Thanks Gill

Victoria And Albert 
Sunday Times TV section 26 Aug 2001

One day, Vanessa Feltz will represent the apex of televisual class, so it seems churlish to complain about programmes of quality. Yet this study of the great royal love story wears its quality with almost showy vulgarity. It is so packed with fine actors that you wonder where Judi Dench is - after all, Nigel Hawthorne, Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce are all there. and there is even a duo of Poirots in Peter Ustinov and David Suchet. At times. the overall effect is of being force-fed a big Victorian pudding: heavy, overstuffed, rich. 

However. ignore the feeling that you are just not American enough to be the target audience. and Victoria and Albert is inescapably well done. Victoria Hamilton plays the young queen with a twitchy gaucheness. while Jonathan Firth makes a convincingly uptight Albert, despite a moustache that makes him look like Freddie Mercury. The awkwardness of their courtship is delicately brought out -as in all historical dramas, playing a piano duet incites a sexual frenzy -and the screenplay allows wit where tradition says there was none. 

There are forays into the royal bedchamber. pushing it into riskily modern territory. but Victoria and Albert is on such a quest for quality. It is hard to respond with anything more emotional than a sigh of admiration. 

Victoria Segal 

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