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            Thanks Anne
The Sunday Patriot-News Harrisburg (PA)

Sunday, October 21, 2001 

TELEVISION 

A royal success "Victoria & Albert" Starring Victoria 
Hamilton and Jonathan Firth, 9 p.m. today and 
Tuesday on A&E.

It's not your average love story, but viewers should 
quickly warm to this story of a successful marriage 
that happens to be royal.

The production is a visual delight. The costumes are 
glorious, and the sets are sumptuous. John Goldsmith's 
elegant, eloquent screenplay about the British queen 
and her consort succeeds in weaving together the 
personal and the political.

But under John Erman's meticulous direction, it's the
performances that never fail to charm. Hamilton and 
Firth in the title roles are unforgettable. In fact, 
the entire cast could not have been better chosen.



The Sunday Patriot-News Harrisburg (PA)
Sunday, October 21, 2001 
Love story gets royal treatment ; 
Costumes, characters carry epic 

Sharon Johnson of The Patriot-News 

Details: "Victoria & Albert," with Victoria Hamilton 
and Jonathan Firth, 9 p.m. today and Tuesday, A&E.

It's not your average love story. No "boy meets girl, 
boy loses girl, boy gets girl."

"Victoria & Albert," the intimate epic debuting on A&E 
tonight, has its own formula. "Queen loves prince, queen 
gets prince. After a decade or so of marriage, prince 
learns to love queen."

But viewers should quickly warm to this story of a 
successful marriage which just happens to be royal. 
Although the drama brings out all the heavy artillery 
of British drama -- few veteran character actors 
fail to put in at least a cameo appearance during 
its two-night run -- it's the drama's young stars who 
quickly win spectators' hearts.

Another Victoria, stage and television actress Victoria 
Hamilton, is absolutely enchanting as the young woman 
torn between her dominating widowed mother and the 
king she is expected to succeed.

The ailing William IV (Peter Ustinov) wants to see his 
niece and heir established in her own household and free 
to visit his court.

Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, is determined to 
maintain control of her daughter, before and after she 
ascends the throne.

But when the king dies shortly after Victoria's 18th birthday, 
the young monarch comes into her own with an assist from 
her longtime governess (Diana Rigg) and her new prime minister (Nigel Hawthorne.)

Rejoicing in her independence, she vows to remain unmarried. 
Then her German cousin Albert visits, and it's love at first sight.

On the young queen's part, that is. Albert (Jonathan Firth) is 
fond of his cousin but sees little attraction in life as her consort. His trusted adviser (David Suchet) persuades him to reconsider, and the couple are united in what begins as anything but a love 
match.

There are troubled moments in their first years together as Albert tries to find a role for himself in his new home. Victoria resists any interference with her role as sovereign.

But with the arrival of their children, the two learn to work out 
their own formula for dividing the duties of running the country 
and the family. And the knowledge of his wife's unswerving love and loyalty wins Albert's heart.

John Goldsmith's elegant, eloquent screenplay succeeds in 
weaving together the personal and the political while making
the political personal.

The production is a visual delight. The costumes are glorious 
(and perfectly in character for each character.) The sets are 
sumptuous.

But under John Erman's meticulous direction, it's the performances that never fail to charm. From the quickly sketched characters (Alec McCowen, Richard Briers, Jonathan Pryce) to the longer supporting roles (particularly Penelope Wilton's icy Duchess of Kent), this cast could not have been better chosen.

Hamilton and Firth in the title roles are unforgettable as the 
royal couple who saved a declining monarchy and guided the 
future of a kingdom.

The story of "Victoria & Albert" could not be in better hands. 
Their dual biography is a royal success.



Orlando Sentinel 
Sunday, October 21, 2001 
PRIME TIME Television Review 

HER MAJESTY'S SERVICE ; A&E'S OPULENT 
VICTORIA & ALBERT GIVES QUEEN VICTORIA 
HER DUE AND OFFERS AN INTRIGUING VIEW 
OF THE MONARCHY. 

Hal Boedeker, Sentinel Television Critic 

Queen Victoria is often remembered as a plump, 
reserved and mournful figure who gave her name to a 
prudish age. She will never challenge Princess Diana in 
the glamour sweepstakes or Elizabeth I in the fiery monarch contest.

But as played by Oscar-nominated Judi Dench, Victoria received a poignant appraisal in the 1997 film Mrs. Brown. And she gets another in A&E's opulent Victoria & Albert, a four-hour miniseries starting Sunday.

The well-acted production lays out British politics and court 
intrigue in broad, sometimes murky terms. The history lacks the fireworks of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R, both 
Masterpiece Theatre classics, because Victoria was a subdued 
monarch.

But she also sat on the British throne a record 63 years. She 
had to overcome an impossible mother, lead the nation at 
age 18 and learn to rely on Albert, the German cousin who 
became her husband.

Despite the lavish trappings, and Victoria's swoon at seeing 
Albert, this is no romantic fairy tale. She proposed to him, 
and he was conscience-stricken in accepting because he 
didn't love her. He found solace in an aide's advice -- 
"marry first, fall in love later" -- and came to adore her.

Bolstered by two impressive young leads, Victoria & Albert 
infuses this story of a marriage with passion and depth. As 
the young queen, Victoria Hamilton is girlishly charming. As 
the saga unfolds, she conveys the monarch's growing 
maturation and determination.

The miniseries crackles in dramatizing Victoria's conflicts 
with her overbearing mother, the Duchess of Kent 
(Penelope Wilton), and the mother's scheming adviser, 
Sir John Conroy (Patrick Malahide).

Jonathan Firth is dashing as Albert, who brooded at 
being overshadowed and snubbed as the queen's consort. 
Although Victoria idolized him and had nine children with him, 
she was slow to lean on him for counsel. Even so, through 
quiet diplomacy, Albert helped save and elevate the monarchy.

Victoria & Albert loses some dramatic punch as it starts 
skipping through the years in the second half and moving 
toward Albert's early death, which left Victoria alone for the 
last 40 years of her life.

Yet the miniseries offers the abundant pleasure of seeing so 
many great actors, and director John Erman marshals their 
talents to ripsnorting effect. The imposing Diana Rigg veers 
from kindness to haughtiness as Victoria's governess, who 
clashed with Albert.

David Suchet, television's Poirot, gives a typically shrewd 
performance as Albert's ambitious adviser. Jonathan Pryce
puts in a colorful cameo as medal-loving King Leopold, who 
urged Victoria to marry Albert.

With great tenderness, Nigel Hawthorne plays Lord Melbourne, 
the prime minister who advised the naive new queen. With his 
usual flair, Peter Ustinov stamps the brief role of tough, aged 
King William IV, whose death put Victoria on the throne.

Joyce Redman puts in a poignant appearance as the aged 
Victoria. Best of all, Wilton makes a formidable opponent as
the queen's difficult mother.

Victoria might lack the allure of the Duke of Windsor or 
Princess Diana, but Victoria & Albert finds the drama in her
life and gives it a sumptuous showcase fit for a queen.



The Commercial Appeal Memphis, TN 
Saturday, October 20, 2001 

HARD TO BELIEVE: VICTORIA WASN'T BORN OLD 
Tom Walter 

Television/Radio

We see her as a plump, dour-verging-on-sour presence 
in black. We associate her with a repressed era.

But Queen Victoria in love and laughing? This stern, 
supremely confident-looking queen completely dependent 
on a man? Please.

Victoria & Albert is the love story between the woman 
who became queen of England when she was 18, and 
German Prince Albert - her first cousin. They married in 
1840, when she was 20.

Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) was smitten. Albert (Jonathan 
Firth), described here as a self-righteous prig, admired her 
when he married her, and grew to love her as the years 
went by.

He also was frustrated in the beginning. One scene, of him 
walking the royal dog, pretty much describes his duties.

But he persisted, and eventually Victoria began to rely 
on him for more serious matters. Eventually, that reliance 
became almost total.

Albert's great moment came in 1851, with the Great Exhibition 
and the construction of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. The 
world's trade fair showed off the wonders of the industrial 
age: railways, the telegraph, the steam engine, all things 
that helped Britain build an empire.

You won't see that empire-building here. Nor will you see 
anything about mass starvation in Ireland or the Crimean War.

Politics here is in service to the personal. Victoria relied 
heavily on her prime minister Lord Melbourne (Nigel Hawthorne)
early in her reign. Alternately, she despised Sir Robert Peel 
(Alex McCowen), who replaced Melbourne.

Famous actors pop up in small roles - Peter Ustinov plays
King William IV and Jonathan Pryce plays King Leopold of 
the Belgians. Famous actors also pop up in meatier roles: 
Diana Rigg plays Victoria's governess, who we like in the
beginning but grow to despise; David Suchet has a key 
role as a crafty German adviser to Albert.

All these famous people are lagniappe. The main 
course is quite tasty on its own.

This is an intensely focused miniseries that plays 
up the personal, and Hamilton doesn't disappoint. 
Her Victoria is alternately girlish, hesitant, imperious, 
short-tempered and tender. It's a compelling portrait 
of this queen. Firth nearly holds his own, but Hamilton
is so strong, she's the one you can't keep your eyes 
off. If there's one criticism, it's that she keeps the 
coquettishness well into adulthood.

Hamilton is marvelous, though partly, one suspects, 
due to her previous TV work. While American actresses 
earn their chops on cop, doctor and lawyer shows 
(where the roles usually are predictable), Hamilton 
has a slightly different resume. Her TV experience 
includes roles in Pride & Prejudice, The Merchant of 
Venice and King Lear.

It helps her performance, and the miniseries itself, 
that Victoria was so completely, almost creepily, 
devoted to Albert and his memory.

After he died in 1861, at the age of 42, Victoria reigned 
for another 40 years. She remained in mourning - 
big time. She kept his bedroom exactly as it was until
she died in 1901. Hot water arrived every morning, 
the chamber pot was cleaned, fresh towels and linen 
were laid out, and a clean nightshirt was placed on 
his bed.

Now that's keeping a memory alive.

-- What: Victoria & Albert
-- When: 8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday
-- Where: A&E



Houston Chronicle 
Saturday, October 20, 2001 
ROYAL ROMANCE 
Sumptuous A&E drama explores lives of 'Victoria & Albert' 

ANN HODGES, Houston Chronicle TV Critic 

Neither Charles and Diana nor Andrew and Fergie, it's fair to say, did much to shine up the reputation of royal marriages in Britain.

But long before those star-crossed lovers messed around and messed up, Victoria and Albert were royals who got it right.

Victoria & Albert is A&E's lavish four-hour love story, cloaked in the pomp and ceremonies of their time and place in history. It premieres tonight and concludes Tuesday.

Palaces and princely elegance are lush backdrops for a beautifully cast young royal couple, supported by an impressive company of elder English actors. Kudos for that to John Erman, the American director of this A&E/BBC co-production. His TV credits go way back to Roots.

Victoria Hamilton (King Lear and Mansfield Park) is a luminous young queen, full of fire one minute, and soft and yielding the next. Jonathan Firth (An Ideal Husband and Middlemarch) is effectively stalwart as the loyal German prince whose patience is sorely tried as 
the husband to a queen.

Queen Victoria is near the end of her almost 65-year reign, as her memories flash back to the first meeting with her German cousin Albert. It is three years before she will become queen at 18, and she is not impressed. "Stuffy and solemn, and he lectures," she sniffs.

Even then, though, powers behind what someday will be her throne are pushing that royal marriage to the altar. They think it a proper match, and, as you'll see here, they're right.

Diana Rigg - under such thick aging makeup that virtually only her voice is recognizable - is Baroness Lehzen, Victoria's governess, who has tried to prepare her for her future role. In every crisis, the baroness's advice is, "Just remember who you are."

David Suchet - donning Poirot mustache and dandified manner - is Baron Stockmar, the powerful German aristocrat who considers the marriage of Albert and Victoria essential to the future of Western Europe. He's a friend to both.

Peter Ustinov, as the ailing King William IV, would like to know his young successor better, but not if her mother's around. Penelope Wilton is Victoria's mummy, a domineering shrew, and Patrick Malahide is her smarmy, self-serving protector, Sir John Conroy.

Nigel Hawthorne (The Madness of King George) is a marvelous Lord Melbourne, Victoria's prime minister and new best friend, when she needs one most. There's a memorable scene when this slip of a girl who's now the queen meets her all-male advisers for the first time. "She's got something I've never seen in the royal family before," says one grizzled counselor. "She's got dignity. I think she'll do."

With Belgium's King Leopold (Jonathan Pryce) as go-between, Albert pays another visit, and this time, Cupid's arrow heads straight for the queen's heart. The old boy is a little off-target, though, when he takes aim at Albert. (cont.)

Albert is very fond of her, but he's not madly in love, and he doesn't relish being "the Queen of England's pet dog."

"Is the price worth paying?" he asks Baron Stockmar. "Oh, yes," the baron assures.

And, 22 years and nine children later, so it is.

Victoria is shattered by the death of her husband at age 42. As the epilogue reminds, she reigned alone for 40 more years, until her death in 1901.

This is, pure and simply, the love story of Victoria and Albert, chastely told in matters of the royal boudoir. But don't expect to see matters of state or governing except when such directly affect their relationship.

"There are 28,000 more stories you could tell about Victoria and Albert," says scriptwriter John Goldsmith. "What I tried to do was keep the politics fairly low key and try and show a marriage."

This elegant, and eloquent, production of Victoria & Albert certainly fills that bill.

Victoria & Albert, 8 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday on A&E. Grade: A-



The Globe and Mail 
Saturday, October 20, 2001 

John Doyle's Short List 
This week's top TV picks 
Victoria & Albert

A&E, 9 p.m. It's an almost all-British week, actually
- certain broadcasters want us to be as cozy as 
granny with her tea cozy. Or something. There must 
be an explanation. Victoria & Albert (continuing Sunday, 
9 p.m. on A&E) is a rather sumptuous costumer that 
presents Queen Victoria as a sort of kittenish gal with 
a mad pash for Albert, a solid German fellow. The acting
varies from the jolly good to the absolutely frightful. 
Peter Ustinov is in the latter category as the doddery 
old King. There is one extraordinary scene tonight in 
which he appears to labour under the impression that 
he's in a comedy sketch - he wheezes and groans his
way through a drawling speech in which he complains 
that somebody or other has kept sweet little Victoria 
(Victoria Hamilton) away from the court. For much of 
the first part, the drama is about Victoria's belligerent 
Mom, the Duchess of Kent (Penelope Wilton). She's 
the villainess. In comparison, the normally 
scenery-chewing Diana Rigg is downright subtle as 
Baroness Lehzen. There's a lot of pseudo-Victorian 
melodrama in the first two hours. You see, the point 
is that the gal was being controlled and manipulated 
by her jealous Mom and this Sir John Conroy fellow. 
Then along comes Albert (Jonathan Firth), a sensitive 
fellow who made Victoria happy in the marriage bed and 
in all other matters. There's even a bit of old-fashioned 
symbolism - when we first meet Albert, in a German forest, 
he's striding about waving his shotgun in a most 
suggestive manner. Giggle-moments abound. Enjoy.



The Hollywood Reporter Friday, October 19, 2001 
TV REVIEW 
By BARRY GARRON 
'Victoria & Albert'

Considering the wealth of drama and intrigue it provides, 
it's no wonder the Brits have always been so attached 
to their monarchy. Even the best dramatists would be 
hard-pressed to come up with a relationship as complicated 
and compelling as the one between Queen Victoria, who 
assumed the throne in 1837, and Prince Albert, whom she 
married in 1839. This four-hour A&E mini points out many 
of the intricacies of British politics as it explores the 
conflicting roles of queen and wife on one hand and 
prince and husband on the other. It documents the 
evolution of this unusual and effective relationship, 
though it omits a few important pieces of the puzzle.

Victoria Hamilton plays the queen, who reigned for more 
than 60 years, from the time of her coronation at age 
18 to the death of Albert about 24 years later. The part 
has considerable emotional range, and Hamilton never 
falters. She can be spirited and strong-willed at one 
moment and tender and vulnerable the next. Jonathan 
Firth, who plays the stodgy, reserved Albert, nonetheless 
manages to show an emotional and playful side, 
creating a character who becomes increasingly appealing 
during the course of the mini.

John Goldsmith's smart, respectful screenplay explains
how Albert, an intelligent, perceptive administrator, was nonetheless forced to wait years before his helpful opinions 
and suggestions were considered and finally implemented. 
At one point, the royal couple nearly lost one of their children 
to illness because Victoria initially refused to heed the advice 
of her husband, opting instead for the suggestions of her incompetent but dedicated head of household (Diana Rigg).

Part of Albert's problem was that his German nobility aroused, 
if not distrust, at least suspicion both in royal circles and in 
the country at large. Although this important dynamic is noted 
in Goldsmith's script, it is concealed and minimized by Firth's 
British accent, which betrays none of his German ancestry. 
The other lapse in this otherwise excellent production is the 
lack of an explanation for Victoria's seemingly miraculous transformation from jittery teen to poised monarch in a 
matter of days.

A superb cast includes David Suchet as Albert's mentor and 
political adviser, Nigel Hawthorne as the influential Prime Minister Lord Melbourne and Jonathan Pryce as Belgium's King Leopold.

Production design is top-notch, including the authentic, detailed costume design of Maria Price and the rich, colorful sets of Alistair Key. Director John Erman brings a contemporary sensibility to the drama with varied and creative shot selection and lively pacing.



Chicago Daily Herald 
Friday, October 19, 2001 
'Victoria's' secrets Historical A&E miniseries gracefully mixes the public with the private 

Ted Cox Daily Herald TV/Radio Columnist 

As the woman who gave her name to the Victorian era, Britain's Queen Victoria has an established reputation as one of history's great prudes.

Yet, when he began work on a script to mark the centenary of 
her death, John Goldsmith found Victoria to be something else entirely.

"In fact, the real story's infinitely more interesting than the 
legend," Goldsmith was quoted as saying, "as real stories 
always are."

This refreshing attitude on the part of a made-for-TV movie - to dig down to the facts, rather than rest on the legend - is what makes "Victoria & Albert" such a surprise. It's slow to gain steam, as it assumes a certain amount of historical background on the part of a viewer. Yet anyone who responds to the challenge will soon find that this two-part, four-hour miniseries starts to roll along.

Debuting at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday on cable A&E, "Victoria & Albert" melds the public with the private and examines the shifting sands of power both in a political system and in a marriage. It's not exactly riveting television, and it's not going to pull any action fans away from "Alias," much less away from "Monday Night Football," but it's a very fine production, confident of its own abilities. Along the way, it just might teach a viewer something about 19th-century history - as well as some things about interpersonal relationships that will always remain timeless.

The key is that Goldsmith's script always treats these larger-than-life historical figures as real people with real 
problems. Victoria's domineering mother is tortured by what 
might have been had she not been widowed. A political leader 
is haunted by his wife's affair with Lord Byron long ago, as well 
as the more recent death of his son. Prince Albert of Germany wonders if the opportunity to make an impact on the political system is worth giving up his personal freedom and marrying without love. And Victoria herself is weighed down by the responsibilities of leadership.

A top-level cast takes these conflicts and brings them to life. Victoria Hamilton's queen is a fully fleshed-out creation - meek 
and uncertain on the surface, but with an inner resolve and a 
core of strength. Jonathan Firth takes Albert's stiff reserve (one courtier calls him "His Royal Priggishness") and softens it where you'd least expect. Diana Rigg, Jonathan Pryce, Nigel Hawthorne and especially Peter Ustinov all pop in to act as characters, not merely in cameos the way they would on the standard TV miniseries.

Ustinov turns King William IV, Victoria's uncle and immediate predecessor, into a vivid individual. He clashes openly with Victoria's mother and refuses to even consider softening his 
words. "Ah, let the old (dog) go, and hang the scandal," he blubbers. "I will bring that woman to heel!"

In that way, this sometimes starchy production keeps finding creases of humor. Yet it never resorts to cheap yuks; it finds comedy in character. And it remains true to those characters to the end.

The heart of the story, of course, involves the title characters, Victoria and her German cousin Albert. (The European royals of 
the 19th century were inbred like a litter of pampered cats.) Victoria is duty-sworn, but she draws the line at her personal affairs, refusing to marry without love. This dovetails with Albert, an intellectual who agrees to the marriage not because he loves her, but because it gives him an opportunity to fulfill his sense of public duty.

Their courtship is real enough, although the swirling camera 
when they play a piano duet is one of the few moments when 
the production descends to cliches. Where the standard 
miniseries would end its first night on the high note of their marriage, this one continues on until they begin to fight, then 
picks up right where it left off in the concluding portion.

The struggle for power in a marriage is the major conflict in Victoria & Albert." And in showing how these two reach a state of equilibrium, the miniseries demonstrates not just what they 
gained, but what England gained as well.

There are some pointed remarks on royalty that seem as appropriate now as they must have seemed then. "Your ordinary Englishman believes if they won't behave, we're better off without them," says one courtier. "Debts and scandals won't wash anymore," says another. 

"Royalty's going to be respectable or it's done for."

Victoria and Albert might have developed a reputation for prudishness - that is, as prudish as a couple can be while producing nine children - but what they really did was solidify the position of the British crown just when it needed it most.

"Victoria & Albert" leaves off with his death, with scenes from 40 years later acting as a framing device at the beginning and end. Viewers who want to fill in the interim can try renting the fine feature film "Mrs. Brown." But as it is, "Victoria & Albert" stands on its own with a surprising dignity, much as this royal couple did in real life.



The Record, Bergen County, NJ 
Friday, October 19, 2001 
INSIDE A ROYAL ENGLISH ROMANCE 
VIRGINIA ROHAN, Staff Writer 

"Victoria & Albert," 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday, A&E

American television often features way too much expository dialogue.

Viewers get hit with so much awkward background information that a movie or series can start to feel like TV for dummies.

European projects, on the other hand, can be maddeningly elliptical.

You're often left to just figure things out on your own. "Victoria & Albert," A&E's compelling two-part miniseries about Britain's Queen Victoria and her beloved German-born husband, kind of falls into this latter category, especially near the beginning. Although it was directed by an American, John Erman ("Roots"), it's a mostly British production and assumes a familiarity with Victoria's lineage and reign (probably the way we Yanks take it for granted that everyone knows the Abraham Lincoln log cabin story by heart).

The miniseries, which is nonetheless worth piecing together, opens in Victoria's old age, when she's wheeled in to do her daily inspection of items that belonged to her husband, who, at that point, had been dead about four decades.

With Old Queen Victoria staring wistfully into space, the story flashes back to a long-ago meeting with first cousins Albert (Jonathan Firth) and his brother Ernest (James Callis) her mother's nephews.

That visit, at her home, did not go well. Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) officially, Princess Alexandrina Victoria, and an heir to the throne of Great Britain and Albert quarrel over Lord Byron.

Victoria adores his work. Albert finds him an "indifferent poet," and is appalled by his lack of morals a sensitive point to Albert, for reasons that become clear later in the drama.

Their love story is halted for awhile as the tale of royal intrigue gets told.

Victoria's closest and most influential companion at that point is her governess, Baroness Lehzen (Diana Rigg). Both are often at odds with the future queen's highly controlling mother, the duchess of Kent (Penelope Wilton), who, in turn, is manipulated by her advisor, Sir John Conroy (Patrick Malahide).

Victoria's father is long dead, and his brother, King William IV (Peter Ustinov), detests Victoria's mother. But William is in poor health and determined to have his beloved niece, Victoria, succeed him.

The scheming duchess and Conroy try to foil his plan, but Victoria outwits them. Before long, the king is dead, and the sheltered Victoria becomes queen of England at the age of 18.

A family friend, German political strategist Baron Stockmar (David Suchet), provides her initial schooling in British politics and continues to press the case, along with her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium (Jonathan Pryce), that she should marry cousin Albert.

Remembering their last meeting, she is reluctant to see him again, but when Albert arrives this time, looking and acting quite different, Victoria is smitten.

For Albert, it takes many years to truly return the feelings, but the story is nonetheless a romantic tale. The two went on to have nine children, and the prince does come to love Victoria deeply and passionately.

At the start of their marriage, Victoria refuses to let Albert help her with affairs of state, because she has been advised that her subjects would resent the intrusion of a foreigner. When their young daughter becomes ill, and she tries to also prevent his even having a say in the child's treatment, things come to a head.

In this terrific scene, Albert locks himself in his quarters, and Victoria keeps knocking, demanding to be let in. "Who is it?" he asks.

She answers, "the queen," but Albert won't open the door until she finally says, "Your wife."

By the end of their days together, Albert had become her most trusted adviser "king in everything but name" and she is said to have never gotten over his death, at age 42. Victoria died 40 years later in 1901 after a 63-year reign.

In the lead roles, Hamilton and Firth perform admirably, although her habitual mouth-twitching can get distracting. The supporting players are also commendable, especially Penelope Wilton as Victoria's mom, who starts out as a sort of stock villainess but becomes more human and likable over time. (At the tireless urging of Albert, the duchess's favorite nephew, mother and daughter formed a warm relationship later in life.)

There's also a wonderful performance by Nigel Hawthorne as Lord Melbourne, Victoria's first prime minister, who is prone to tears.

"Victoria & Albert" is not a flawless production. The fade-outs between scenes can be disruptive, and beyond the love story, the miniseries falters somewhat. An American viewer may not be so certain of Victoria and Albert's legacy, beyond the fact that he helped her to restore dignity to the British throne.

The overall impression, too, is that Victoria was rather easily influenced by others, and in fact, Erman has been quoted as labeling her relationships as "codependency."

"Victoria really needed throughout her life to be protected by people," Erman has said.

"Victoria & Albert" works best on its most obvious level as a great romance.

All photos on this page courtesy of A&E