Victoria – meet the cast members of ITV’s lavish historical drama

Victoria, the ITV drama chronicling the early life of the long-reigning queen, returns to our screens this month. Jenna Coleman stars as Victoria alongside a host of faces old and new.

Great news for fans of historical drama - Victoria is back for a second series of epic drama.

The big news announced after the series 2 premiere was that Rufus Sewell would be returning as the fan favourite character, Lord Melbourne, the Queen's former Prime Minister and confidante. Keep reading to find out about his return and the rest of the cast for series two.

[Read more: Victoria series 2 - All you need to know]

[Read more: How much do you know about Queen Victoria? Take our quiz]

Dr Robert Traill (Martin Compston)

Martin Compston in Victoria with Jenna Coleman

Compston, who is best known for playing Steve Arnott in BBC hit drama series Line of Duty, will play Dr Robert Traill.

Traill was a social activist determined to help those suffering in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.

He will first appear in episode 6,

[Read more: Victoria series 2 to have love affair drama to rival Taylor and Burton]

Lord M (Rufus Sewell)

Rufus Sewell Victoria series 2

How did you feel returning to the role?

“One of the things that appealed about the role originally was that it was finite; a lovely contained story with a beginning middle and end.  I really didn't want Melbourne to be hanging around beyond the natural span of his story. All the same, I knew that if all went well, I’d probably regret leaving when it came to it and it turned out I was right. When the producers came to me with a way to bring him back in season two that was still true to the story, I was only too happy to come back.

So what's in store for Lord M in series two?

"What wouldn't work is trying to repeat the situation and the dynamic that Lord M and Victoria had in series one, fun though it was to play.  That had to end and by the time Albert arrived Melbourne's role and the nature of his relationship with Victoria had changed as it should.  After that Melbourne, who had always been a very vital man, changed  and aging caught up with him relatively quickly so what was interesting was navigating his changed relationship with Victoria and also with Albert.  There had been a certain level of imagined antagonism to start off with but actually in reality they liked each rather a lot once the original suspicion went away so it was lovely to come back to work a little more with Tom Hughes."

But did Rufus feel the need to delve once more into the history of the period?

"I did so much reading on the subject for the first season - One of the things I enjoy about my job is that it gives you an excuse to learn new things, so I read a hell of a lot about him, about Victoria and the period. The hope being, that more you absorb, the greater your understanding of people and it’s a great reminder of how people, don’t essentially change from time to time or place to place.

But then there comes a point when you have to put that aside, and just get on with being there.

All the same, It was very refreshing to go into Victorian England and Melbourne's history because I had just come from being immersed in rather the brutal alternate Nazi history of Man in the High Castle...!"

Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman)

At the heart of the drama is of course Queen Victoria – the programme documents her earlier life where she cut a very different figure from the image of the elderly monarch that we are used to seeing.

Series one concentrated on Victoria’s ascension to the throne and being matched with Prince Albert, who she was initially unsure about but who she eventually fell in love with.

[Read more: 6 things you never knew about Jenna Coleman]

Viewers saw the royal couple welcome their first child at the end of the last series and in coming episodes their family will grow as they try to adapt to becoming parents alongside their powerful roles.

Coleman has had a complete change of course from her best-known role to date in sci-fi favourite Doctor Who.

She played the Doctor’s companion Clara opposite Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Time Lord, and then Peter Capaldi’s when he took over the part.

Coleman vacated her role before Capaldi’s run came to an end, going on to star in Victoria which debuted in 2016.

Her other previous roles have included four years in Emmerdale as Jasmine Thomas, a stint in Waterloo Road, a role in award-winning TV drama Dancing on the Edge, and an appearance in chick lit film adaptation Me Before You.

Speaking about series two, Coleman said: "I think what I have grown most to love about her is her absolute candidness and frankness to say exactly what she thinks. Unapologetically so."

"As I feel I’ve got to know her more and more, I’ve found that she is so incredibly human; vital and full of secrets hidden behind misconceptions. The Victoria we explore this series is in her honeymoon period, which is interrupted by numerous pregnancies. She is hugely disappointed to be what she calls, ‘caught’.

“We see Victoria, as ever, deeply in love with Albert, learning to navigate her new life as a mother and keep her hands firmly on the crown, whilst ring true to her independent and stubborn nature. Such a balancing act leads to inevitable fireworks.”

Prince Albert (Tom Hughes)

The young Prince Albert is portrayed as suffering something of an identity crisis in the ITV series.

Although he and Victoria did fall in love in the first series after a tricky start to their relationship, it remained a stormy affair.

He was unsure how to carve out his own role that would match up to that of his powerful wife, and this is a theme that will continue to be explored in the forthcoming episodes.

While Victoria has been taking time out to get used to motherhood, Albert has been left in charge, but the opening of series two will see Victoria frustrated at not being kept at the centre of things, which a visit from her in-laws does nothing to help.

Hughes and Coleman have worked together before, as they both featured in 2013’s Dancing on the Edge.

The actor’s other TV roles have included legal drama Silk, hospital series spin-off Casualty 1909, and Cold War spy thriller The Game.

[Read more: 5 things you never knew about Tom Hughes]

Sir Robert Peel (Nigel Lindsay)

The Prime Minister and the Queen got off to a bad start when Victoria made it clear that she did not want him to take up the post, and things have stayed fairly frosty between them.

Peel did support her decision to leave Albert in charge during her maternity leave, going against the grain of many in Parliament, but only because he thought that the Prince could be easily manipulated.

In the opening episode of series two, fans will see Victoria become impatient with Peel as she believes that he and Albert are keeping vital information about her country from her.

Recently, Lindsay has starred in TV’s crime thriller Unforgotten and White Gold, a comedy about a double-glazing firm.

He also appeared in The Tunnel, a British-French mystery series adapted from the Danish-Swedish hit The Bridge.

Duke of Wellington (Peter Bowles)

Victoria may not trust Peel, but she would have been much more comfortable with seeing the Duke of Wellington take charge.

[Read more: Coleman and Hughes are 'astonishing' in Victoria, says creator of ITV drama]

In series one he turned her down as her first choice of prime minister, saying that he was too old to go back to the role.

However, at the beginning of this week’s episode when Victoria is desperately trying to discover what is going on behind her back, it’s Wellington that she turns to for answers.

Bowles starred in classic sitcom To The Manor Born in the 70s and 80s, returning to the role for a catch-up in 2007.

He also featured in Rumpole of the Bailey and sitcom Only When I Laugh, as well as film parts in The Bank Job and Blow-Up.

Duchess of Buccleuch (Dame Diana Rigg)

The Duchess is new to the palace for this series, but her arrival sees Dame Diana join as a regular cast member.

Her appointment is an attempt by Victoria to regain some control during the first episode, where she brings in the Duchess as her new mistress of the robes along with reinstating chef Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley).

Dame Diana’s long career has included a starring role in Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, an iconic part as Emma Peel in adventure series The Avengers, and roles in successful TV adaptations Bleak House and Rebecca.

She can currently be seen playing Olenna Tyrell in bloodthirsty fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Dame Diana has previously appeared in another chronicle of the Queen’s life, 2001 TV movie Victoria & Albert, in which she was Baroness Lehzen – played by Daniella Holtz in the ITV series.

King Leopold (Alex Jennings)

The Queen’s uncle is a regular fixture in the series as her Belgian relative who first suggested Albert as a suitable choice of husband for her.

[Read more: 'Dad would never criticise my work', says Sir Ben Kingsley's actor son]

Jennings must have got a taste for the royal life as he also stars in Netflix series The Crown as the Duke of Windsor and played Prince Charles in the 2006 film The Queen opposite Helen Mirren.

His choice of roles has been spot on so far, having featured in TV hits Silk, Whitechapel and Cranford.

Prince Ernest (David Oakes)

Returning to the role of Prince Albert’s roguish older brother, Ernest, David Oakes reveals why the German playboy is his favourite character thus far in his career.

“Ernest is by far the most exciting character I have played because he is a chameleon. He is in equal parts charming (devilishly so at times), indulgent and almost Faustian in his disregard for morality. Yet at the same time he is caring and compassionate to his brother, and very proud of the country he is running. He is everything to everyone at different times.

[Read more: How well do you know Victorian food? Take our quiz]

“Ernest gives up so much of himself in order to make everybody else happy and when he finally gets the chance to live the life he wants, it is not necessarily allowed. In a world of melodrama you often end up with caricatures, which can be fun, but if you can inject them with a sense of humanity and try to give them the sorrow that real existence has along side it, you end up with something great. One moment he will be pulling a stupid face and stretching the artistic abilities of his moustache and then the next he will hopefully be making you remember some tragic or heartfelt moments in your own life.”

Francatelli (Ferdinand Kingsley)

Charles Francatelli is a high-flying, continental chef who was born in Italy, studied cookery in France and then lived in London. Whilst working for Buckingham Palace is the ultimate honour for most people, for Francatelli things are not up to scratch and standards in the kitchen are not what he would like them to be. The people there view cooking more as functional rather than an art form, and he’s interested in developing the art of cookery.

Whilst Francatelli is a focused chef with an incredible task on his hands, he can’t help but fall for another member of the palace staff.

Kingsley said: “In the first series, Francatelli sets his sights on Skerrett and takes a fancy to her straight away. At first it is quite unwelcome - he is well intentioned, but he has very little experience with the emotional side of relationships with women. They soon developed a friendship and a bond though, earning each other’s trust. Francatelli knows the truth about where Skerrett has come from and learns her name, which is a big secret as she is not who she claims she is.

“There was a sliding doors moment towards the end of series one when Francatelli wants to take Skerrett away and set up an establishment of their own, but she isn’t sure if she should leave her position. At the end of series one, they are both very much alone and Francatelli has left the palace and gone to work in a club in the centre of London.”

Miss Skerrett (Nell Hudson) - Read more: Nell Hudson talks series 2 and corsests >

Nell Hudson reveals that this series of Victoria has plenty of drama in store for her character, Nancy Skerrett

“Skerrett is promoted at the beginning of the series. She is now Mrs Skerrett, the Head Dresser at Buckingham Palace. She is more serious this series, diving head first into her work, as she is in a more senior position with additional responsibility.”

“I think there are a lot of parallels between Skerrett and Queen Victoria. What I initially liked about Skerrett was her resilience. Like Victoria, she stays strong throughout the opportunities and near fortunes life has thrown at her. She is also very perceptive and astute, which guides her through everything she does.”

Skerrett’s romantic relationship with the palace chef, Francatelli also sees some highs and lows this series.

“Last series, Skerrett made the brave decision to turn Francatelli down. She says no to his proposal because she has her job and therefore security. She also has a cousin with a child to take care of. When series two begins, Francatelli is no longer working at the palace, but the new chef is dreadful and Queen Victoria wants Francatelli back. Baroness Lehzen orders Skerrett to go and ask him to return but it doesn’t exactly go to plan… Things are a bit tense between Skerrett and Francatelli at the beginning, but there are things they both want to say to each other. We get that lovely will-they, wont-they throughout the series.”

Guest stars

Victoria has signed up a number of exciting guest stars for series two, with plenty of actors clamouring to get in on the success of the programme.

Denis Lawson will welcome the royal couple to the Scottish Highlands as the Duke of Atholl, while Line of Duty star Martin Compston will play Dr Robert Traill, a key campaigner trying to help those affected by the Irish potato famine.

Call the Midwife’s Emerald Fennell and Spin actor Bruno Wolkowitch are also among those who can be spotted in the forthcoming series.

Victoria airs Sundays at 9pm on ITV.

Never miss an episode on BT TV - watch on catch up via the ITV Hub app.

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