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Victoria season 3 review: Jenna Coleman’s queen deserves better than this middling drama | The Independent

Having many years ago taken my telly critic’s hypocritic oath, I am liberated from any duty to practise what I preach. In the same spirit, I am empowered to slag off programmes that I couldn’t possibly write/direct/produce myself.Still, though, there are times when you feel a little guilty about taking the mickey – as with ITV ’s bustles-and-ringlets blockbuster Victoria , the third series of which has begun its stately progress on independent television. It is tough, and I mean really, really tough, to eke out dialogue from the long-gone activities of Lord Palmerston, the Chartists and obscure-even-at-the-time minor European royalty. So I do sympathise with poor Daisy Goodwin, the writer, who does well to try and nudge our memories of dusty school lessons; but inevitably that means explicatory dialogue that is almost parodically clunking.T​​hus, as revolution sweeps across the continent in 1848, Victoria asks aloud of her ministers: “How can the French do this? Get rid of their king in an afternoon?” When Prince Albert (Tom Hughes), a little randomly, reads out a ringing line from a newly published radical tract by that young Karl Marx – “workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” – Victoria asks no one in particular (but plainly for benefit of the historically ignorant viewers of 2019) “Karl Marx? The communist?”From extras.Yes, ma’am, I felt like saying back to her, that’s the fella: big beard; theory of surplus value; the natural tendency for capitalism to create the conditions for its own destruction through a crisis of over-production. Him.Again, in a little in-joke for the benefit of Brexit-era Britons, Victoria proclaims: “He should be told that the English are never going to unite with foreigners.” A witty touch, that, though it has to be said that her boke, Franz Albert August Karl Emanuel, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was perfectly capable of reading Herr Marx’s Communist Manifesto in the original German, and offering a more felicitous, if less storing translation of “Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!” ITV’s Victoria , though, seems eternally doomed to have to speak in another, very artificial language – “royaltyese”. This unnaturally mannered version of English means that every word emerges, after a pause, from the back of one’s throat, every remark is drily arch, every conversation, even the private ones, ridiculously formal, and, thus, royaltyese renders everything we hear devoid of humanity, spontaneity, emotion and thus believability. The souls of the characters cannot be discerned. That’s very good, constitutionally speaking; but makes for a dull drama. It would be nice if Victoria swore a bit about her “awful” politicians. I bet she did.