Thousands watch new royal drama

Updated: 2016-09-12 16:51


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Television series on the early part of Victoria's reign ranks highly in China

Thousands watch new royal drama

Victoria stars Jenna Coleman in the lead role. [Photo/Shutterstock/REX/ITV]

China's fascination with 19th century Britain and aristocratic love affairs has been rekindled by a new eight-part television series on the life and times of Queen Victoria.

ITV's Victoria follows hot on the heels of Downton Abbey, a long-running costume drama that tracked the lives of a family and its servants in a British stately home over several decades, starting before World War I.

Victoria, with Jenna Coleman in the lead role, focuses on the early part of the reign of Britain's second-longest reigning monarch, who ruled from 1837 until her death in January 1901.

More than 70,000 Chinese viewers have watched the show, even though it is only three episodes into the series and has not been shown officially on any Chinese media outlets.

These viewers are watching it on Bilibili, a China-based video-sharing site. The show has also been rated on Douban, an influential Chinese website for ratings and reviews of books, movies and TV shows.

Rated 8.1 on a scale of 10 by Douban, Victoria has attracted a host of positive comments.

The story is based on a huge amount of study and paperwork covering the era, including diaries of politicians involved, their letters and newspapers from the times. One critic described the series as, "Historically accurate, probably fictional emotionally."

The first episodes track the young Victoria as she becomes queen at the age of 18,with the then-prime minister Lord Melbourne providing the early romantic interest. His role is usurped by Prince Albert,who wins Victoria's heart. Lord M, as Victoria called him, retires to a life away from court and politics at his country home."

Victoria relied heavily for advice on Lord M, as she called him, who is played by Rufus Sewell. However, in real life Lord Melbourne was much older and a balding, portly politician. One follower on Douban said, "I am totally into Lord M now. Rufus the actor who plays him is an age-defying charmer."

The follower also makes a judgment on Prince Albert, who makes a fleeting debut in the third episode, saying, "As for Prince Albert, I wish he would never appear on the show."

Victoria looks set to follow in the footsteps of Downton Abbey, which was watched by160 million Chinese viewers after the series reached China.

Wang Yuting, a 29-year-old graduate student in Beijing, said, "Since my school days, I have been a fan of British literature. Many British TV shows are adapted from novels, so I naturally extended my interest from books to these shows."

She regards Downton Abbey as a must-see classic.

"Period shows like Downton Abbey are so well made-the costumes, the settings, everything. I also like how these shows tell stories. It makes you think, and think again." Next stop for Wang is Victoria.

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