|Western Daily Press
Copyright (C) 2001 Western Daily
Press; Source: World Reporter (TM)
Monday, August 20, 2001
Fit for a Queen
TAKING on the role of Queen Victoria in a star-packed
BBC drama is
a scary prospect for a relatively unknown actress.
But Victoria Hamilton knew she would measure up
in more than just name.
"I went for a costume fitting and discovered that
I had exactly the same
measurements as Victoria did at the age of 18
the same wrist, head and
even ankle sizes. I confess it was very uncanny
and slightly spooky."
The 30-year-old rising star beat off stiff opposition
to land one of this
year's plum parts, despite the fact she was not
well known on television.
Her most recent outing on the small screen was
in the Simon Nye comedy
The Savages, which was roundly panned by critics.
With nothing to lose, she went for her audition
and wowed director John Erman.
"It wasn't until afterwards that I was aware of
the lists of people
who had wanted the part, or who had auditioned.
"I was very lucky, John had a certain look and
personality in mind and I happened
to fit it on the day." Victoria And Albert has
already attracted controversy for its
focus on the Queen's love life and the desire
she felt for Prince Albert. But Hamilton
says the most daunting task as an actress is
the fact that the series traces Victoria's
life from her coronation at 18 to being widowed
at the age of 42.
"That meant an awful lot of prosthetics and padding,
" the actress laughs.
"I lost count of all the 5am starts I had and
the hours in the make-up chair."
As well as reading every book she could lay her
hands on about the long-reigning
queen, Hamilton had the chance to get a personal
insight into her life.
"I was taken into lots of private rooms at Kensington
Palace, where the public
aren't usually allowed, " she reveals.
"I was shown her things and her letters and diaries.
It was extraordinary to be
able to walk around where she actually lived
and to touch her belongings. She
had a dreadful childhood there which people don't
seem to know about.
"She wasn't allowed to see other children her
own age and she had her back
strapped to a wooden board for five hours a day
to make her sit up straight. She
even had a piece of holly under her chin, so
that she had to hold her head up. It
was a vicious atmosphere.
"When she became queen, she went slightly wild
with the power of it all and in
her early years was famous for laughing at the
She loved dancing and fashion and knew absolutely
nothing about politics. When
she came to the throne she barely knew the name
of the prime minister." Playing
the dashing Prince Albert is Jonathan Firth brother
of Pride And Prejudice star,
Colin. The cast includes Dame Diana Rigg, Sir
Nigel Hawthorne, Sir Peter Ustinov,
David Suchet, Jonathan Pryce and Richard Briers.
"The roll call just went on and on, " says an
impressed Hamilton. "I'd sit there in
the evenings and think, 'Bloody hell. . . those
people are playing my servants'."