The reign of Queen Victoria has been fertile ground for drama on screen for a century now.
Dozens of actresses have played the famous monarch, who was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for over sixty-three years, from 20 June 1837 until her death in on 22 January 1901.
Most recently, Jenna Coleman has been lighting up our Sunday nights in ITV’s critically-acclaimed series Victoria, the third season of which is released on DVD and Blu-ray today in the UK from ITV Studios Global Entertainment, featuring exclusive special features.
To celebrate the release, let’s take a look at five of the best Queen Victoria on film and television to date:
5. Patricia Routledge
Yes, we really mean that Patricia Routledge!
Best known as Hyacinth Bucket in the BBC’s 1990s sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, the then 35-year-old actress played Queen Victoria in Victoria Regina.
The four-part Granada Television serial aired in 1964 and was based on Laurence Housman’s 1934 play.
4. Anna Neagle
Voted the most popular star in Britain in 1949, Anna Neagle had previously played Queen Victoria in two successful biographical movies in the late 1930s.
Neagle’s husband Herbert Wilcox directed both Victoria the Great in 1937 and its follow-up Sixty Glorious Years in 1938.
The first movie was commissioned by none other than King Edward VIII!
3. Emily Blunt
A decade before playing Mary Poppins, Emily Blunt brought the early years of Queen Victoria to life alongside Homeland star Rupert Friend as Prince Albert.
The script for The Young Victoria was written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who aimed to make the movie as historically accurate as possible.
2. Judi Dench
Like Anna Neagle, Dame Judi Dench has also played Queen Victoria twice on the big screen, although with a far longer gap between performances.
Following her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in 1997’s Mrs Brown, which explored the relationship between the grieving Queen Victoria and her Scottish servant, John Brown (Billy Connolly), Dench returned to the role 20 years later in 2017.
Directed by The Queen‘s Stephen Frears, Victoria & Abdul told the forgotten story of Victoria’s bond with her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim.
1. Jenna Coleman
After three years travelling through time and space in Doctor Who, Jenna Coleman was cast as as the lead in ITV’s lavish historical series.
Commissioned to take the Sunday night period drama slot vacated by Downton Abbey the previous year, Victoria began with the Queen’s accession to the throne at the age of just 18.
The most recent season saw Victoria tested like never before – as mother, wife, and Queen – with monarchies tumbling across Europe.