Victoria Christmas special: Take a first look at the snowy period drama

The period drama is getting a seasonal instalment - but will it end as tragically as the sneak preview suggested?

It's that time of year when we get to look forward to seeing our favourite TV shows in festive mode – and this time, Victoria is joining the December schedules.

As many of our favourite Christmas traditions actually come from the Victorian era, what better series to make a special episode?

[Read more: Victoria - meet the cast members]

We can't wait to see what the holidays are like round at Victoria and Albert's – here's all we know about the forthcoming programme so far.

When is the Victoria Christmas special on TV?

Victoria airs on Christmas Day at 9pm on ITV and its a two-hour special. The first pictures from the episode have been revealed below.

Victoria Christmas special

Once again written by creator and executive producer, Daisy Goodwin, the two-hour special will celebrate all of the festivities of a Victorian Christmas at Buckingham Palace.

[Read more: Where is Victoria filmed? The locations of the regal drama]

Also reprising their roles in the historical drama are Dame Diana Rigg (Game Of Thrones) as the Duchess of Buccleuch, Alex Jennings (The Lady In The Van) as King Leopold, Peter Firth (Spooks) as the King of Hanover, David Oakes (The White Queen) as the Duke of Coburg, Margaret Clunie (Endeavour) as the Duchess of Sutherland, Catherine Flemming (Tatort) as the Duchess of Kent, Jordan Waller (Love & Friendship) and Lord Alfred Paget and Bebe Cave (Frankie) as Miss Wilhelmina Coke. Below stairs Nell Hudson (Outlander) returns as Mrs Skerrett, Ferdinand Kingsley (Borgia) as chef Francatelli and Adrian Schiller (The Secret Agent) as Penge.

 

Victoria Christmas special

Set in Christmas 1846, the episode sees Victoria uncharacteristically melancholy as she prepares to tackle her first Christmas without her beloved Baroness Lehzen. Pregnant with her and Albert’s fourth child, the festive period reminds her of her lonely childhood spent at Kensington. Albert, on the other hand is gripped by an obsession with staging the perfect family Christmas, transforming the palace into a magical festive wonderland. Tensions arise between him and Victoria, however, when Albert invites some unwelcome house guests to join the celebrations.

Victoria Christmas special

Below stairs, having accepted their feelings for one another, Francatelli and Skerrett are finally together. However, as romances amongst staff are forbidden, the pair cannot show that they’re in love to their co-workers which puts strain on the relationship. The situation complicates further when Skerrett inherits a large estate from an estranged uncle.

Why is it joining the festive schedules?

Viewers can't get enough of the historical drama starring Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as Victoria and Albert.

But there's something else that makes it an obvious choice for a Christmas special – Prince Albert is responsible for many of the traditions we still have now that we think of as particularly festive.

When Albert moved to Britain from his native Germany, he brought many of their ways of celebrating Christmas with him, including sending cards to loved ones.

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

He was also behind the Christmas tree becoming an annual fixture in the nation's homes as Victoria's subjects copied her husband's tradition of bringing in a tree on Christmas Eve and decorating it with his family.

Series creator Daisy Goodwin told the Radio Times: "All his children had individual Christmas trees, so he was the original ‘Christmas-zilla’, I think is the word!"

Albert and his children were keen skaters, too, making the most of their freezing winters. But Victoria never really got the hang of skating and instead preferred to take sleigh rides through the snow.

What can we expect to happen in the special episode?

Avid viewers of the series will have noticed a sneak preview for the Christmas special at the end of the series two finale.

Glimpses of scenes to come included Victoria surrounded by her children playing in the snow, looking like they were enjoying a textbook white Christmas.

But then things took a dark turn, as we also saw the queen cradling her husband in the snow and sobbing – leaving fans worried that Albert's premature demise could be fast approaching.

[Read more: Viewers 'sobbing' at emotional Victoria finale]

We know that he died in the winter of typhoid fever, but it isn't clear what year the episode is set in and historians reckon the prince would have been ill for at least a couple of years, giving us hope that the family have some time still left together. Otherwise, ITV could be lining up the most depressing Christmas special since Downton Abbey killed off Matthew Crawley.

Goodwin has stayed vague on the details, saying only: "I know it’s going to be utterly brilliant and there’ll be a lot of snow in it.”

Victoria returns to ITV for a Christmas special this December.

 

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