Nicole • December 26, 2017

THE TIMES – Jenna Coleman, who is about to resume playing our second-longest reigning monarch in a Christmas special of Victoria, once met our longest-reigning monarch — in front of the Tardis. It was during Coleman’s previous job, playing the Doctor’s sparky companion Clara Oswald in Doctor Who. The Queen was attending an event at the BBC and the Blackpool-born actress was in line to shake hands.

“She said, ‘What do you do?’ ” Coleman recalls with a grin. “I said, ‘I travel through time and space.’ And she said, ‘That sounds like fun.’ ”

Coleman, 31 in Earth years, is still travelling through time and space in Victoria — just a rather more narrow portion of it. There are clear parallels between the queen she has met and the one she has played since 2015 in the ITV series, she says. “Growing up on the job, being a symbol of endurance.” Like Elizabeth, Victoria knew what it was like to be “in and out of favour — you kind of take it for granted that it was a stable time, but it really wasn’t.”

Sipping herbal tea in the restaurant of a hotel in Kensington, central London, Coleman is tiny, pretty and porcelain-skinned in grey sweater and chic black dungarees. Combine her luminosity with a wit and earthy zest that she honed in soap operas and you have a very different kind of Victoria from the dumpy matriarch of popular perception.

“People just don’t know the younger person at all,” she says in a voice that still has its Lancastrian twinkle. “The only photographic images we have of her are when she’s older. It’s hard to connect those with her younger self, full of life and romantic.” There’s also much Saxe-Coburg sexiness in this Victoria’s relationship with Albert (Tom Hughes). Like The Crown — the more highbrow Netflix series about Elizabeth II, which Coleman “inhaled in a weekend” — this show has given us a hot young royal couple who shag each other. The difference is that Coleman is also with the dashing Hughes in real life.

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