillfully intertwines the main plot, the love affair of Victoria and Albert, with subplots about political and familial discord that threaten to undermine Victoria's ability to choose a husband and rule independently. Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth are delightful as Victoria and Albert. Portraying the royal couple as reserved and dignified but with minds of their own, they animate the film with memorable scenes, in particular one in which they play a lively piano duet and another in which diffident Victoria proposes to diffident Albert. Peter Ustinov is superb as crotchety King William IV, who dotes on his appealing niece and heir presumptive, Victoria, and vilifies her overbearing shrew of a mother (Penelope Wilton). The dinner scene, in which attendants carry the ailing king through a receiving line, serves up an épée de combat of verbal thrusts and parries that foretell hard times ahead for young Victoria. Then the king has the decency to die to allow Victoria to assume the throne, discover herself, and work against her nefarious mother and the scheming Sir John Conroy (Patrick Malahide). The plot thickens into a robust soup when, after the wedding, Albert discovers he has no purpose, no duties, and throws a royal tantrum while Victoria's protective lady-in-waiting, Baroness Lehzen (Diana Rigg), smiles wryly. Nigel Hawthorne is wonderful as the queen's sympathetic prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who coaxes common sense and giggles from the young queen, and David Suchet is equally engaging as young Victoria's mentor, Baron Christian Friedrich Stockmar, M.D.