Entertainment & Arts

Jenna Coleman calls Victoria role 'a gift'

Jenna Coleman in person and in character as Queen Victoria Image copyright Getty Images/ITV
Image caption Coleman, pictured in person and in character, played Clara Oswald in Doctor Who

Playing Queen Victoria in a new eight-part ITV drama has been "such a gift", actress Jenna Coleman has revealed.

The former Doctor Who star said the role had been "impossible to turn down" - despite previously saying she wanted time off from TV series.

"When I left Doctor Who the first thing I said was, 'I just don't want to do a series for a while,'" the 30-year-old said at a press event in London.

Rufus Sewell also appears in the show, which starts on ITV on 28 August.

'Seventy pairs of contacts'

The actor plays Lord Melbourne, the queen's first prime minister, in the commercial channel's latest flagship drama.

Comparisons are already being made to Downton Abbey, which came to a close last Christmas after six years on air.

Writer Daisy Goodwin said she "couldn't possibly hope to replicate" Downton's success but hoped Victoria would "give people pleasure".

Image copyright ITV
Image caption The actress, pictured with Rufus Sewell, wore contact lenses to replicate Victoria's eye colour

One aspect of the role that Coleman had to grapple with was the blue contact lenses she was required to sport to emulate Victoria's natural eye colour.

"Any of the portraits you see, the first thing you see are her eyes," said the actress, adding she went through "in the region of about 70 pairs" during shooting.

The first series of Victoria charts the early years of the queen's reign and her courtship with Prince Albert, played by Tom Hughes.

Coleman made her first appearance in the BBC's Doctor Who in 2012, going on to play the Doctor's companion Clara Oswald in three series.

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