Victoria and Albert 

Many thanks to Gill, Anne, Rai, 
Jennie and Peggy for all your help 
with finding  the pictures and articles.

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 wrong times.

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'."

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